Two weeks ago, REDBROWARD exposed the sordid history of Florida Justice Center (FLJC) founder Jonathan Bleiweiss. Last week, Tamarac residents urged Vice Mayor Elberg Mike Gelin to cancel a sealing and expungement event at the Tamarac Community Center because of the FLCJ. Instead, Gelin was all smiles when he stood shoulder to shoulder with Bleiweiss on Saturdayin a photograph Gelin posted on his social media.
As REDBROWARD reported, Jonathan Bleiweiss joined the Broward Sheriffs Office (BSO) in 2002. According to the Sun-Sentinel, reports of Bleiweiss’ misconduct began in August 2008. “Bleiweiss’ picture was posted in an Oakland Park soup kitchen, with a warning to stay away from him. The Sheriff’s Office removed him from road patrol in July 2009.” Bleiweiss was arrested in August 2009 after twenty men accused Bleweiss of sexual misconduct. Most of the men were illegal immigrants. Bleiweiss “faced more than 70 charges, many accusing him of sexual battery,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The New Times detailed the case against Jonathan Bleiweiss. “Bleiweiss preyed upon illegal immigrants, asking them to show identification. If they didn’t have it, say investigators, Bleiweiss would offer to let them walk in exchange for sex acts. He’s accused of fondling one such immigrant in April. Another victim claims he was pulled over by Bleiweiss, who ordered the man into the back seat, then performed oral sex on him.”
In 2019, The Florida Bulldog interviewed Neva Rainford-Smith, the prosecutor who took over the Bleiweiss case in 2013. Rainford-Smith said the details were “horrific.”
“Witnesses to Bleiweiss’ activities in his Oakland Park district said he would target and stalk young men who were especially vulnerable because they knew they could be deported. Then he would pounce, force them to give him sexual gratification, walk away and repeat the offense over and over again. Some of his victims attended the same church, Rainford-Smith said. ‘The priest would warn them to be aware of this police officer. They all knew to run when they saw him coming.’”
In February 2015, Jonathan Bleiweiss accepted a plea deal from the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Bleiweiss “pleaded guilty to 14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking. He will also serve 10 years of probation and have to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson ordered.” As part of the plea deal, Bleiweiss did not have to register as a sexual offender. The move drew a strong rebuke from then Broward Public Defender “Help Me” Howard Finklestein.
“Finkelstein, whose office defends the indigent but didn’t handle Bleiweiss’ case, said he ‘was scratching his head’ when he learned Bleiweiss avoided ‘sex offender’ status, an outcome he called ‘shocking and shameful to the whole county.’”
In the same 2019 Florida Bulldog article, Help Me Howard questioned the quality of Bleiweiss’ Florida Justice Center.
“It sounds like ‘I’ve got a website, send me money and I’ll spend it,’” Finklestein said. “I have no idea what he’s bringing to the table that he wants money for…I’m not aware that he has a stellar reputation in the legal community, that you would think he’d have the right contacts to match defendants with lawyers.”
“He’s a bad cop who should have nothing to do with justice,” Finkelstein said.
Jonathan Bleiweiss told the Florida Bulldog, “he accepted a deal to avoid trial even though he knew he was innocent, and took a plea that doesn’t admit guilt.”
“I wouldn’t admit to something that I never did,” Bleiweiss said. “I’ve always believed in doing what’s right and I’m trying to keep pursuing that.”
Then, just three months ago, Jonathan Bleiweiss was arrested for violating the terms of his probation. His parole officer reported that Bleiweiss failed to complete his required sex offender treatment program.
Despite all this information, Elberg Mike Gelin did nothing to keep Jonathan Bleiweiss away from Tamarac residents.
Gelin gained notoriety in 2019 when he interrupted a commission awards ceremony for BSO Deputy Joshua Gallardo. Gelin recognized Gallardo as the man who arrested him in 2015. Gelin called Gallardo a “bad cop,” a “rogue police officer and accused Gallardo of lying on police report.
So why is Gelin snapping pics with a guy like Bleiweiss in a city building?
Doesn’t Gelin care about the hispanic men victimized by Bleiweiss?
Gelin regularly attacks fellow Commissioner Elvin Villalobos, a Hispanic male.
Or does Gelin only care about “rogue” BSO deputies that arrest him?
And this guy wants to be Mayor of Tamarac?