Thursday, March 4, 2010

Michelle Spence-Jones re indicted and Katherine Fernandez Rundle chimes in on "SURRENDER"

Bad news for Michelle Spence-Jones and her supporters, she was indicted yesterday by a grand jury on charges of bribery which essentially kills her chances of being reinstated to her seat as a commissioner.  The grand jury also indicted Spence-Jones with grand theft, the same charges that were pressed against her last year, essentially closing up a loophole (IMO) that would have allowed her to regain her seat on the commission.  As I understand it, as long as Spence-Jones was charged by information rather than by indictment, she would have been allowed to regain her seat until she was convicted.  Francisco Alvarado of the Miami New Times broke the story here. 
Suspended Miami city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is facing more criminal charges. A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted Spence-Jones on one count of bribery.

She is accused of soliciting money from MDM Hotel Group, Inc., the developers of the Metropolitan Miami office and residential complex, and the Codina Group Inc., for her vote to extend the name of Brickell Avenue further north along SE Second Avenue.

According to a press release from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez-Rundle, after a contentious March 23, 2006 city commission meeting wherein the name extension was deferred to the next commission meeting for a final vote, Spence-Jones demanded $25,000 and "ultimately deposited those funds into an account accessible to Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones."

The grand jury also formally charged Spence-Jones with grand theft, for which she had been previously charged via information on November 13, 2009.
What we found most interesting though was the coverage from WSVN where State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle is quoted as saying:
"She's going to be offered an opportunity, like everyone else, to surrender. Her lawyer has been contacted by our office to see if they want to make that surrender,"
Of course she's going to be allowed to surrender, why wouldn't she?  After all, we all remember when Judge Beatrice Butchko scolded ASA Scruggs on the way the Pastor Gaston Smith arrests went down and then gave her opinion on surrenders and white collar crimes don't we?  In case you've forgotten, here it is again...
"It is clear that law enforcement has the absolute right upon probable cause to make the arrest, whatever arrest they feel warranted, but it does not fair well with the defense, when they are having communications that leave rise to a possible delay, a chance to further negotiate, or at least a surrender of the client, that without advanced warning, the client is arrested on the streets, when it's common knowledge in white collar cases that these clients surrender, so that, not professional, lawful, yes, not professional, and you're dealing with a white collar offense.

I have heard no evidence of flight risk, of danger to the community in terms of violence, and a man who is a pastor, who's respected by a lot of people in the community, maybe not the police in this case, not well done, and then he has to sit in the police car for a few hours because he wants to give keys to his wife, I think that could have been done in a more elegant fashion as well."
You all know by now how we feel about the subject of "surrender" when it comes to people that are charged with white collar crimes that ARE NOT FLIGHT RISKS.  So we ask again Assistant State Attorney Kostrzewski, why he did order the arrests of the defendants in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud to happen in such an undignified, unprofessional manner?  The simple practice of allowing people to surrender themselves, a courtesy that not only Judge Butchko deems a common practice in white collar crimes but now we have your BOSS who agrees, so WTF were you thinking?  

We know what Mr. Kostrzewski was thinking, these were the actions of a desperate man, a man who has no concept of dignity or professional conduct, we'll prove our point tomorrow.

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