Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Parsing Hialeah, Mayor Julio Robaina, and Fraud

"The More He Did Borrow, The Bigger the Hole He Got."

That's easy for you to say.

You know, if the speaker was other than Alvin Entin, I'd mock the speaker. Because I got to. But with Alvin, its always possible he's pulling a Columbo. And even if he's not, how can you not love Alvin?

Alvin represented "Felipito", the flashy Hialeah jeweler sentenced in December to 10 years in the federal pen, for running a $40 million dollar ponzi scheme ( I know, I know: only 40 million! Chump change by Miami standards. But, we're talking Hialeah.)

Felipito started soliciting investors in 2006 to invest in his jewelry business, promising returns of 18 to 36 percent a year. He later promised up to 120 percent annual returns.

That doesn't sound too good to be true.

Mayor Julio apparently wanted in, to the tune of a $750,000 investment. And now the IRS is knocking, according to El Herald.

But when asked about the probe, JR declined to detail the loans made to Felipito, saying he "did not want to jeopardize the investigation."

Uh huh.

Julio shared something of his home life, however. According to the Herald, the two-term Hialeah mayor said his wife runs the household, including their personal finances.

``My wife deals with everything that has to do with my home. You ask me what we pay in the city and I can tell you the details. You ask me what we pay water, FPL in my home, I don't know,'' Robaina said. ``I'm not trying to blame her. I'm just saying she's the one who handles these things,'' Robaina said.

Sounds credible.

According to the Herald, "Robaina first said he had no direct business dealings with Perez. Two checks indicate otherwise, El Nuevo Herald has learned.

When Perez was first charged with fraud in June, Robaina told El Nuevo Herald that he did not have a direct business relationship with Perez. He said his wife's companies dealt with him.

Two checks obtained by El Nuevo Herald show Perez paid Robaina $6,00O -- $3,000 per check -- in September 2006. The checks were made out to Robaina. Robaina said the checks were interest payments on a loan that his wife's company made to Perez and that his name appeared erroneously."

Innocent mistake.

Alvin gets the last word.

``It is public that my client received three quarters of a million dollars from Julio Robaina. My client was repaying the loans at 36-percent-a-year interest. It is what it was,'' Entin said.

N.B.: As Yogi Berra said, you can observe a lot by watching.

Judge King Wants to See You, Mark

Remember when marijuana was the smuggler's livelihood? Doesn't that seem nostalgic? Like hearkening back to a simpler time.

31 years is a long time.

31 years ago, Miami's Best Criminal Defense lawyer, pictured below while delivering his closing argument in the Buju Banton trial , was in 4th grade.

31 years ago, Tom Meeks was the King of spring break, according to South Florida Lawyers.

Heck, 31 years ago Steel Hector & Davis not only existed, but was relevant.

One thing has NOT changed in 31 years: Judge King remains on the bench. And that is very bad news for Mark Phillips.

As the Herald reported, Mark was a reputed member of the "Black Tuna" Smuggling Ring and indicted on charges of racketeering, possession and distribution of marijuana in February 1980. After sitting through a month of trial before Judge King, Mark skipped out. Mark was convicted in absentia. Mark spent the next 31 years living pretty well in Chile, Germany, London and New York. Until he was apprehended today in a retirement community in West Palm.

So, guess who represented Mark before Judge King 31 years ago, according to the docket.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight!

So says Florida State Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker.

But, like Greg, why would I attend a gun fight?

In case you have not been to Baker, it is an unincorporated town in Okaloosa County, Florida, 10 miles northwest of the County Seat - Crestview - in the Florida Panhandle. The Baker Block Museum, where according to their link confederate flags are exhibited and sold, is housed in Baker.

Crestview had a population of 22,000 in 2008 , according to the US Census Bureau although whomever created the Wiki site for Crestview claims "82,500 residents live in the immediate area."

Like what, in the woods? In tents or survival pits? In Baker?

In 2007, Crestview Mayor Whitehurst, who had been mayor for nearly 20 years, resigned, leading to the inauguration of David Cadle, who had just retired from directorship of the Big Red Machine, the local high school's band.

When I attended band camp, my nickname was the Big Red Machine.

Speaking of nicknames, Crestview has many common nicknames, the most frequently used is "Hub City". "Hub City" got its name because its at the center of an interstate, two highways, a railroad, and two rivers. Also known as C-view, Crestucky, and The Big Skinny.

My first mate's new nickname is officially The Big Skinny. Because Tres Piernas seems immediately to garner too much attention when the women-folk board my vessel.

Anyhoo, back to Baker, Greg Evers, knives, guns and fights.

Don't underestimate Greg's ability to shape gun laws throughout the state in a way that will make it even easier for cop killers to buy guns.

Greg says, according to the Herald:

The explosion of gun violence hasn't gone unnoticed in the state Capitol, where lawmakers in the pro-gun Florida Legislature say the tragedies underscore the need to loosen the regulation of guns -- rather than restrict them.

``What these cases show is that gun regulation doesn't keep guns away from criminals,'' Sen. Greg Evers said. ``It's time we get more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens so they can protect themselves. You don't bring a knife to a gun fight.''

Ah yes, now I understand Greg, who is sponsoring two controversial gun bills this legislative session. One would restrict physicians from asking patients about the presence of firearms in the home. The other bill would allow holders of concealed weapon permits to wear their guns in the open -- including on college campuses.

Virginia Tech.

Nevertheless, folks in the Florida legislature are currently trying to pass a law to ban high-volume ammunition clips, such as the one used in the recent Tucson shooting rampage.

Not likely to happen, though, because gun-rights advocates like Evers say they oppose regulating the ammunition clips because it wouldn't keep them out of the hands of criminals. And many say the NRA controls which bills will likely pass or fail, because gun control is a thing of the past in the Florida Legislature.

I love that.

And how do the police feel about making sure guns flow like water?

``It's easier for a criminal to buy a gun than a can of beer,'' said Miami-Dade Sgt. John Rivera, president of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

Ah, John Rivera: now there's a bleeding heart liberal, soft-on-crime guy, if ever there was one.

Speaking of hearts, make sure to watch from 59 second to the 1 minute mark of the video , when Austin proclaims with each shot, "DEAD! DEAD IN THE HEART! DEAD!" Only, he's not shooting deer.

N.B.: Mr. Evers - You're no Jimmy Carter.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Do Bowman Brown and AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young have in Common?

Other than the school boy rep tie and good hair, probably not much, except that for both, all good things must come to an end.

Yup. The City Club is gone.

And as I thought I heard Bowman say, that really sucks.

As reported by the Herald:

"Yet, those who remained members of the Miami City Club like attorney Bowman Brown were disappointed to hear of the planned closing.

``It's a shame,'' said Brown, chairman of the executive committee at Shutts & Bowen. ``It's so convenient, right across the street from my office. It has some of the best views in town.''

"And sometimes, Angus and I would hang there and then head to the Deuce Bar until the sun came up."

(I added that last part.)

Shutts is for life.

Anyhoo, another piece of Miami passes.

NB - I miss the Deuce Bar - I have not been in far too long.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome, Governor Scott

So yeah, Rick Scott was sworn in as your Governor.

And he had a lot to say.

"It's hard to hide the fact that the wolf is at the door," Scott said.

Three forces -- taxation, regulation and litigation -- are choking Florida businesses, Scott said, his voice hoarse from a weeklong gala celebrating his inauguration: "Together those three form 'the Axis of Unemployment.'"

He's a wordsmith, this guy.

"It requires magical thinking to imagine government creates prosperity," he said.

"Government has no resources of its own. Government can only give to us what was previously taken from us."

He was ousted from the company he founded after the Columbia hospital chain was forced to pay a $1.7 billion settlement with the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Because you have to give back what you took, when you get caught, because it was taken away and then given to you but you weren't supposed to have it, but its magical to get it.

"We'll get rid of the agencies...," Scott said.

Alrighty, then.

Nevertheless, even though he promised to shrink government, he promised to create 700,000 new jobs in seven years. That's magic, right there.

Buckle up, folks.

NB you get what you vote for.