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Photo by Melanie Bell

Photo by Melanie Bell

By Dan Christensen, browardbulldog.org

When Broward Circuit Judge Victor Tobin was elected chief judge two years ago he vowed to heal a deeply divided courthouse and restore public faith in Broward’s judiciary.

But Tobin’s recent decision to transfer two rival veteran judges to divisions they did not request, and have told supporters they do not want, is fueling fresh resentment and reopening old wounds at the courthouse.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Daryl TrawickBy Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

A Miami-Dade judge who President Obama is considering to be South Florida’s next U.S. Attorney once falsified official court records in apparent violation of state law.

Judge Daryl Trawick, right, instructed the clerk’s office to alter the public court docket in 2002 at the request of state prosecutors seeking to protect a drug informant. A secret docket was kept so Trawick could keep track of what was actually happening.

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Sworn testimony in the Broward insider stock-trading case against a top Republican fundraiser is shedding new light on the alleged fraud and how political access is bought and sold.

Fort Lauderdale heart doctor Zachariah P. Zachariah and two other physicians, including his brother, are accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of using nonpublic information to make more than a half-million dollars in illegal profits from stock trades in 2005.

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Next week’s federal insider trading trial of a major Broward GOP fundraiser with close ties to former President George W. Bush has been called off while a possible settlement deal is worked out.

Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah, his physician brother and a third Fort Lauderdale doctor are accused of hauling down more than a half-million dollars in illegal profits during a fraudulent stock trading scheme in 2005.

A trial on the civil charges that was set for Nov. 9 was cancelled to allow time for the Securities and Exchange Commission to decide whether to accept signed offers of settlement from co-defendants Dr. Mammen P. Zachariah and Dr. Sheldon Nassberg, according to court records. 

Jerry Frank Townsend

Jerry Frank Townsend

To seek the just determination of all criminal matters that are presented to the State Attorney” – from the web site of Broward State Attorney Michael Satz

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Once upon a time Jerry Frank Townsend was South Florida’s deadliest serial killer and rapist.

Broward Sheriff’s Office and Miami Police Department homicide detectives said it was so. Townsend, a grown man with the mental capacity of a child, confessed to nearly two dozen sex murders, they said.

Convicted of six brutal murders and a rape in 1980, Townsend was sent to prison for life. He remained behind bars for 22 years, until he was exonerated by DNA tests that didn’t exist when he was arrested.

The police frame-up of Townsend continues to haunt both BSO and county taxpayers. The Sun-Sentinel reported last month that BSO has agreed to pay $2 million over the next five years to settle a Broward civil rights lawsuit brought on Townsend’s behalf. Miami paid $2.2 million last year to end a similar Townsend suit filed in federal court. The public spent at least $1 million more on defense lawyers for the officers who were involved.

Broward State Attorney Michael Satz, once quick to prosecute Townsend on scant evidence, moved to set aside Townsend’s convictions after the DNA tests cleared him, but conducted no criminal investigation of the police whose testimony put Townsend in prison. Satz spokesman Ron Ishoy said Wednesday that prosecutors reviewed “the entire Townsend case even before the DNA testing” but “did not uncover any evidence to suggest” a frame-up.

Had an actual investigation been made, however, Satz would have found a disturbing record replete with clear and convincing evidence of specific crimes by BSO detectives and other officers, including perjury and the falsification of police reports.