The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 28, 1998 · Page 140
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March 28, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 140

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Saturday, March 28, 1998
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Page 140
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The Palm Beach Post w SECTION B CRACKING DOWN The state Marine Patrol is checking boats for illegally clumping sewage RECORD TOTAL United Way of Palm Beach County's annual money drive tops $9 million STORY, 3B SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 1998 t nn A T , MF.WR Prosperi gets 3 years, $25,000 fine, old tax bill lawyer, including mail fraud and money-laundering charges, were thrown out at his November trial. Prosecutors said Prosperi wrote himself checks from the accounts of an offshore company set up by Donovan to buy Florida real estate. Among other things, he used the money to finance two waterfront homes in Palm Beach and Hobe Sound, Carlton said. Prosperi's two convictions were for tax returns in 1989 and 1990 that didn't report Please see PR0SPERI5B The Palm Beach society lawyer was convicted of filing false tax returns that omitted millions stolen from a client. By Scott Hiaasen Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Paul Prosperi, a well-known Palm Beach lawyer and society figure, was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for filing false tax returns that prosecutors said omitted millions of dollars he stole from a client. U.S. District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp also sentenced Prosperi to one year of probation and a $25,000 fine. The judge also ordered Prosperi to pay the unpaid taxes on the money he received from his client, Patrick Donovan, an Irish citizen. Federal prosecutors said those taxes exceed $700,000. Ryskamp threw out Prosperi's conviction on three counts of creating counterfeit securities. The judge said prosecutors should have introduced real certificates of deposit to compare with the fake ones prosecutors said Prosperi used to mislead Donovan about his ac counts. That does not take away from the court's conclusion that these were fraudulent documents," Ryskamp said. If the counterfeiting counts had remained, Prosperi could have faced as much as 6' years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton said he will recommend that his office appeal the judge's ruling. Prosperi, 48, would not comment. He remains free on $500,000 bond while he appeals his conviction which could take more than a year. Eleven other counts against the real estate Prosperi f" ' ' ?" ' fTl ' r s Si:. ' : - i M .... v ' I Brian E. Crowley Politics JL fit Si. .fum. B 4 J , I V f (J , i ' hfj II! Af. Sf i I 7. sir v-:r- V'. rM A iim- 'fr xz --11 L. 1 V E.A. KENNEDY IllStaff Photographer Former patient Francine Pete gets a hug from nurse Shannon Martin as Laura Freeman wipes away tears over the closing of Everglades Regional Hospital. Everglades hospital lays off 225 employees Blacks' quarrel with Florida Democrats still growing Today, an angry U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings is in Jacksonville where he is continuing to plot with fellow black leaders for retribution against the Florida Democratic Party. By now anyone reading a political column knows the basic story. White Democratic state House leaders ousted the first black House-speaker designate. Furious black lawmakers walked out before the vote vowing revenge. Since that January moment, the rift between many black and white leaders has widened and deepened. This week, there was another jolt. A meeting between white and black leaders scheduled to take place today was suddenly canceled. What was supposed to be an effort to bring people together instead has pushed them further apart Progress appears minimal v "Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party, said he canceled the meeting because Broward lawmakers are in Tallahassee for the session. "I've been trying diligently to bring both sides together," Ceasar said. "We had one meeting about a month ago and I thought we made some progress. But there is no question that we have a long way to go in the Democratic Party to bring everyone together." Hastings believes that if state lawmakers wanted to attend the meeting they would take the time to do it. It is not uncommon for state lawmakers to go back to their districts on weekends. Hastings noted that he gave up an invitation to travel with President Clinton to Africa because of the meeting. Logan ouster at the center Feelings in Broward have been particularly harsh since the ouster of Rep. Willie Logan of Opa-locka from the leadership post It was Broward lawmakers who led the rebellion and anointed one of their own, Rep. Ann MacKenzie of Fort Lauderdale, to take his place. Outraged black leaders declared political war on the 31 white lawmakers who voted against Logan. Their first battleground was a special senate election two weeks ago in a largely Broward district Democrat Steve Geller, one of those who voted against Logan, won the race. But in a historic first, a majority of black voters voted for his Republican opponent. They did so, because Hastings asked them to do it After the election, Hastings gave a dire warning: If Florida Democrats fail to make amends for what happened to Logan, Hastings and other black leaders will work to help Republican Jeb Bush become governor. A promise of polarization Hastings alluded to that threat in a letter to Ceasar about the canceled meeting. "I must repeat to you how absolutely critical it was, and is, for us to have face-to-face dialogue, immediately," Hastings wrote. "Such a meeting is imperative if we ti-ish fn avnid further oolarization within emergency room, expected to remain open for up to two months, she is one of the few employees who still have jobs. But she cried when Tamika Holmes dashed in to ask if the hospital was really closing. Holmes moved in January from the Glades to West Palm Beach, but said she still drives the hour to Everglades' emergency room when she or her children have asthma attacks. "I'm comfortable with the doctors," she said. "I love this place I had my babies here." Please see m?XlMJ3B asked a judge Friday to step into the dispute, and Everglades' administrators haven't completed all the steps the state requires to close a hospital. For now, the emergency room remains open, though patients who need longer-term care will be transferred elsewhere, and Everglades' ambulance corps is still covering the county's western end. Seventy-five employees were kept to run the ER and the ambulances, said hospital administrator Don Anderson. But the situation seemed clear to Teresa Brancati. As a nursing supervisor in the p.m. 30 others already had been moved out and relatives were coming to pick her up. Medical devices sat unplugged in the hall. The five nurses didn't need to be there, but they didn't want to go. Burdened with debts and lawsuits, the hospital came close to closing two weeks ago. "But we never really, 100 percent thought it would happen," said nursing supervisor Laura Freeman. "It's happened, but it's still a shock." Officially, it's not clear what will happen to the 62-year-old hospital. The Palm Beach County Health District The county health district on Friday asked a court to establish a date for the district to take control. A hearing is set for Tuesday. By Jennifer Peltz Palm Beach Post Staff Writer PAHOKEE The nurses picked apart their identity badges, looking for something they could keep. They were among at least 225 employees laid off Friday at Everglades Regional Medical Center. The facility had only one patient at 12:30 'I have a gun and Fm planning to use it on myself Spanish River guidance counselor still feels drained from negotiating i : ; " V s' Judge: Teens will wait in jail WEST PALM BEACH - Five teenagers arrested in the beating death of a man on Singer Island sit in court Friday, where a circuit judge orders them to remain in custody while prosecutors prepare formal charges: (from left) Daniel Yinh, 17, Dennis Buchard, 16, Scott Roon, 16, Scott Heard, 17, and Brad Heard, 15. STORY, 2B RICHARD GRAUUCHStaff Photographer on the phone with a suicidal teen By Lisa Ocker Palm Beach Post StaffWriter BOCA RATON Pulled from a meeting for a phone call, the Spanish River High School counselor asked what the emergency was. A student was on the line. He would speak only i ? City administrator hopes all's forgiven with ner, ana ne naa a gun 10 ms head. Hurrying to the phone, Valerie Mazzella had time for a little prayer "Help me find the right words." Friday, Mazzella recounted the episode that ended safely after she found the words that helped persuade the 16-year-old student to give up to sheriffs deputies more than two hours after calling her. Mazzella "I have to separate the fact that he has done so much and is a valuable part of my team," Graham said Wednesday. Keeping Wright means Graham may not lose another prized member of her team: Wright's wife, Karen, the mayor's executive assistant since August 1995. By virtue of their positions, the Wrights hold tight control over access to Graham, at times making it difficult for anyone to see the mayor without their approval. This week's tumult involving Heast set WRIGHTS chose him four years ago from a pool of 400 to help her rebuild the city. It also has led to his offer to quit his $lll,770job. "I admit one of my shortcomings is my bottom line attitude," he wrote Graham. "Often I sought forgiveness rather than asked permission." On Friday. Wright sought Graham's forgiveness by returning a $7,500 bonus she gave him and offering to resign. Graham could not be reached for comment Friday but said this week she would reject his resignation. A city hall source said Friday that Wright sull has his job. He returns his $7,500 bonus and submits his resignation as promised. By Marcia Gelbart Palm btacM Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH City Administrator Michael Wright works by the philosophy "seek forgiveness, not permission." He looks beyond the red tape, focusing on the when and not always the how. That approach, he says, makes risks easier to take, and jobs more likely to get done. It's why Mayor Nancy Graham ! the party, especially in light of important upcoming elections." Ceasar said he feels caught in the middle of an extraordinarily difficult situation that started in Tallahassee and quickly spread across the state. Meanwhile, Florida Democrats will be listening carefully to whatever Hastings and other black leaders say in Jacksonville today. Brian E Crowley is political editor for The Palm Ikach Post. He can be reached at 82Q4723 or by t-maU at Briancpbpost.com Mazzella, a counselor for 11 years and coordinator of the school's guidance department, had dealt with teens who talked of suicide but never one a trigger pull away from doing it. She had worked with this student for 14 years, she said, although their talks were less frequent this year because he had done well the first semester. Picking up the phone Thursday morning, she tried a light hearted approach: "Hey, what's hap- Please see COUN$ELOR5

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