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By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Nancy Watkins

Nancy Watkins

A new political attack ad committee was launched in Fort Lauderdale last week, but who is behind it and why is largely a mystery.

The group operates under the name The Committee for Ethics in Government. Its address is a mail drop at a downtown UPS store. Messages left on its voicemail draw no response. And federal and state records identify the committee chairwoman as a 21-year-old political unknown who shares an address with her parents in Davie.

Federal and state records do reveal the committee was established by Republican campaign accounting guru Nancy Watkins of Tampa.

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.orgmemorialhealthcare

The Justice Department is investigating whistleblower allegations that the South Broward Hospital District conspired with Tampa’s Wellcare Health Plans to bilk Medicaid and Florida’s Healthy Kids program.

The district, the legal name of Hollywood’s Memorial Healthcare System, is specifically accused of helping Wellcare doctor its accounting books so it could avoid paying back excess profits owed to Florida and the federal government.

“We have never been named in the suit (as a defendant), nor have we received any subpoena,” said Memorial spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin. She declined to discuss the matter further.

Jerry Frank Townsend

Jerry Frank Townsend

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Confessing to a murder or rape you did not commit is unthinkable.

But as DNA testing continues to exonerate convicted murderers and rapists, new research shows that nearly 20 percent of those innocent inmates falsely confessed to the crimes that sent them to prison.

More than 250 convicts nationwide have been cleared by DNA testing. University of Virginia law school Professor Brandon L. Garrett’s study found that more than 40 of them confessed falsely, and seeks to explain why.

How this happens is a question that haunts the state of Florida.

Gregory Stuart

Gregory Stuart

Bertha Henry

Bertha Henry

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Hardly anyone noticed last month when Independence Day arrived for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Broward’s powerful but obscure transportation agency.

No politicians made speeches; no one marched in a parade. But it turns out that there were plenty of fireworks behind the scenes at the agency that largely decides what county roads get built or improved.

As the MPO was breaking away last spring, county employees filed a pair of whistleblower complaints accusing top MPO officials of mismanagement, unprofessionalism and cronyism.

UPDATE:  Sept. 14 —
 
A federal jury on Long Island today found former Broward body armor tycoon David H. Brooks guilty of looting his former company, Point Blank Solutions, and defrauding its shareholders. 
Brooks was convicted on all 17 counts of conspiracy and fraud in the $200 million corporate theft. Sandra Hatfield, Point Blank’s former chief operating officer, was convicted of 14 related criminal counts.
The trial began in January. The jury deliberated two weeks.
Brooks’ attorney, Kenneth Ravenell of Baltimore, Md., said Tuesday evening that he would not comment on the verdict.
Ravenell said, however, that the jury still has work to do deciding how much Brooks must forfeit to the government.
“It’s not over yet,” he said.
[Please scroll down to read Broward Bulldog’s July 8 story about the trial]
 
David H. Brooks

David H. Brooks

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

The embattled founder of financially-hobbled Pompano Beach body armor maker Point Bank Solutions refers to himself on his foundation’s website as a “Living Lifesaving Legend.”

But federal prosecutors say former Broward mogul David H. Brooks is a world-class crook responsible for an audacious $200 million corporate theft.

Brooks, forced out as CEO a year before his 2007 arrest, has been on trial for nearly six months in Central Islip, N.Y. on federal fraud and conspiracy charges. A writer for Vanity Fair has called it “the year’s most entertaining trial you’ve probably never heard of.”

The grand jury’s 61-page indictment describes a corporate chieftain gone wild. It boils down to this: Brooks looted his publicly traded company and burned through its cash like it was Monopoly money.

Point Blank, once known as DHB Industries, is a leading manufacturer of “bullet, fragmentation and stab resistant apparel and related ballistic accessories.” Its products are used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as federal and state agents and local police.

In the middle of the trial, Point Blank filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware claiming assets of $64 million and debts of $68.5 million. The company blamed the filing on tight credit and “legal issues from former management” that it said were costing it $600,000 a month in legal fees.

Point Blank, which once employed about 1,500 people, had 920 employees at the end of last year. Its stock, which once traded as high as $20 on the American Stock Exchange, now sells for 25 cents on the pink sheets. You can see Point Blank’s website here.