Featured

Weekly Newsletter

We’re starting a weekly newsletter. Most people find out about our articles through Facebook, which doesn’t show every article to every person who “Likes” our Facebook page. Some articles do very well, while others don’t reach many people.

We can tell a lot of people miss a lot of our articles. Some complain that all we write about is crime, when that’s at most 20% of what we cover. Others ask questions that we’ve already answered (“What’s going on with the old Walmart?”).
The weekly newsletter will include links to our best articles of the preceding week.
Please sign up!


Continue reading “Weekly Newsletter”

No Administrator Left Behind in Palm Beach County Schools

Superintendent Donald Fennoy is paid $290,000 a year, plus $12,000 a year in deferred compensation, free use of a district vehicle, and a $12,000-a-year expense account. Not bad for a 41-year-old with no previous experience in the top job. His promotion came with a total pay increase of over $100,000.

The Palm Beach County School District plans to cut only teachers – and only teachers- if the school property tax increase is voted down. No administrators would lose their jobs and vendors who supply the district will continue reaping millions.

The district has been “informing” the public about the upcoming vote. Most recently this was manifested in an e-mail sent this afternoon. One of the most prominent claims in the e-mail is that the measure will “continue funding for 650 teachers in Art, Music, PE, Choice and Career [sic].” We calculate that if 650 teachers cost the district on average approximately $76,000 a year (including salary, benefits and expenses), that adds up to the full $50 million the district says it will have to cut from the budget.

The “650 teachers” number is used frequently in district communications.

It’s not the first time the 650 reference has been made. It is a central part of the message the district has been pushing on the ballot question. It appears in a pdf document that indicates it was created in late August, and on other similar documents on the district’s page about the referendum.

Again and again they mention the 650 teachers:

The use of this language strongly suggests that if the measure does not pass, 650 teachers in those areas will be laid off. We personally have heard school district employees say exactly that. Of course there’s no indication in any of the district’s “information” regarding the potential loss of any administrator jobs. This fits with longstanding local, state and federal education policies that we refer to as “No Administrator Left Behind.” Teachers get no raises. The air conditioning doesn’t work. But don’t worry folks – we’ve got plenty of well paid administrators. See for example Andrew Marra’s recent Palm Beach Post article: The number of PBC school execs making $140K has nearly tripled in 2 years.

We decided to ask the school board members from West Boca and district officials to explain where the 650 number comes from. So far we have not gotten a straightforward answer.

School board member Karen Brill responded quickly and more thoroughly than anyone else so far. We thank her for that. She opened with the following:

It’s interesting that you are asking this because in our Board discussion regarding the Referendum, I asked our CFO what the contingency plan is if the Referendum fails. I was told there is no contingency plan. That does concern me.

Brill also addressed our specific questions:

Q: If the property tax measure fails, will you vote to cut 650 art, music, pe, choice and career teacher positions?

A: No. Art, Music, PE, Choice and Career Programs are essential components of our District’s offerings. These are the programs that motivate our children, enhance their education and make for higher levels of learning.

Q: Have you considered alternatives such as reducing administrator pay and eliminating administrative positions?

A: Absolutely. It is will be essential that we will have to look at every possible alternative in order to maintain the funding for the teaching positions you outlined above.

Q: What will you do if the vote fails?

A: First, you should know that there will not be an impact in this school year. The first thing we would need to do is convene a Board Workshop to discuss staff’s and the Board’s recommendations of areas where consolidation and cost reductions can be made. Obviously we would have to begin addressing the situation immediately.

Brill closed with the following:

In addition to the above, my comment is that it is regrettable that those at the state level do not believe that funding public education is a priority. We are now 44th in the nation on the amount the state funds to educate our students. That’s deplorable! Recruitment and retention of teachers at the salaries Districts are forced to pay is extremely difficult. In addition, changes in our world have necessitated changes in the physical structure of our schools to enhance school safety. An area of particular need is the hiring of additional mental health professionals. Whatever the outcome of the Referendum vote, we all need to work together for the benefit our children. Although cliché, it truly does take a village.

School board member Frank Barbieri also responded quickly but briefly:

If the tax levy fails, I’ll ask (and I believe the other Board Members will ask) the Superintendent to provide the School Board with all available options so that we can make an informed decision as to how we should proceed.

We’re not terribly thrilled with that answer. The administrators are unlikely to include cutting their own pay and jobs as one of the options.

We also e-mailed Superintendent Fennoy and COO Wanda Paul, with similar questions to the ones Brill answered. We did not get a direct response from Fennoy or Paul, but rather got an anonymous response from the district media staff:

Our questions:

Superintendent Fennoy and COO Paul,

Does the school district have a plan to cut 650 teachers from art, music, pe, careers, and choice programs if the ballot question fails?

Where did the 650 number come from?

Has the district considered other alternatives such as lowering administrator pay or cutting administrator positions? Any other alternatives?

And the anonymous response:

The District has a current .25 mil approved by voters that funds the salaries of 650 arts, career, pe, and health teachers. It is due for renewal this November – the District is asking for a full 1 mill this November.

Should the referendum not pass in November, the District will have to cut $50 million, the amount currently funded by voters, from its budget. This is an extensive amount of money that would have to include deep cuts at the district and school level. Since 70% of the District’s budget is in manpower, there would undoubtedly be cuts of positions at all levels, from support positions, to teachers, to administrators.

This will have a negative impact on our ability to serve students and compensate our employees. Hundreds of jobs will be eliminated and remaining employees may be subject to unpaid furloughs as we work to balance the budget. There will be no prospect of employee raises for teachers or any other employee group in the foreseeable future if the District is forced to make these draconian budget cuts.

It is telling that the response does not in any way explain the 650 number they keep repeating. And it does not limit the potential cuts to the specific ones mentioned in the political messaging we’re all paying for.

“There would undoubtedly be cuts of positions at all levels, from support positions, to teachers, to administrators.”

That is very different. But we think we’ve figured it out. The district’s answer references a $50 million cut. As described above cutting 650 teachers would add up to $50 million. So the district’s numbers indicate they plan to cut only teachers. However, if the response we received today is accurate, the repeated message about funding for 650 teachers is a lie. The district has a history of lying to the public in order to win a tax increase, and the board follows by giving pay raises to the liars despite ongoing failures to fix simple things like air conditioning.

It is also interesting to note the political decision made by the district staff and school board. Facing the expiration of the .25 mill tax, they decided to reach for a full 1 mill, a 400% tax increase. An alternative strategy might have been one measure to renew the existing .25 mill tax along with a second measure to add on another .75 mill tax.

The increase will cost the typical West Boca homeowner roughly $400 per year. The actual increase will depend on the home’s appraised value.

Residents should be reassured by the other e-mail we received from the district today. The important work of our administrators will go forward no matter what:

Perhaps some of our readers thought the purpose of our schools was to educate children. Nope. It’s to help vendors build multi-million dollar companies and keep administrators employed and well paid.

RatOn Restaurants: Roaches, Rodents and More in West Delray

Fratelli’s Italian Grill at Atlantic and Jog had the worst inspection report in late September with a closure for roaches and rodents.

Roach activity present as evidenced by live roaches found….approximately over 50 live roaches in reach in cooler gasket at cook line , approximately 10 live roaches underneath floor mat at cook line, 2 live roaches in oven by the wall at cook line.

Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found….two fresh rodent droppings, approximately 20 dry rodent droppings inside cabinet below coffee and soda dispenser.

They had a total of 24 violations, 6 of them high priority, with a stop sale for temperature abuse on the tomato soup. Inspectors came back the next day and found “6 live roaches in attached draining tray below reach in cooler at kitchen.”

There were more big numbers in West Delray including Apeiro in Delray Marketplace. Apeiro had 21 violations with a whopping 12 marked high priority. Several items were hit with a stop sale order for temperature abuse:

eggplant spread 51°, chicken wings 51°, feta 45°, tziatziki sauce 46° … roasted tomato 53, saffron cream sauce 51°, pasta 55° butter 52°

There was another stop sale for expired home made Caesar dressing, an administrative complaint for “approximately 10 flies in Dishwashing area landing on cleaned dishes,” and a dishmachine not adequately sanitizing dishes.

Two follow-up inspections continued to show problems including more temperature issues on numerous items the next day, and still a few more minor issues the day after that.

Also in Delray Marketplace, Terra Fiamma had 21 violations including 6 high priority. Other big numbers in West Delray include:

  • Basilic Vietnamese (21 violations, 6 high priority)
  • Bagel Tree (19, 7)
  • Yellowtail Modern Asian (20, 6)
  • Cinebowl & Grille (14, 6)

In West Boca, China Wok in Sandalfoot Square had 23 violations, 4 high priority. La Casa de Peinado near Sandalfoot on 441 had 22 violations, 3 high priority. Mozart Cafe at Powerline and Camino Real had 18 violations, 4 high priority.

Good News

On the bright side, the Shadowood theater had a perfect inspection. Brooklyn Boys Pizza in Shadowood and the Chipotle on Glades at Butts were near perfect with just one minor violation for each. Inspectors found 3 violations each for Puccini’s Pizzeria on Yamato at 441, Morton’s Steakhouse in Town Center, Willie’s Sushi Bar in Polo Club Shoppes, and Holloway’s Irish Pub in Boca Pointe.

One of our favorite places, Teriyaki Madness in Mission Bay, had only four minor violations. The newish West Delray BurgerFi on Atlantic near the Turnpike also had four.

Inspectors reported five violations each for City Fish Market, First Watch on St. Andrews, and the Chipotle on Palmetto Park near Powerline.

Boca Pointe’s plaza had a licensing inspection for Don Chepos Taco Shop.

Other notables in this report:

  • Shula Burger in Delray Marketplace (7 violations, 4 high priority)
  • Tijuana Flats on Powerline near Palmetto (7, 0)
  • Pollo Tropical on St. Andrews (7, 1)
  • Boca Indian Grill in Mission Bay (8, 2)
  • Shinju Buffet on Glades (8, 1)
  • Tilted Kilt on Airport Road (9, 1)
  • Padano in Loggers’ Run (10, 0)
  • Tempura House on Clint Moore at 441 (11, 2)
  • Ditmas at Boca Grove (11, 4)
  • Batch Gastropub in Delray Marketplace (11, 3)

Our full spreadsheet for this report is here as a pdf or below:

allinsp-10-7-2018

63 Violations at Life Bar & Grill in Boca: RatOn Restaurants

This may be the biggest number we’ve seen in a restaurant inspection yet. On September 12th inspectors reported 63 total violations in a licensing inspection at Life Bar & Grill at 180 S. Federal Highway.

180 S. Federal Highway; image by Google.

The restaurant doesn’t seem to be open yet and we can’t find much information. We have a hunch it’ll be some kind of Haitian food but that’s only a hunch. It’s not clear where the restaurant will be at the location as there are existing restaurants. Reports indicate that Taco Prince closed so it might be that spot on the corner. It should be noted that only two of the violations were marked as high priority.

Outside of that wild result, we noticed a few not-so-great inspections closer to home. Long Island Bagel, near Target in West Boca Square, had 21 violations including 6 high priority including a stop sale:

  • Employee failed to wash hands before changing gloves and/or putting on gloves to work with food. Employee at cash register handled money then touched RTE food put gloves on – no handwash. Bus boy touched dirty dishes then handled plates of food. Employee washing dishes handled dirty dishes then handled clean dishes without washing hands. Cook cracked shell eggs then handled clean dishes to plate pancakes and bagels – no handwash.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 10 lbs. of mashed potatoes as per manager cooling for 2 days (50°F – Cooling); 5 qts of lentil soup as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); 5 qts of sautéed onions as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); 15 qts. of heart salad as per manager cold holding overnight in wic (60°F – Cold Holding) See Stop Sale
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cooked/heated yesterday/on a previous day not cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 41 degrees Fahrenheit within a total of 6 hours. Food has been cooling overnight. 10 lbs. of mashed potatoes as per manager cooling for 2 days (50°F – Cooling); 5 qts of lentil soup as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); 5 qts of sautéed onions as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); See stop sale.
  • Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food in walk-in cooler. Raw bacon stored over chicken soup in wic. Raw chicken stored over cream cheese in wic. **Repeat Violation**
  • Raw animal foods not properly separated from each other in holding unit. Raw chicken stored in same container with raw salmon in wic.
  • Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. 10 lbs. of mashed potatoes as per manager cooling for 2 days (50°F – Cooling); 5 qts of lentil soup as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); 5 qts of sautéed onions as per manager cooling overnight in wic (52°F – Cooling); 15 qts. of heart salad as per manager cold holding overnight in wic (60°F – Cold Holding) See Stop Sale

New Golden China on Palmetto Park near Powerline had 20 violations, with two high priority.

Others with big numbers include:

19 violations: Jon’s Place (1 high priority); Lucky Palace (2); Mozart Cafe (6)
18 violatons: Hong Kong Palace (2); Bluefin in Parkland (3); Sun Yat in Parkland (1)
17 violations: Japango in Parkland (7); Pollo Tropical (4); Chill & Grill Pita (2)
16 violations: Sandalfoot Bagel (4); MeSen Thai Sushi on SW 18th (2); Zingers on Beracasa (2); Moon Thai on St. Andrews (3)

Good News

There were a number of perfect inspections. Most notable locally was Moon Tavern in Boca Greens, which has had many great inspection reports. Other perfect inspections were:

Chick Fil-A in Town Center
Haagen Dazs in Town Center
Bagel Wit a Schmear on Federal Highway
Keke’s Breakfast Cafe on Palmetto (Licensing)
Taco Fresh on Spanish River Blvd
Amitie Cafe on Yamato

Near perfect inspections with just one violation include:

Fresh Bites Cafe in Mission Bay
Tomasso’s on Palmetto Park
Denny’s on Palmetto Park
Moe’s SW Grill near Town Center
Pummarola in Town Center

Our full pdf is below and it’s worth reading because there’s a lot more.

allinsp-9-23-2018

Lasorda Killed in Accident with Boca Police Vehicle

Joseph Smokey Lasorda, picture from Facebook.

Joe “Smokey” Lasorda died last night in an accident with an unmarked Boca Raton police SUV. Lasorda, 83, was the brother of Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the LA Dodgers and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Smokey was also the founder of the former Lasorda’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Exton, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He had retired to Florida and lived in Colonnade at Glen Oaks near Yamato and Jog Road (upper left corner of the map, below).

The accident happened at the intersection of Military Trail and Potomac at the southeast corner of Lynn University.

Intersection of Miltary Trail and Potomac; Image and map data from Google Maps.

According to an accident report from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office, Sgt. Doug Immler of Boca PD was on duty, traveling southbound in an unmarked Chevy Traverse. Lasorda was traveling northbound on Military and turned left toward Potomac, causing the collision. The two vehicles then came into contact with a third vehicle that was stopped on Potomac. Sgt. Immler sustained minor injuries and the other driver was unhurt.

Joe “Smokey” Lasorda’s profile picture from Facebook.

The media relations staff from PBSO and Boca PD have both been responsive to our inquiries. The accident occurred inside the city and it seems wise for Boca PD to have called in PBSO to conduct the investigation. The PBSO Vehicle Homicide Unit determined that Sgt. Immler had a steady green light and was not at fault in the accident. They are working on an accident reconstruction and we know from experience that takes time.

Sgt. Immler’s father is Mark Immler, former chief of Boynton Beach PD and currently employed as an attorney for Boca PD. Sgt. Immler’s brother Zachary Immler was a police officer in West Palm Beach who made the news in the wrong way recently for stealing money during a narcotics investigation.

Sgt. Immler, right, with city council member Robert Weinroth

42 Violations at Kanpai: RatOn Restaurants

Kanpai restaurant in Boca Raton

East Boca’s Kanpai leads off this week’s restaurant inspection report with a whopping 42 violations. If there’s a bright side, only 2 of the violations were marked high priority.

  • Employee touched soiled surface and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils, or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. – cooked using cellphone and texting while at the same time preparing food on cook line.
  • Server handled soiled dishes or utensils and then picked up plated food, served food, or prepared a beverage without washing hands. – server scrapping plates and preparing leftovers-for-take Home, and returning to food service, all with out handwashing

Kanpai had 25 violations back in April.

That was the only truly big number in the report. No other restaurant got more than 20 violations. Notables with 15 or more violations include Nick’s New Haven Pizza near Town Center (17 violations, 4 high priority); Einstein Bagel on Powerline (16, 2); and Dominic’s near Home Depot (15, 2).

Good News

On the real bright side, Shake Shack on Glades near FAU had a perfect inspection.

In Mission Bay both Domino’s Pizza and Tijuana Flats were near perfect with 1 minor violation each. There were several others with just one violation including Tanzy, iPic Theater and Rack’s in Mizner Park, Trattoria Romana on Palmetto and Flakowitz on Federal Highway.

We consider two violations to be very good and there were several of those as well:

  • Rancheritos de Boca in Somerset Shoppes
  • Fit Foodz Cafe on Clint Moore near 441
  • Toojays and Manhattan Joe’s Pizza in Polo Club Shoppes
  • Toojays near Town Center
  • Chick Fil A in Town Center
  • Cinemark Theater

Shen’s Peking at Glades and Lyons had 3 violations, 1 high priority.

Way Beyond Bagels on Clint Moore at 441 had 4 violations.

Bruce’s of Great Neck in Boca Greens had 6 violations.

Pho Boca on Glades and Boon’s in Boca Greens had 7 violations each.

And the not-so-great 10 and up club this week counts some of our favorite places: Chow Thai and Thick and Thin Pizza from Sandalfoot Square; Stella’s Pizza in Boca Greens; and Ben’s Deli on 441 at Clint Moore.

As usual our full spreadsheet is below.

allinsp-8-26-2018

PDF

RatOn Restaurants: Ruvens and Rural Restaurant Violations

Ruvens in Delray; image by Google.

Inspectors hit Ruvens hard in their latest inspection report. The deli restaurant on Jog Road in Delray was reported as having 31 violations including 10 marked high priority. The worst of it was a sweet cream cheese sauce with “mold-like growth” that appeared to be six weeks old.

  • Food with mold-like growth in sweet cream cheese sauce in walk in cooler. Prep date 6/25/18. See stop sale.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit……tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, roast beef , beef brisket, white fish salad all at temperature between 46°-51° in display case at front line. Per operator food being held less than four hours. Employee moved food to walk in cooler at time of food …..butter 65°, cream cheese 61° in reach in cooler at kitchen. Operator not aware how long Food being out of temperature ( other food 37°-38° in same cooler) . Operator discarded food at time of inspection. **Corrective Action Taken**
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cooked/heated yesterday/on a previous day not cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 41 degrees Fahrenheit within a total of 6 hours. Food has been cooling overnight. ……chicken goulash 51° in a dipper than 4 inches container with covered in walk in cooler. Per chef it is yesterday left over food from hot holding . See stop sale.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food hot held at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above….cabbage soup top part 99° to 102° when cook stair it was 166° . Advised cook stair food often. **Corrective Action Taken**
  • Raw animal food not properly separated from ready-to-eat food…..raw burger next to over storing bread in tall reach in cooler at kitchen. PIC properly stored it at time of inspection. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food marked with a date that exceeds 7 days after opening/preparation….cream cheese sauce mold growth in it ,prep date was 6/25/18. Employee discarded food at time of inspection. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Single-use gloves not changed as needed after changing tasks or when damaged or soiled….employee touched Dishmachine and then grabbed bread without changing gloves and wash hands. Discussed with employee, employee changed gloves and washing hands at time of inspection. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Stop Sale issued due to food not being in a wholesome, sound condition….mold growth in cream cheese sauce
  • Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse…. chicken goulash 51° in a dipper than 4 inches container with covered in walk in cooler. Per chef it is yesterday left over food from hot holding
  • Wiping cloth sanitizer solution exceeds the maximum concentration allowed….over ++200 ppm. Operator corrected it at 200 ppm at time of inspection. **Corrected On-Site**

Another bad inspection report was for La Rural, a relatively new Argentinian steakhouse on 441 in Parkland, north of Hillsboro. They had 21 violations including 7 high priority. They found a dish of pears that had been cooked over three weeks earlier.

  • In-use utensil stored in unclean water at or above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Water was at 122F, employee moved water to reheat. **Corrective Action Taken**
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 18 lbs. Sausage 46-59F held since 8/7/2018 in reach in cooler flip top at end of cookline with ambient temperature of 66 F. See stop sale.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food hot held at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Rice held at 58F on steam table, per chef just turned off to clean. Steam table is located opposite of stove. Operator reheated rice to 178F **Corrected On-Site**
  • Raw animal food stored over or with ready-to-eat food in reach-in freezer – not all products commercially packaged. Raw beef ribs on top of cooked ham in reach in freezer by dry storage. Operator moved cooked ham to top shelf. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food marked with a date that exceeds 7 days after opening/preparation. 3 lbs Cooked pears in walk-in cooler cooked on 7/16.
  • Stop Sale issued due to food not being in a wholesome, sound condition. Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food marked with a date that exceeds 7 days after opening/preparation. 3 lbs Cooked pears in walk-in cooler cooked on 7/16. **Warning**
  • Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 18 lbs. Sausage 46-59F held since 7/7/2018 in reach in cooler flip top at end of cookline with ambient temperature of 66 F.

Two other restaurants had 20 or more violations: Dean Anthony’s Express Pizza on Yamato east of Military Trail (24 violations, 3 high priority) and China Spring on 441 in West Boca, near the Sandalfoot Cumberland Farms (20, 2).

Just below that were some surprises including:

  • Burt & Max in Delray Marketplace (19 violations, 8 high priority)
  • La Pizzeria on Sample in Margate (18, 8)
  • Bonefish Macs on Sample in Coral Springs (18, 5)
  • Picanha Brazil on 441 near Sandalfoot (17, 2)
  • Long Island Bagel on 441 near Target (17, 4)
  • Orient House Express on SW 18th near Military (17, 4)
  • Smokey Bones on 441 near Target (16, 5)
  • Sweet Tomatoes on Beracasa (16, 5)
  • Packy’s in Loggers’ Run (15, 4)
  • Yakitori Sake House in Royal Palm Place (15, 3)

Good News

Five restaurants had perfect inspections. In West Boca it was the Wendy’s on Glades near Lyons Road. Also notable was La Tre Vietnamese on East Palmetto Park Road and Sapori in Royal Palm Place.

Near-perfect inspections (1 violation) were reported for the First Watch in Mission Bay and two Chipotles in West Boca – the one at Glades and 441, and the one on Military Trail near the Office Depot HQ. Vinny’s All Day Cafe in the Woodfield plaza also had only one violation.

Zinger’s Deli and Einstein Bagles, both in Shadowood, had only two violations each.

Three violations each were reported for Miller’s Ale House on Glades near Lyons, LaSpadas Hoagies near Town Center, Brendy’s Ice Cream near Doris Market, and Bolay in Polo Club Shoppes.

As usual our full spreadsheet for this report is below:

allinsp-8-12-2018

PDF

Dave Aronberg’s Office Mishandles Insanity Defense

Tilus Lebrun mugshot from PBSO

The State Attorney’s office for Palm Beach County, run by Dave Aronberg, botched the murder prosecution of Tilus Lebrun, who killed West Boca’s Jimmy Karaloukas at the victim’s Jimmy the Greek restaurant.

Lebrun was just found not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday on all charges including subsequent incidents of felony battery on law enforcement officers.

The insanity defense is governed by Florida Statute 775.027

Insanity is established when:
(a) The defendant had a mental infirmity, disease, or defect; and
(b) Because of this condition, the defendant:
1. Did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences; or
2. Although the defendant knew what he or she was doing and its consequences, the defendant did not know that what he or she was doing was wrong.
Mental infirmity, disease, or defect does not constitute a defense of insanity except as provided in this subsection.

(2) BURDEN OF PROOF.—The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by clear and convincing evidence.

West Boca News obtained a copy of the psychologist’s report that was prepared for the prosecution. The report starts off with the question asked by the prosecution:

“Whether Mr. Lebrun was legally sane at the time of the offense.”

If you read the statute, that is not the correct question. It is overly simplistic. The psychologist should have been asked to address the language of the statute.

It seems clear that the psychologist would have answered yes to part (a) of the statute – that Lebrun had a mental disease. But the bigger issues are in part (b). Did Lebrun know what he was doing? If so, did he know that what he was doing was wrong?

Those two questions are not addressed in the prosecution psychologist’s report. But the evidence shows Lebrun knew what he was doing. The probable cause affidavit reflects a statement he made right after he was arrested:

The unanswered question is whether Lebrun knew that what he was doing was wrong. For that we know under Florida law that it was his burden (or his lawyer’s) to prove that by clear and convincing evidence. This is a high standard to meet for the defense.

There’s a recent example of this in a case out of Orlando, Rodriguez v. State. In that case Rodriguez had the same diagnosis as Lebrun (paranoid schizophrenia) and the insanity defense was similarly based on hallucinations and delusions. The jury found Rodriguez guilty* even though seven defense expert witnesses testified he was insane and the prosecution did not offer an expert witness.

The appeals court noted in Rodriguez that:

the jurors were free to consider Rodriguez’s hallucinations and delusions as evidence of whether he suffered from a mental infirmity, disease, or defect, [but] they were only permitted to consider whether this condition caused Rodriguez at the time of the offenses to not know what he was doing or the consequences of his actions, or whether he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

Due to blunders by Aronberg’s office the victims and their families were deprived of a fair hearing on this important issue. An Orlando jury faced with similar facts denied the insanity defense. Lebrun’s insanity defense should have been determined by a Palm Beach County jury.

*Although the Rodriguez case was reversed on appeal (on a technical legal issue related to jury instructions), Rodriguez pled guilty before the second trial. He was sentenced to 30 years and later committed suicide in prison.

Frederick of Hollywood Arrested

Devaris Frederick of Hollywood FL. This photo is from the FDLE offender database.

A wild incident took place on Saturday at the Sandalfoot Publix here in West Boca Raton. Devaris Frederick of Hollywood Florida allegedly stole a woman’s purse while in the line waiting to pay the cashier. He ran out of the store and into a waiting U-Haul van. Comically as the van drove off, witnesses say Frederick fell out of the back door of the van.

Narrative from the PBSO probable cause affidavit. We redacted the victim’s name.

Witnesses then chased Frederick, tackled him, and held him down until deputies from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office arrived. Deputies also found a crack pipe in Frederick’s possession, but no lingerie.

FDLE records indicate Frederick has a substantial criminal history including two lengthy stays in some of the finest all-inclusive resorts the State of Florida has to offer.

Broward County court records reveal Frederick had just been released from jail on a pending felony grand theft charge with an electronic monitoring agreement that means he should have had a GPS device on his ankle. It was not mentioned in the probable cause affidavit. He may be returning to a state prison in the near future.

Broward County mugshot of Devaris Frederick

We are hoping to get video from this incident, either from PBSO or possibly from locals who were reportedly recording on scene.

RatOn Restaurants: Boca Buffet Blunders and more

Trying out a new name for our restaurant inspection reports, the restaurant inspectors rat them out. So they rat on them. Rat on … Raton … Not sure this works but giving it a shot.

The biggest number for this week goes to Ichiyami Buffet in Royal Palm Place. Inspectors reported 28 violations. This is not the first time Ichiyami has had a high number. On the bright side there was only one high priority violation:

Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. KITCHEN – three Cases of Aqua-cultered Salmon 48F Sitting on floor at end of hot cook line. Th heads of fish were in some crushed ice.. The bodies and tails were in cool water and no ice. – Moved to walk in cooler **Corrective Action Taken**

Eight restaurants had twenty or more violations reported. In West Boca they included:

  • Perrada Del Gordo on 441 (26 violations, 3 high priority)
  • Saiko-I Sushi Lounge on SW 18th (24, 3)
  • Pita N Go on 441 (22, 3)
  • Bagel City South on SW 18th (20, 3)

In East Boca Basilic Vietnamese had 24 violations with 3 high priority.

The worst inspection was Pizza Carousel in Coral Springs with 24 violations including 6 marked high priority and a stop sale:

  • Employee handled soiled dishes or utensils and then handled clean dishes or utensils without washing hands. Employee washing dishes. Cook- dropped utensil on floor, sauce splattered on floor, he cleaned the floor with a cloth- no handwash. **Repeat Violation**
  • Hot potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food received at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked meatballs and sauce at 126F, hot hold for 1 hour, advised manager to reheat to 165F.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 24 qts. of cooked marinara sauce as per manager cooling for 2 days in WIC (58°F – Cooling) See Stop Sale
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cooked/heated yesterday/on a previous day not cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 41 degrees Fahrenheit within a total of 6 hours. Food has been cooling overnight. Covered and too deep. 24 qts. of cooked marinara sauce as per manager cooling for 2 days in WIC (58°F – Cooling) See stop sale.
  • Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food not consumed/sold within 7 days after opening/preparation. 4 lbs. of cooked chicken breast dated 7-10-18 in RIC as per manager was cooked 2 weeks ago. See stop sale.
  • Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. 24 qts. of cooked marinara sauce as per manager cooling for 2 days in WIC (58°F – Cooling) See Stop Sale

There was one more with over 20 violations – Beijing Palace on Jog Road in Delray had 21 with 3 high priority.

Other big numbers for notables in and near West Boca were:

  • Brooklyn Water Bagel on Powerline at Palmetto (19 violations, 3 high priority)
  • All Ribs Costelaria on Powerline near Boca Grove (17, 3)
  • Japango in Delray Marketplace (16, 6) (“Stop Sale issued due to food not being in a wholesome, sound condition….sushi rice at room temperature being held more than four hours.”)
  • Asia on Powerline at Camino Real (16, 3)
  • Shanghai City Chinese off Glades near the Turnpike (15, 1)
  • Way Beyond Bagels on Jog in Delray (15, 3)
  • Casimir Bistro in Royal Palm (15, 3)
  • Boca Bagelworks on Glades near Boca Rio (13, 4)
  • Sicilian Oven on St. Andrews (13, 4)
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs in the same plaza (13, 1)
  • Pollo Tropical in that plaza (12, 2)
  • Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza at Boca Grove (13, 2)
  • Casa Tequila Mexican on Glades near Boca Rio (11, 1)
  • Brickyard Microbrewery on Palmetto near Powerline (10, 2)
  • China Cafe in Loggers’ Run (10, 0)
  • Mozzarita Bar on Clint Moore in The Reserve (10, 1)

Good News

This week’s winners with perfect inspections were LuBlu Bakery & Cafe in Somerset Shoppes, Marlee’s Bistro & Cupcakery on Glades near Boca Rio, Five Guys Burgers near Town Center, and Dunkin Donuts in the Woodfield plaza.

Lucille’s BBQ in Woodfield was near perfect with just one violation, as was Brendy’s in Polo Club Shoppes.

Other Notables

Other inspections worth mentioning:

  • McDonald’s at Clint Moore & Jog (2, 0)
  • Papa John’s Pizza on Glades near Boca Rio (2, 0)
  • Miller’s Ale House on Yamato at Broken Sound (2, 0)
  • Burger King on Glades near Boca Rio (2, 0)
  • New York Grilled Cheese on Federal Highway across from Mizner Park (3, 0)
  • Rotelli’s Pizza in West Boca Square (3, 1)
  • Panera on Military Trail near Town Center (3, 3)
  • Sushigo on Federal Highway (4, 0)
  • Original Pancake House on Glades in Somerset Shoppes (4, 1)
  • BurgerFi on SW 18th near Powerline (5, 1)
  • Cream in Westwinds near Home Depot (7, 1)
  • Hooters near Town Center (7, 2)
  • Burgerim in Mission Bay (8, 0)
  • Chili’s on 441 at Palmetto (8, 1)
  • Jimmy the Greek on Glades (9, 3)
  • Yard House in Mizner Park (9, 1)
  • Villa Rosano on Clint Moore (9, 1)

As usual our spreadsheet from this report is attached:

allinsp-7-28-2018

PDF

West Delray Robbery and Arrest

A Boynton Beach couple displays an amazing Before and After look. Left image from Facebook; right image from PBSO.

A crime drama unfolded right on the edge of West Boca. Almost as interesting as the crime is the story of their dramatic change of appearance over the past year. The photo above left was taken in early 2017. The photo on the right is from their recent mugshots.

Details from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) indicate:

On June 26, 2018, the HUSBAND/WIFE team, suspects; Brandon Froum, and Mirabehn Froum, were inside 7-Eleven when they attempted to steal/conceal items and flee, when confronted by the clerk, Mirabehn sprayed a chemical spray in the clerks face. After a brief struggle the suspects fled in a Toyota 4Runner.

Both suspects were apprehended during a traffic stop in unincorporated Delray Beach on Thursday, July 19, 2018. This husband and wife team are now currently residing in the PBC Jail.

PBSO released photos from inside the robbery scene:

Images from PBSO, supplied by store security system.

The Mobil Gas Station is located in the 13500 block of S. Military Trail, Delray Beach, a few miles north of the Boca-Delray line. The arrest was reported to be in “unincorporated” Delray, which is generally what we call West Delray, again just north of us.

As usual there’s more to the story. Mrs. Froum has had two misdemeanor cases this year, retail theft in January, and possession of narcotics equipment in March, both resolved in May with guilty pleas. Mr. Broum had a felony arrest in March which is still pending in the courts. In that case he’s accused of “aggravated battery”, and the probable cause affidavit indicates Mrs. Froum was involved. Part of that affidavit is below, and even the police officer notes Mr. Froum’s change in appearance:

Froum allegedly stabbed the victim in the arm with a large kitchen knife. His bond in that case had been set to $50,000 ($25K each on two counts) and he was bailed out on April 9th. The aggravated assault count was dropped but the aggravated battery remains pending. His bond was revoked as a result of the new arrest. Mrs. Froum’s bond on the new charges is set at $100,000 on each of two counts – Felony Petit Theft and Felony Battery.

We don’t know how their criminal case will work out but they may have potential for a reality TV show about weight loss and makeovers.

It should be noted that the appearance of the two individuals is so dramatically different that we can’t rule out the possibility this is some kind of identity theft or fraud. We think they’re the same people, but we’re not sure.