Friday, December 27, 2013

Judge Okays Release Of ICE Agent Charged With Bribery, Extortion

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A federal judge has ruled that a veteran U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent facing multiple charges that range from bribery to extortion can be released from federal detention while he awaits trial.

In an afternoon hearing, Federal Judge William Turnoff agreed to the release of Juan Martinez after his defense attorney showed that money which would be put up to meet his $250 thousand bond came from legal sources.
Martinez, a Special Agent with ICE, is charged with; 8 counts of extortion, 2 counts of bribery and 2 counts of false writing.

When he is released, Martinez will be outfitted with an ankle monitor to help enforce his 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.  He will have to surrender his weapons and passport.  He was also warned not to go anywhere near a train station or airport.

“If you sneeze wrong, I will revoke your bond,” said Judge Turnoff.
“Yes, sir,” replied Martinez.
In Martinez’s Kings Bay neighborhood, Teny Sharoff told CBS4’s Gary Nelson that she’s known Martinez for “many years” and described him as “a fine man” who has done many good things for her and others.
“He is innocent of these charges,” said Sharoff. “He is not guilty.”
According to prosecutors, federal investigators were led to Martinez in 2011 while following a money trail from a Colombian company.
Investigators reportedly tracked a man with $110,000 dollars cash to Bayside where they said that he gave that money to Martinez. As investigators looked into Martinez’s actions, they allegedly found more illegal activity.
Martinez, 47, is accused of extorting money from Colombian Company 1, a commercial and residential company located in Pereira, Columbia.
Martinez allegedly took bribes to bring people into the country by falsely claiming they were witnesses in drug cases. He’s also accused of taking liquor, airline tickets, a diamond ring and watch from individuals telling them that they could avoid prosecution.
The object of the conspiracy, per the indictment, was, “for Martinez and his con-conspirators to unlawfully enrich themselves by using Martinez’s official position to obtain large payments from Colombian Company 1,” along with other company individuals.

Martinez allegedly told the company, along with certain individuals associated with it, that is was about to be put on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list by Office of Foreign Asset Control, a Treasury Department list that freezes assets and prohibits any dealings with U.S. entities.
Martinez allegedly offered to keep them off the SDN list if they made large payments to Martinez and others.
Silvia Pinera-Vazquez, Martinez’s attorney, said that her client is innocent.
“We disagree with the government 100-percent. Agent Martinez has been a law enforcement agent for over 20 years. He has dutifully served his country. He denies every single paragraph of that indictment and is looking forward to a trial where is innocence will be proven,” said Pinera-Vazquez.
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the following statement: “ICE takes accusations of misconduct very seriously. As the matter is currently under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment on this specific case. As public servants working for a law enforcement agency, every employee at ICE is held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct.”

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Drug Court JudgeTo Enter Rehab After Court Meltdown During Which She Slurred Her Words, Ended Session Early And Screamed At Staff

  • Judge Gisele Pollack spoke in a slurred voice before ending a court session abruptly after an hour and a half
  • She was later seen screaming at her assistant and demanding her car keys
  • She presides over Broward County's misdemeanor drug court
  • Pollack did not show up for work the next day but appeared the day after
  • She said she will be entering a rehabilitation program over the holiday break
By Alex Greig

A Florida drug court judge is headed for rehab herself after an erratic performance at the bench last week.
Broward County Court judge Gisele Pollack, 55,  resided over the court for an hour and a half before abruptly walking out and ending the Tuesday's court session.

Audio of the incident recorded Pollack telling defendants they have to get clean in a slurred voice.
Addiction issues: After a brief and erratic appearance in court last week, Judge Gisele Pollack abruptly ended the session
Addiction issues: After a brief and erratic appearance in court last week, Judge Gisele Pollack abruptly ended the session

Addiction: The judge has made no secret of her struggles with drugs and alcohol
Addiction: The judge has made no secret of her struggles with drugs and alcohol

'You have to be warned... being clean...' she mumbled to a defendant.
'What?' said the defendant, confused.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, she was later seen yelling at her judicial assistant, demanding that her car keys be returned.
Treatment program: Judge Pollack established the Broward County misdemeanor drug court to help people addicted to drugs avoid criminal records
Treatment program: Judge Pollack established the Broward County misdemeanor drug court to help people addicted to drugs avoid criminal records

Pollack did not appear in court Wednesday, but returned to work Thursday where she did not address the incident but told a packed court of graduates of the misdemeanor drug court program that they must 'remain vigilant.'

She told Local 10 Thursday that she is suffering from depression.
'I have some health issues,' she said. 'I’m going into treatment for them. I have two weeks off starting [Friday]. I’m going to be in an intense outpatient program.'

'I'm a good judge and I'm going to ask you to please work with me,' she said.

Pollack, who has never made a secret of her past alcohol and drug abuse problems, was elected to the bench in 2004.

A year later, she established the misdemeanor drug court.

'Defendants prepared to go through a treatment program and six months worth of testing, supervision and staying clean would have the charges against them dismissed,' Pollack has said of the program.

Attorney Eric Schwartzreich, who is advising Pollack after Tuesday's breakdown, says the judge has had issues in her personal life recently.
A brief recess: Judge Pollack will be spending two weeks in rehab before returning to court in the new year
A brief recess: Judge Pollack will be spending two weeks in rehab before returning to court in the new year

Personal issues: Pollack has recently lost her mother and her son is reportedly seriously ill
Personal issues: Pollack has recently lost her mother and her son is reportedly seriously ill

'She’s had some severe personal tragedy in her life,' Schwartzreich told the Orlando Sentinel.
'Her mother recently passed away, and they were very close. It’s been really devastating for her.'

According to News 10, Pollack's son is suffering a serious illness, which could also have served to tip her over the edge.

Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, a longtime friend of Pollack's, says he hopes people will be accepting of her struggle.

'If this causes the people to not have faith and not have trust in what goes on in that drug courtroom, then she will have to step aside,' he said. 'My hope is is people will wrap their ever-loving arms around Judge Pollack just as she has wrapped her arms around thousands of people.'

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Foster Care Deaths Are A Failure Of Both Parties So FL Governor Scott Can Rest Easy

 Blog postings are by the founder and Executive Director, Kevin Cline, a former foster child. Link below

Picture Did I say rest easy?
I meant the man should be ashamed of him self but the Democratic Party can join the Republican Party in the dunce corner for those who help keep the status quo in place.
This is all while they put up a front for people in the public, who will be outraged for a day, from the latest tragedy.
Once all the moral outrage and bandwagon threads and comments about murdering the parents, castrating/sterilizing the poor on one end of the extreme and pay the child welfare worker more money as a response to a child murdered in foster care on their watch…once that is all done, officials will go back to business as usual until the next tragedy and then we will do it again.
Sorry Democrats but Republicans don’t have the monopoly on foster care deaths. Don’t point fingers if your own record is just as reprehensible. The foster care system is not one that is run better by either party. Democrats will claim they care about children more but in all honesty, when it comes to serious concrete changes, neither party has been a leader.
When something horrible happens that makes the news, democrats will always respond by advocating a bigger child welfare budget which includes increases for child protection investigations, hiring more state/county employees, more for foster care, and adoption but always includes a smaller piece of the pie for FAMILY PRESERVATION and REUNIFICATION. Most interesting enough is no connection drawn to the idea that if even a portion of this new found government wealth could be spent on helping families they supposedly care about, exponentially more families would be kept intact and far fewer kids would be entering the system. I’m not naive though and I fully realize that money cant solve this deep rooted problem.
Child welfare agencies have a culture and personality disorder and I feel in the end, that the only way things will change in the end is if we switch back to the days when child protection from an investigative standpoint was a police matter. One in which the police officer could investigate and then arrest if the case seemed to warrant it based off the evidence. These cases would be completely handled in criminal court and not dependency court.
This switch would involve caseworkers switching almost completely from a role of aggressive adversary.  we need to go back to where police handled the serious cases and child welfare workers served essentially as SOCIAL WORKERS. Today child welfare workers enjoy almost impenetrable legal immunity, unlimited power and no oversight combined with quotas and performance targets  as well as both reasonable and unreasonable public expectations. This all combines for a messed up system that aggressively recruits kids to take, then aggressively recruits middle and upper middle class families to take those kids but once they gain those families the system leaves them high and dry minus the money of course. this of course results in good parents being burned out and bad ones having their free reign on the kids they are supposed to be “protecting from the big bad parents”
Republicans can sometimes argue for the same things but tend to yell a bit more about getting government out of the way and sometimes a bit of lip service for parents rights which gets the democrats screaming screw the parents, its all about the kids….The poor family unit is what gets left out of the equation at the end of the day by both parties. Neither party talks about poor family integrity and how the system could be systematically changed so that it actually works for and with poor families who make up over 95 percent of child welfare involved families. Its always middle class middle class middle class and oh yeah middle class. In the end, its always how the system can take more children to cover its arse and appease a public which for a generation has been taught to loathe and hate child welfare involved families and so the public supports the taking of these children from poor families and it becomes unwilling to challenge a system full of angels doing god’s work.
Its bad PR to these days, akin to hugging a child molester, to publicly support child welfare involved parents and their kids together as a family because if we support them together, these kids are no longer false orphans in need of saving by those with means on both sides of the isle.
I do, in closing ask, how fair it is for a family to lose its foundation, the children, for being poor and maybe being homeless or not having  enough to eat or leaving the child with a relative who is too young because you have to work or smoking medical marijuana but still providing and raising your kids just fair is it that this happens and the parents are the monsters that every member of the public wants a piece of, while time and time again no one cares about the system we have all allowed to be created which takes from poor and gives to those with means, treasure for which we cant spare nor do we want to and when we fight back because that child ends up dead, raped, starved or xyz we are just angry. Don’t pay us any mind. we just lost our kids.