12/04/14 State Roundup
Long prison sentences were handed down Thursday for three principals in a North Carolina real estate fraud case, including two from the Tampa Bay area.
Miami developer Domenic Rabuffo, 78, recruited straw buyers in several Florida cities. The buyers had hoped to profit from lending their names and credit ratings for fraudulent mortgage transactions that netted the developer more than $50 million....
Florida developer Domenic Rabuffo was sentenced Tuesday to more than 27 years in federal prison for a North Carolina mortgage fraud scheme that bilked four major banks out of more than $50 million in loans made to dozens of Floridians who posed as straw buyers.
The Miami man, now 78, is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
After being jailed without bail following his indictment in January, Rabuffo has been hospitalized several times and had carotid surgery to restore the flow of blood to his brain. His lawyers say he also has diabetes and a degenerative spinal disc problem that has him in a wheelchair....
You might think our elected officials could learn from their mistakes.
But time and time again they display a brand of stupidity — and arrogance — that seems to haunt the state capital.
When I went to Tallahassee at the end of 1985 to cover the governor and Legislature, it wasn't long before I began to notice the splendid treatment legislators and some governors got from lobbyists, especially the lobbyists who worked for the state's major corporate interests. ...
07/03/14 State Roundup
Four Florida residents were convicted Thursday in federal court in Miami of a complex $50 million mortgage fraud involving dozens of other Floridians who agreed to become paid "straw buyers'' of land in the North Carolina mountains.
Domenic Rabuffo, 77, of Miami, his former wife, Mae Rabuffo, 75, of Fort Lauderdale, Ray Olivier, 52, of Land O'Lakes and Curtis Allen Davis, 51, owner of Executive Mortgage & Investments in Tampa, were immediately ordered to jail by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore before sentencing Sept. 18. ...
Federal prosecutors say Domenic Rabuffo, the 77-year-old Miami developer of a controversial North Carolina development, poses a danger to the community and should remain behind bars until trial on multiple charges of bank fraud.
Rabuffo and six other Florida residents were arrested last week for allegedly scamming banks out of almost $50 million in mortgage money. Each faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine. ...
01/10/14 State Roundup
Seven Florida residents have been arrested on multiple charges in a $49.6 million mortgage fraud scheme involving a remote mountain development near Cashiers, N.C.
Among those accused of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud and multiple bank fraud offenses are Domenic Rabuffo, 77, of Miami and his former wife, Mae Rabuffo, 74, of Fort Lauderdale; Raymond E. Olivier, 52, of Land O'Lakes; and Curtis Allen Davis, 51, of Tampa. They are accused in a federal indictment with three others of using shell companies and straw buyers to purchase lots in a development called Hampton Springs. Each faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine....
For almost 30 years John M. "Mac'' Stipanovich has worked at the top of Florida's political world, running a successful campaign for governor, serving as chief of staff for Gov. Bob Martinez and as a lawyer and lobbyist for some of the state's best-known businesses.
Always quotable, Stipanovich was dubbed "Mac the Quote'' early on. Who knew he could write?
Now at 64 years, Stipanovich is having the time of his life on Facebook, the social networking site better known to people half his age....
Sometimes it seems like we are teachers, trying to inject just a little bit of knowledge into recalcitrant children.
Year after year, legislators are blistered for taking things from lobbyists who want something from them. Year after year, we write about it.
Sometimes lawmakers vote to change the rules as though they are saying, "Stop me before I sin again.''
It doesn't work.
Now we have a group of lawmakers routinely riding around the state on airplanes owned by a lobbyist who represents a gambling interest. ...
Could Florida be missing out on millions of dollars in revenue?
Pensacola trial lawyer Robert Kerrigan says state and local officials have long ignored a law that requires bond agents and surety companies to lose their licenses when they fail to pay up after defendants skip town....
TALLAHASSEE — Could Florida be missing out on millions of dollars in revenue?
Pensacola trial lawyer Robert Kerrigan says state and local officials have long ignored a law that requires bond agents and surety companies to lose their licenses when they fail to pay up after defendants skip town.
As a result, the state's court system has failed to collect judgments totaling millions of dollars, Kerrigan contends. He represents a Pensacola bondsman who claims the failure of clerks and courts to uphold the law damages competitors who comply with it....
Editor's note: Like House Speaker Will Weatherford, Lucy Morgan got her start in Pasco County. She was a Tampa Bay Times reporter in Pasco from 1968 until December 1985, when she was appointed capital bureau chief in Tallahassee. She retired from that post in 2006 and has since worked part time handling special projects. She shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting with Jack Reed for stories about the Pasco County Sheriff's Department. She retired again Friday after penning this open letter of advice for the new speaker....
TALLAHASSEE — Former Gov. Charlie Crist calls him "a great patriot.''
Congressional investigators call him "a war profiteer" who walked away with an extra $200 million while providing fuel to American troops in Iraq.
At Florida State University, he is something of a hero — contributing more than a million dollars to athletic programs, the business school and his old fraternity....
Think about what might have been.
In October 2006 it looked as if House Speaker Allan Bense would become the next chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
Bense was completing a scandal-free run as the leader of the House and insisting he had no plan to run for another political office. He was ready to go home to Panama City and return to his private business despite some heavy pushing from lots of Republicans who wanted him to run for the U.S. Senate....
Funeral services for longtime lobbyist Ralph Glatfelter will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Bradfordville Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
Glatfelter, 65 died Sunday, Feb. 17 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. For 35 years he worked on health care issues, primarily for the Florida Hospital Association.
A native of Zellwood and a graduate of the University of Florida, Glatfelter was active in student government and after college went to work for Attorney General Bob Shevin in his legislative affairs office....
TALLAHASSEE — For three years, former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer denied doing anything wrong and promised a trial that would embarrass a lot of people. So why did he plead guilty to five felonies Monday, facing the certainty of spending years in prison?
And who paid Hank Coxe, a widely respected criminal defense lawyer from Jacksonville who parachuted in at the last minute and quietly negotiated the plea that brought the long-running soap opera to a close? Coxe was in the courtroom when Greer pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges but did not speak and did not formally file a notice of appearance with the court....