The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 25, 1998 · Page 77
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March 25, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 77

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Wednesday, March 25, 1998
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2B THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 1998 W ll'LUlUU LlLlLtV Butler rests case without witnesses or evidence t.$$ PALM BEACH nteract,ve Up to 20 stories from 56 area communities at www. GoPBI.comYourTown Attorney Phil Butler will mount his own and only defense during closing arguments of his bribery trial. By Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH After telling a judge last week that he "absolutely" intended to put on a defense, Phil Butler stood in court on Tuesday and rested his case without offering any evidence or witnesses. Butler's decision means that he will have the last word in his bribery trial. Butler, who asked for 90 minutes for his closing arguments this morning, will be al lowed to split his remarks a legal maneuver called a "sandwich" which is given to the defense when it calls no witnesses. Although Butler will not be allowed to present facts not already in evidence, he can argue his case during closing arguments without subjecting himself to cross-examination. Butler announced he would not put on a case after "strenuously and vigorously" objecting to the testimony of Kathy Snow, the ex-wife of James Clyde Baber HI. Baber testified that he gave Butler $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions for Butler's failed 1996 campaign for state attorney after Butler promised that he would take care of Baber's : 1995 DUI manslaughter case if elected. Snow, divorced from Baber last week, testified that she fre- quently heard her ex-husband discussing the campaign with Butler and also heard Butler explain that he "would be able to get (Baber) off." Snow also said she was angry with Butler because he had discouraged Baber from going to a residential alcohol treatment center in the summer of 1996, saying it would do him no good in his criminal case. During cross-examination Snow also said her husband did talk about fleeing to Costa Rica but changed his mind after visiting the country in 1996. ' ' " ' "r - '--- J ' ' ' Baby killed after mom crashes van fleeing police - h. Jr ' i The pursuit ended "because the officer doesn't want to endanger the driver's life or anyone else's just for a traffic stop.' LT. PEMBR00K BURROWS Florida Highway Patrol BILL INGRAMStaff Photographer A 23-foot Nova motorboat was run ashore about 6:30 p.m. Monday night behind the Briny Breezes clubhouse on SR A1A, Florida Marine Patrol officials said. FMP said they don't know how many people were on the boat or who they were. The boat, registered in the Bahamas, had been anchored to land. Officials learned Tuesday afternoon that it had been reported stolen in the Bahamas Tuesday, said Briny Breezes Manager Don Faron. At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Briny Breezes had SeaTow pull it away. doesn't want to endanger the driver's life or anyone else's just for a traffic stop," Burrows said. '. Troopers had not yet com-' pleted calculations to determine how fast the car was traveling. Pena lost control of the . Chevrolet van on a curve and crashed north of Inlet Cay Drive, north of the public beach. Burrows said the van went off the west side of the road, hit two trees and spun, throwing Pena . from the driver's seat, landing on top of her. Andrews came around the corner, saw what had happened and called for help, a neighbor said. Within minutes, the front of the car was in flames. No charges were filed Tues-; day. Burrows said FHP would refer the case to the state attorney's ' office. By Monika Gonzalez Palm Beach Post Staff Writer OCEAN RIDGE A 1-year-old girl was killed and her mother injured in a fiery wreck Tuesday shortly after a police officer stopped pursuing their speeding van for running a red light, officials said. Wendy Susan Pena, 25, of Delray Beach, was in critical condition at Delray Medical Center after firefighters had to lift the van off of her crushed body after the 2:50 a.m. crash. Pena's daughter, Imar Rivera, who appeared to have been thrown from her car seat into the front seat of the car, died at the scene. Authorities said it was unclear whether the toddler died from the impact, the smoke or the flames that engulfed the front of the van. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Pena was heading BELLE GLADE Longtime City Attorney north on State Road ALA when Ocean Ridge police Sgt. Michael Andrews saw her run the red light at Cordova Avenue, at the south end of town. Andrews tried to pull her over, but Pena's van was speeding so fast, he decided it was safer to turn off his lights and stop pursuing her, FHP Lt. Pembrook Burrows said. "That's because the officer John Baker told commissioners Monday he's ready to retire as soon as they find someone to replace him. Baker, 80, who also has a pri vate practice, has held the job since 1962. Commissioners want his replacement to work full time for the city. They recently advertised the job in trade publications but received no response, Mayor Steve Weeks said. They are expanding the search. charge of exploitation of the elderly. Police said Perez borrowed $23,000 from his landlady, Vivian Newton; $28,500 from Marann Zimmerman, and about $7,000 from Carol Santoiemma. He kept all but $5,000, police said. Perez is being held in the St. Lucie County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. Police ask anyone else who may have been a victim of Perez to call Detective Todd Schrader at 871-5230. WEST PALM BEACH Two separate drive-by shootings Tuesday afternoon left five men wounded, police said. In the first incident, men in a red car opened fire about 4 p.m. on three men at Ninth Street and Douglass Avenue. The victims, who drove themselves to Good Samaritan Medical Center, were in good condition. About 45 minutes later, two men in a white car were shot at from an automatic weapon in another vehicle at 25th Street and Tamarind Avenue. They were in serious condition at Good Samaritan. Names were not released. BELLE GLADE City commissioners agreed Incumbent, newcomer win in Lake Worth commission runoff Monday to pay $12,000 to settle a claim of police brutality. Former officer Andrew Drew shot Ralph Ramsay in January 1996. Drew, hired three weeks before, said Ramsay had attacked him with pepper spray and a brick and appeared to be threatening him with a gun. State Attorney Barry Krischer ruled the 7 think the voters looked at the past performance over the last five years. I helped rescue the town. ' LLOYD CLAGER Lake Worth city commissioner shooting justified; Ramsay pleaded guilty to battery and resisting arrest. But in his lawsuit, Ramsay said he hadn't threatened the officers and the city hadn't trained or supervised them properly. Drew was fired after supervisors said he was too forceful in making . a January 1997 arrest. Barry University will begin the first of a series of courses on WXEL-TV in July that will enable viewers to obtain a bachelor's degree in ; liberal studies. The first course, consisting of By Scott McCabe Palm Beach Post Staff Writer LAKE WORTH Five-year incumbent Doyd Clager beat political newcomer Joe Egly Tuesday in the city commission's District 4 runoff election. In District 2, C.H. "Mac" McKinnon, 71, also a newcomer, held his narrow first-round lead to beat Michael Coonerty, who served on the commission from 1988 to 1992. Just 14.2 percent of the city's registered voters showed up at the polls. Clager and McKinnon agreed that their priorities would be to remodel the municipal golf course and devote more money to fixing the city's streets. The runoff was forced two weeks ago, when a crowded field of seven prevented any candidate from winning the majority needed for election. ference. "I think the voters looked at the past performance over the last five years. I helped rescue the town," he said. Egly said he wasn't sure whether he would enter politics again. "Right now, it doesn't feel real comfortable," Egly said. "I'm going to have to step back and take a look at it, but I will stay involved in the community." McKinnon, a former Lake Worth coach and athletic director, celebrated with Clager at a party with friends. "This is probably the biggest moment of my life," he said. "It's , humbling to think that I'm going to represent 30,000 people." Coonerty couldn't be . reached. Commissioners serve two-year terms and are paid $4,200, plus $5,000 in expenses. Despite weeks of consultations with the White House, the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies canceled an expected news conference and had no announcements Tuesday on how they plan to ease abnormally high water levels in the Everglades. Options include steering water into the habitat of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow possibly driving it to extinction or putting the water onto private land in the northeast corner of Everglades National Park. ; 10 televised programs of 60 minutes each, will be on American poetry. Students will consult with the instructor through e-mail or telephone and take tests at Barry's site in Boynton Beach or the main campus in Miami Clager's victory was something of a turnaround. In the March 10 general election, Egly failed to win outright but outdrew Clager by 83 votes, or 3.4 percentage points. On Tuesday, the 70-year-old Clager won with 52 percent of the vote; Egly drew 48 percent. McKinnon, meanwhile, took 58 percent of the vote to Coonerty's 42 percent. Clager said Lake Worth's economic growth made the dif Shores. I ne cost for the three-credit course is $215 per credit, the same as for regular classes. Barry, which took over VXEL last fall, said four additional television classes will be added in the fall. For information, call (800) 945-2279. Lawyer says money taken by mistake The Supreme Court has rejected a Florida woman's appeal by West Palm Beach attorney Elliot Shaw and let stand the state laws against prostitution. The justices, without comment on Monday, turned away arguments that the laws violate what a former call girl's appeal called her constitutionally protected right to have sex for pay. The appeal was filed on behalf of a woman identified as Jane Roe II. "Jane Roe" was the pseudonym used by the woman whose lawsuit resulted in the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling that in 1973 banned states from outlawing most abortions. WELLINGTON Eastbound traffic will be switched to the new roadway at 11 a.m. Thursday on South Shore Boulevard from Green-- view Shores Boulevard to Big Blue Trace, I Palm Beach County's Traffic Division announced. South Shore is being widened to four lanes from two. Westbound traffic will remain in its current configuration and no Mane closures are scheduled. RIVIERA BEACH A John F. Kennedy die School band teacher was charged Tuesday ;with four more counts of lewd assault after end of the day, the port got its ; money. It might not be sweet and tied in a neat package, but the ' port got its money." .! Port Commissioner Brown J, said Tuesday he intends to report Cook's actions to the Florida Bar. ' J.R. Phelps, a director with the ' Florida Bar in Tallahassee, said it J is against Bar rules for lawyers to ' commingle their office accounts with trust funds, which contain .' clients' money. The penalty for .' such action ranges from disbar- ment to an order to attend a one-day class on legal ethics, de- pending on whether the action . was intentional or simply a mistake, he said. obtained Tuesday. "Why did you do that? It was our money!" said Mastics. "I've never done that in my life as a lawyer for 43 years." "It was done in error. It was not stolen money," said Cook, who has a private law practice in North Palm Beach. The two other port commissioners, Blair Ciklin and Steven Schwack, came to Cook's defense, but they were not able to change the minds of the other three commissioners. "I think (Cook's) reputation in this community far, far outweighs these little problems that we've had here," said Schwack. "At the PORT From IB "There are requirements that lawyers must follow to (safeguard) the property of their clients, to maintain trust accounts, and to follow the law," said Mastics, a Palm Beach lawyer. "I don't fathom how Bob would do this." Mastics and the two other commissioners confronted Cook about the money Thursday at a meeting and forced him to admit that he broke the Florida Bar's rules concerning trust funds when he closed the account on Jan. 30. The meeting tapes were LAKE WORTH Teachers at Lake Worth Middle School have helped open a benefit fund for a student still hospitalized more than a month after beinz hit bv a car. SiYth-trrarW Elizabeth Echevarria, 12, is in a coma at St Mary's Medical Center. Echevarria was hit at Forest Hill Boulevard and Florida Ma Road at about 9:30 D.m. Feb. 14 Donation four more girls, ages 13-15, told police he fondled them, police Detective Pat Galligan said. Maurice E. Le Flore. 22, of 1258 W. 26th Court, was charged Monday with four counts of lewd assault on four other teen girls, Galligan said. The girls said the incidents happened in Le Flore's office or in the band room, police said. Le O may be sent to First Bank of Florida, Benefit Fund for Elizabeth Echevarria. 2950 10th Ave. N., Lake Worth, Fla., 33461. LeFlore Paglias focus on families, seniors John F. Burke Jr. M. of Wed Palm Rrh was in critical condition Tuesday after he blacked out durintr a bad roiiFhino- r-!1 anrl crashed into a tree along Florida's Turnpike, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Burke, of 1302 Meadowbrook Drive, was driving onnth Flore has been suspended with pay by the Palm Beach County school district He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail on $40,000 bond. PORT ST. LUCIE Police have added two grand theft charges against a Port St. Lucie man they say has bilked city women out of about $60,000. The new charges stem from the discovery of additional victims, police say. Dominic Perez, 22, also known as Mike Rocco, was arrested Tuesday morning. He faces three grand theft charges and one 4 miles south of luniter when ho inct rnntrnl of his 1 997 Ford at 6:05 p.m. Monday. lie was hospitalized at St. Marv's Mediral Cen PAGUA From IB munities. It would provide a place for senior and teen activities, Pa-glia said, and could be shared with Royal Palm Beach. Both villages are now negotiating with the club owner to rent the pool for the summer. "I'm just going to try to be a good councilman to the yt-uth. to the average families, to Seniors Tyson is satisfied with current public safety. The factions among the residents trouble Tyson, and he wanted to "bring people together." He supported the village takeover of code enforcement from First Wellington, and "would like to see a diminished role" for the homeowners association. Paglia's firs meeting will March 31. His t-rm is two years and those of us who are key business people who are the economic thrust of the village," he said. Tyson, who owns Bill Tyson Auto Repair, wanted to make sure the council is responsive, and that situations like the S)rint tower being approved without public hearings aren't repeated. He supported careful growth, but said the village should watch the development closely tf guard against overdevelopment. ter. Burke was not wearing his seat hw-lt troopers said.

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