The son of Broward County Chief Judge Peter Weinstein is the latest attorney to question the decision-making process of Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry. In a Broward/Palm Beach New Times article, attorney Michael Weinstein, Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and others attacked Destry’s harsh sentences. Last month, Destry sentenced a 23 year-old felon to sixty years in prison for violating probation.
Four years ago, Herbert Smith was found guilty of seven burglaries and thefts. He served two years in prison. While serving four years of probation, police stopped Smith for driving with a suspended license. According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Smith violated his probation in October by driving with a suspended license in a car with another convicted felon and an ammunition clip filled with .40-caliber bullets, the same judge who gave him a second chance in 2012 decided to send a stronger message.” The judge was Matthew Destry.
The Broward State Attorney wanted Smith to serve 13 years in prison. Destry sentenced Smith to 60 years in prison. “I think 13 is a bit much, but the law is the law,” said Smith’s attorney, Brian Greenwald. “The prosecutor was not being vindictive.”
The harsh sentence lead to a international outcry of injustice. Ratoyna Dumas, a friend of Smith, launched a petition demanding Destry’s removal from the bench. The petition reads, “[Destry] has been known for over sentencing people of color I’ve read several articles and several people have spoken about this judge as far as to how they were unfairly treated. We will not sit around and allow these types of injustices to go on we want justice.” As of December 22, the petition has been signed by 21,078 people.
Following the public outcry, Destry changed his mind. He suspended Smith’s sentence.“To go from 60 years in prison to being released that day — the takeaway is that justice is random in Broward County,” Howard Finkelstein of the Broward Public Defender’s Office tells New Times. “Destry did the right thing but for the wrong reasons.”
The Smith saga is just the latest case of Destry acting out then changing his mind to bow to public pressure.
When he was 19 years old, Demetrius Vidale’s mother turned him into police for throwing rocks at a bus. Vidale received probation. Four years later, Vidale’s name came up in a grand theft investigation. According to the New Times, charges against Vidale were dropped for lack of evidence. Still, Destry used the case to teach Vidale a lesson. He sentenced the 23 year-old to 20 years in prison for violating probation.
“I am not afraid to say when my son is wrong. I was the one who turned him in and started this,”Vidale’s mother, Paula, tellsNew Times. “This mess is because of Destry. Your life can be ruined depending on what day you catch him on.”
Vidale’s attorney, Michael D. Weinstein, is the son of Broward Chief Judge Peter Weinstein. He did not say Destry uses race when making his decisions. Weinstein said, ““But I think he forgets each person’s individuality and can pigeonhole an individual as a drug dealer.”
The Broward Public Defender’s Office was not as diplomatic as Weinstein. Public Defender Rafael Nones told the New Times, “We try to insulate our clients from Destry and the wrath of a tyrannical judge.” Nones’ boss was just as tough. Finkelstein said, “His power is unmitigated, and part of the problem is that he doesn’t see the humanity of poor people.”
Destry’s flip flopping is not limited to drug dealers. Last December, Destry oversaw the chaotic end of former School Board Member Stephanie Kraft’s public corruption trial. After a jury found Kraft guilty of official misconduct, Destry ordered her jailed pending sentencing. Kraft’s attorney asked Destry to allow her to remain free on bail since her elderly mother was in hospice. Destry denied the request.
A week later, following another public outcry, Destry released Kraft with a slap on the wrist. He sentenced her to probation, community service and withheld adjudication. Destry even allowed Kraft to leave the courtroom through the front doors in her prison uniform. Many courthouse insiders wondered why Destry would keep her in jail if he was going to let her off the hook so easily.
Now, with Destry running for re-election next year, many of these same insiders expect Destry to get a serious challenger.
A Facebook plea to local tea party activists may have exposed former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti’s role in the campaign of “mystery man” Edison Jules. On Saturday night, David L. Rosenthal, a Broward-based conspiracy theorist, implored local tea party leaders to support Jules, a Democrat, in the 2016 election for sheriff. Jules is running for the Democrat nomination against Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
Rosenthal directed his plea towards Danita Kilcullen (Tea Party Fort Lauderdale), Sarah Lima (Broward Tea Party), and “the Republicans of Broward.” He wrote, “I have met Edison Jules four times, and have spoken at length with him three times. He is a candidate for sheriff in opposition to the insane policies of Scott Israel. Edison is a Democrat, but there are no Republicans running, and Al Lamberti supports Edison.” Rosenthal claimed Jules “is the man we need to put things right, not only in the sheriff’s office, but in the schools, and in the county government.” He implored the tea party and Republicans to invite Jules to speak to their groups.
“I urge you to invite him to speak at a Tea Party meeting, and to put him through the fire, if you like,”Rosenthal wrote. “He will stand the test.”
MYSTERY MAN NO MORE?
Last May, REDBROWARD reported Jules filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against his former police department, claiming he was disabled due to “memory loss.” In 2011, Edison Jules filed a lawsuit against the Village of Obetz Police Department. He based his lawsuit on violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the lawsuit, in May 2009, Jules “lost consciousness while on duty and was taken to the hospital. After a five-day hospital stay, he was released and excused from work for seven days.” The Court noted, “Although Jules was referred to a therapist for his memory, there is no evidence that he ever received memory-related treatment.”
In February 2010, Jules lost his department issued telephone. “Jules reported the loss of the phone to his supervisor and asked that someone from the police department go to his house to inform him if he was needed when off-duty, as Jules would be unreachable by phone.” A few days later, Jules failed to appear in court as a witness. His absence violated Obetz Police Department Directive (“OPDD”) 1.29: Requirement to Attend Trials or Hearings. After two disciplinary hearings, the Mayor of Obetz determined Jules, “demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness and inability to take responsibility for his own conduct, and exhibited an inability to meet the standard expected of a uniformed officer in the Village of Obetz.”
The Court rejected Jules’ claims the Obetz Police Department were aware of his “disability.” The Court wrote, “There is also insufficient evidence to suggest that Defendants believed Plaintiff might have a disability. Plaintiff claims that Chief Hinkle was present when the neurologist diagnosed him with a brain aneurysm, but there is no other evidence in the record that the medical event was ever diagnosed as an aneurysm, or that the aneurysm actually resulted in memory issues. Plaintiff also states that he told his supervisor that he was experiencing memory issues. There is also no evidence that Plaintiff’s supervisor was informed that Plaintiff’s memory lapses were due to impairment. An employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the basis of a disability when it is unaware that the disability exists. Simpkins v. Specialty Envelope, 94 F.3d 645 (6th Cir. 1996) (unpublished).”
Edison Jules has never addressed his lawsuit.
Also last May, REDBROWARD exposed Jules’ dealings with operators of shady Broward County health clinics. In February 2015, Obinson Louis, the business partner of Edison Jules, was arrested on eight felony charges related to medical fraud. On February 18, 2015, Louis (a.k.a Louis Obinson) was charged with two counts of grand theft in the third degree and six counts of operating a medical clinic without a license. Louis surrendered on February 25th and plead “not guilty” to all eight charges.
State of Florida records show Obinson Louis and Edison Jules founded United Health Medical Center Inc. in October 2014. Louis was listed as the president of the Lauderhill medical clinic, while Jules was named the company’s vice president. A month after Louis’ arrest, the State received a document removing Louis and Jules as officers of the clinic. A Broward chiropractor was listed as the new president of the clinic.
Edison Jules has never addressed his partnership with Obinson Louis.
Then REDBROWARD raised questions about whereabouts of Edison Jules. In campaign paperwork filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE), Edison Jules used a luxury apartment building in Plantation as his address. Jules’ campaign treasurer Katherine Antequera, a New York plus-sized model, also used the same Plantation address. Many assumed Jules, an Ohio policeman, still lived in the Buckeye state. However, REDBROWARD uncovered new information regarding Jules’ residency.
On January 27, 2015, Edison Jules registered to vote in Broward County as a Democrat. Jules listed the Plantation apartment at 1600 SW 78th Avenue as his mailing address. Jules stated he lived at 11701 NW 29th Street in Sunrise. This Sunrise home is for sale “as-is.”
A real estate website claims the home is full of issues: “Possible Roof Damage, Possible Mold Damage, Possible Roof Leaks. Pool is cracked, needs to be filled or redone. Property being sold As-Is.”
When REDBROWARD visited, no one answered the door but dogs were barking.
A neighbor told REDBROWARD that several people have lived there over the last six months. The neighbor said he believes “A Mayor from Jamaica” lives there.
Edison Jules has never addressed questions about his actual address.
In June, REDBROWARD revealed Edison Jules violated Florida campaign laws. Florida election law prohibits candidates from accepting cash contributions over fifty dollars. Section 106.09(1)(a) states, “A person may not make an aggregate cash contribution…to the same candidate or committee in excess of $50 per election.” According to the law, anyone who accepts more than $50 in cash, “commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.” Accepting more than $5000 is a felony.
According to his May campaign financial report filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections office, Mystery Broward Sheriff candidate Edison Jules gave his own campaign $500 in cash.
Jules would later amend his campaign report.
Edison Jules has never addressed the source of this $500 campaign contribution.
Earlier this month, it appeared as though Edison Jules was finally ready to speak. He sat down for an hour long interview with the Broward/Palm Beach New Times. Was Jules ready for the New Times to hold his feet to the fire?
“During an hour on a Starbucks patio, the candidate wouldn’t say which community leaders have his back, how fundraising is going, or even the circumstances of this wrongful-termination lawsuit with the force he worked for — the Obetz Police Department in Ohio. (Records indicate that Jules worked there between 2007 and 2010. After losing his job with the agency, he filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and a hostile work environment.)”
Instead of answers, Jules spewed generic campaign attacks against Sheriff Israel.
So why is Jules, who claims to be the only “True Democrat” in the race, seeking the support of fringe activists like David Rosenthal and tea party groups? Why did Jules meet with Rosenthal, a virtual unknown in South Florida politics, four times?
Over the last several months, Rosenthal has been leading several attacks against Sheriff Israel. In October, Rosenthal organized a Columbus Day rally at BSO headquarters protesting the employment of Nezar Hamze as a deputy sheriff. Hamze is the executive director of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). Records obtained by REDBROWARD show Hamze’s employment process began under Sheriff Al Lamberti.
While most of the speakers at the rally decried CAIR’s ties to radical Islamic leaders or questioned the propriety of Hamze holding both postions simultaneously, Rosenthal was quick to call Deputy Hamze a “terrorist.” When REDBROWARD asked for proof that Hamze was a “terrorist,” Rosenthal refused to answer unless his repsonse was recorded on video. (Rosenthal would later attack REDBROWARD for being an Islamist sympathizer).
Since the protest, Rosenthal has pushed for a recall of Sheriff Israel even though it appears a recall of a Florida Constitutional Officer is not legal.
Now, Rosenthal wants Republicans to help get Edison Jules on the Democrat ballot for Sheriff. He wrote, “I am asking you to support him as well, by helping get petition signatures for him, so that he will not have to pay the $10,000 fee for getting on the ballot. He is a Democrat, but as far as I can tell, we would not find a better candidate in any party for the office of sheriff.”
Rosenthal urges tea party activists and Republicans to contact Jules on Facebook or call “Tom Nadler, one of his close assistants, at Nadlert@ymail.com.”
JULES ADVISER ADMITS LAMBERTI INVOLVEMENT
One REDBROWARD reader emailed Nadler to ask if Lamberti was really supporting Edison Jules. Nadler replied, “It is true I was a captain under Al and he is very involved in our campaign.”
Will Edison Jules address Lamberti’s involvement in his campaign?
Lauren Cooley, the 23 year old musician who lost her bid to become chair of the Broward Republican Party (BREC), ran crying to the liberal media to complain about her defeat. In a New Times article, Cooley once again demonstrates her skill at self-promotion. The article, published Friday, comes nearly two weeks after Cooley lost to Robert Sutton.
“I find that most young people aren’t liberal but apathetic about politics,” Cooley told The New Times. “They don’t dislike Republicans; they just don’t know what they stand for. I want to change that.” Cooley claims to be a defender of free market principles, however her knowledge of the free market seems limited to pop culture favorites. “We’ve all heard that Republicans are greedy, white old men,” Cooley points out. “I’m a Republican because I love the free market. If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t have iPhones, Starbucks, Netflix, and other products that we love.”
That’s right Lauren, Republicans defend the free market so twentysomethings can text about binge watching Pretty Little Liars while sipping over-priced coffee at the corner Starbucks. This so-called leader of millennial movement cannot think of any other giants of American industry?
The New Times did report our findings regarding Cooley’s social media skills. While she claims to be a social media expert, REDBROWARD exposed her lazy social media timeline.
“Her critics bash her social-media prowess. The conservative Red Broward blog points out that she doesn’t tweet about politics and that most of her followers are fake followers-for-pay accounts. (She did, however, tweet about the Republican debate last week.) ‘Despite touting herself as a millennial social-media guru, Cooley’s social-media accounts seem better-suited to an 80-year-old BREC member,’ the blog stated. ‘Too much self-promotion, not enough action. BREC needs better.'”
In fact, since her defeat on October 26, Cooley never mentioned BREC on her Twitter account until Friday. Most of Cooley’s tweets were solicitations for her employers, Lifezette and Susan B. Anthony List. Other compelling tweets included, “Where should I celebrate #NationalSandwichDay?” and “Avocado toast @Warsaw Coffee Company.” Will sandwiches and avocado toast get Republicans elected in Broward County?
In a Facebook diatribe the day after her defeat, Cooley called her fellow Broward Republicans insane. Cooley said Sutton’s victory “embodies the entitled, stodgy, lazy mentality” of the Broward Republican Party.
In today’s New Times, Cooley takes another swipe at the Broward GOP. “Cooley remains unfazed. ‘I can be 23 and run against the good ol’ boys in the Republican Party. I’m committed to this.’”
As REDBROWARD exposed two weeks ago, Cooley’s inept campaign team started this “good Ol’ boys” meme to attack Sutton. In reality,it was Sutton, a Broward high school teacher, not Cooley who received the grassroots support.
REDBROWARD showed Cooley’s supporters were tied the Republican establishment and Democrat insiders.
Even though Cooley has only been a member of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC) for a handful of months, she had the backing of Mike Rump, president of the Republican Business Network (RBN), his wife Dolly Rump, Karin Hoffman and lobbyist Ryan Reiter. Both Rump and Hoffman had failed bids to lead BREC.
Rump sent an email claiming “BREC Chair Candidates Smacked With ‘Good Ol Boy Politics’ & Unfair Election.The unintentionally hilarious part of email is Rump’s claim that a “good Ol boy” network is backing Cooley’s opponents.
Rump is well acquainted with one of Broward’s top good Ol boys, Steve Geller. Rump is president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjustors (FAPIA). Geller is the lobbyist for FAPIA. Rump’s Facebook page is filled with pictures with Geller. Some wonder if Rump will support Republican Chuck Lanza’s bid for the Broward County Commission District 5 seat. Lanza is running against Steve Geller.
Dolly Rump claimed Acting Chairman Robert Sutton had “threatened” Cooley if she didn’t withdraw from the race. Sutton vehemently denied it. In a conversation with REDBROWARD, Cooley said there was no threat whatsoever.
Another behind the scenes backer of Cooley’s campaign is Ryan Reiter. Now a lobbyist, Reiter spent the last two years pushing the Children’s Services Council on Broward taxpayers. The group, a favorite of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, will continue to collect tax dollars and send them to groups such as Hispanic Unity, a local affiliate of La Raza.
In a recent newspaper article, Reiter said his mentor is Judge Ari Porth, a former Democrat legislator. Also, even though he leads the local Young Republican club, Reiter is chummy with Congressman Alcee Hastings and other local Democrats. In fact, Reiter was the longtime roommate of Coral Springs Commissioner Dan Daley. He recently left the GOP to join the Democrat party.
Both Rump and Reiter spent time on Facebook promoting Cooley’s campaign. Reiter and Hoffman are members of Jeb Bush’s Broward campaign team.
Insiders believe Cooley will run for the vice chair position which opened up when Sutton won the election. Will Cooley seek support from the “lazy” and “insane” Republicans? Will she tweet about it?