by Leigh Lundin
Not Just California
Last month, I wrote about a California kid who, after killing four people in a drunk driving accident, was deemed too rich for prison. A reader brought to my attention that something very similar happened not so long ago here in Florida. Jewelry scion Ryan LeVin killed two British visitors with his Porsche 911, then fled the scene and later attempted to blame a friend for the deaths. Apparently, LeVin paid off the widows and, instead of a thirty-year term, a judge sentenced him to two years home confinement in his parents’ ocean-side homes. (That’s homes, plural.) As The Pulp reported at the time, "He got grounded."
You may have read about convicted murderers Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins who used law library-forged release papers to walk out of prison. To further the deception, they actually registered as ex-felons at the Orange County Jail.
This was not the first time it's happened in Florida. In fact, the mastermind behind the escape, Nydeed Nashaddai, engineered his own short-lived escape five years earlier.
Icy Day in Hell / Hellish Day in ICE
With multiple airports and seaports, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expend a lot of resources in Florida. Unfortunately, some agents are open for business.
I nearly missed a re-election footnote and plan to write more about this later. One out of every 14,600 citizens of Duval County is on death row, the highest of any county in America. Like other counties around the nation with staggering death penalty prosecutions, this court district also has high incidence of prosecutorial misconduct.
You may not have heard that Florida elects public defenders, yet Matt Shirk ran for (and won) re-election with three planks in his platforms: (a) pledging not to take a confrontational stance with law enforcement, (b) cutting public funding for the defender’s office in a district in a state with one of the highest number of capital cases, and (c) billing defendants who are acquitted for legal services. In other words, the state prosecutes an innocent person and then sends that person a bill if they’re not guilty. And if a defense attorney isn’t supposed to challenge authorities, who is?
But Matthew Shirk did one thing more. One of his first acts in office was to fire attorneys who’d exposed public corruption. I might express dismay, but it’s a bit overshadowed by our dear governor.
From the Governor’s Office
It’s ironic the man who committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history worries about welfare fraud. No one wants to give hand-outs to drug addicts, but the Florida governor and legislature decided it would be a fine idea to skip probable cause and make pay-in-advance drug-testing mandatory for welfare recipients. Politicians intimated they would weed out at least 20% and possibly more than 50% of recipients. If you’re indigent, you might not have a spare $25-45 to pay for the test, even though the governor promised to reimburse those found drug free, which turned out to be a much greater amount than insinuated.
When opponents weren’t able to defeat the bill, they moved to make drug-testing of candidates for state office mandatory. Politicians and drugs? Oddly enough, lawmakers and the governor decided testing politicians was not a fine idea. One legislator said requiring him to pee in a cup like everyone else would violate his constitutional rights.
The much ballyhooed double digits figure of drug-infested welfare queens turned out to be less than 2%, far below the average population (8.9%) and 18-to-25-year-olds (21.5%).. A U.S. District Court has now ruled the law unconstitutional. Naturally, the governor will waste more money in appeals.