By Brian Entin, WPTV
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Fifty nine child pornography charges have been dropped against a former Rosarian Academy teacher accused of sexual activity with two fourth-grade students.
Palm County State Attorney spokesman Mike Edmondson says their office dropped the charges against Stephen Budd because of “facts that arose during the investigation of the case.”
According to Budd’s defense attorney, West Palm Beach police violated Budd’s constitutional rights by doing an improper search of his car to find a hard drive.
Budd is not off the hook.
Two former students allege that Budd had engaged in sexual activity with them during the 2006-2007 school year.
Investigators say Budd rewarded his student victims with “Budd bucks” or candy in return for sexual acts.
He still faces sexual battery and molestation charges in that case.
By Marc Freeman, Sun Sentinel
Barry Nevins, 73, owner of Barry’s Vitamins & Herbs in Boca Raton, still faces a felony charge of unlicensed practice of health care profession, following his October 2011 arrest. Prosecutors say Nevins violated a deferred prosecution agreement by referring to himself as a doctor on a website late last year.
If you suffer from heart disease, depression, digestive disorders or other ailments, Barry Nevins sells products advertised to help you “be well.”
But the Boca Raton business owner is not a medical doctor, and he insists he stopped claiming to be one — as required by an agreement with state prosecutors last year to resolve a criminal charge from October 2011.
By Marc Freeman, Sun Sentinel
The attorney for a former West Palm Beach private school teacher accused of sexually assaulting two 9-year-old students argues there are grounds for a judge to stop a jury from seeing potentially incriminating computer evidence.
Stephen Jerome Budd, 52, was arrested in April for crimes that allegedly occurred while he taught a fourth-grade class at Rosarian Academy during the 2006-07 school year. He was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a person less than 12 years old, one count of lewd or lascivious molestation, and two counts of lewd or lascivious exhibition.
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By Daphne Duret – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A powerful Delray Beach developer once tasked with helping appoint local judges also has ties so close to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office that it is backing away from handling his prosecution for allegedly cheating a sandwich mogul out of more than $1 million.
Anthony Pugliese and his business manager, Joseph Reamer, are fighting charges of conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud, money laundering and grand theft.
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By Daphne Duret, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The hot topic among the morning coffee crowd of lawyers near the courthouse last week was the DUI manslaughter case of Wellington polo club founder John Goodman, now on trial for the February 2010 crash that killed Scott Wilson.
Local criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors and even civil litigators have been reading news stories and sneaking peeks at live streaming broadcasts on the high-profile case since testimony began Tuesday, watching with rapt attention between their own hearings and depositions.
The consensus among South Florida attorneys from the start was that Goodman’s legal team, led by famed Miami attorney Roy Black, walked into the case with serious problems.
Juries usually don’t like the mix of alcohol and driving, they say. And the manslaughter charge brings with it a life cut tragically short, in this case a bright 23-year-old engineering grad on his way home to his mother.
Now, with the prosecution case virtually over and two days of defense testimony expected this week when court resumes Monday morning, defense attorneys describe the case against Goodman as challenging, but not entirely unbeatable.
“A DUI case is more subjective than, say, a murder or a bank robbery, where you can have video evidence or eyewitnesses to definitively say the person committed a crime,” said Ron Herman, a former prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney. “DUI is different because to some degree it involves opinion – how the person was acting or how they handle themselves.”
In this case, Herman and others say, prosecutors Ellen Roberts and Sherri Collins had the benefit of forensic evidence in the form of Goodman’s blood, drawn three hours after the crash.
The blood test revealed that Goodman had a blood-alcohol level of 0.177 percent, more than twice the level a person is legally presumed too drunk to drive, and traces of hydrocodone from a prescribed dose of Vicodin he’d been taking for back pain.
Goodman’s defense has said that result did not come from heavy drinking before the crash, but rather from drinking afterward at a friend’s barn to soothe the pain of his injuries.
Fort Lauderdale defense attorney David Bogenschutz, who two years ago represented former New York Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz when a jury returned a lesser verdict of simple DUI against him in a DUI manslaughter case, argued the same theory.
But in that case, Bogenschutz said, he had witnesses who could testify that they saw his client drinking after the crash. No similar evidence has been offered in Goodman’s case.
Bogenschutz said that in a case like this, the International Polo Club founder’s vast fortune could work against him with jurors. The fact that Goodman’s $200,000 Bentley collided with and crushed a Hyundai Sonata is a tough circumstance, even for a skilled defense attorney such as Black, he said.
“If you have a client that’s that high-profile, unfortunately you’re in significantly worse shape than if you’re representing someone who is a middle-class, working person,” Bogenschutz said.
Difficult, the attorneys say, but possible.
Before the start of the trial, local defense attorneys warned that the only way prosecutors could get into trouble with the strong case they appeared to have would be to overplay it.
Lawyers, they said, are taught never to ask one question too many – the extra question that could bring a response that makes trouble for your case.
If prosecutors ran afoul of that last week, defense attorney Jack Goldberger and other defense attorneys said, it was during the testimony of forensic toxicologist Tate Yeatman, who used Goodman’s blood-alcohol level to estimate the number of drinks he’d had before the crash.
Yeatman made the calculation using the standard assumption that people metabolize one drink, or 1 ounce of alcohol, every hour. He calculated that Goodman probably had 16 to 18 drinks over the course of the night and had at least 13 ounces of alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
Defense attorneys say the standard for metabolizing drinks is fine for experts making general statements, but Yeatman’s application of that standard to Goodman specifically leaves room for his defense team to argue that Yeatman’s numbers are off.
“If I’m Roy Black, I’m making as much of that as I can in closing arguments,” Goldberger said. Roberts “should have just stuck to saying, ‘This was his blood-alcohol level’ and left it at that.”
With all the talk about the case circulating in the courthouse, one attorney who has little to say publicly is Michael Salnick. He litigated the last case that brought national media attention to Palm Beach County, the murder-for-hire case of Boynton Beach newlywed Dalia Dippolito, who was convicted and is appealing her 20-year sentence.
Salnick said he remembers coming home at night from the trial, only to read or hear fellow attorneys recap his hits and misses.
So when local and national media outlets called him last week and asked for his thoughts on the Goodman case, he said he kept his comments as broad as he could.
“Unless you’re in there doing it, anyone can say anything,” he said.
Defense attorney Gregg Lerman, who has commented on the Goodman case, said he finds himself repeating at some point during each interview the same phrase: “You never know what a jury’s going to do.
“I’ve won some cases I thought I’d lost for sure, and I’ve lost some cases I should have won,” he said. “It’s impossible to ever know for sure.”
Written by Maddy Sauer of ABC News
Though he’s only been charged with solicitation of a prostitute, New York financier Jeffrey Epstein has a dream team of lawyers working on his behalf. A lengthy police probe was conducted in Palm Beach to investigate allegations that Epstein paid young and underage girls to massage him and have sex or engage in sexual activity with him. Police had wanted to arrest him on four counts of illegal sexual activity with minors. While that investigation was ongoing, Epstein’s lawyers were already hard at work. His defense team includes Alan Dershowitz, Roy Black, Jack Goldberger, and Gerald Lefcourt. Roy Black, whose former clients include Rush Limbaugh and William Kennedy Smith, said that private investigators were used to investigate the claims made by the young and underage girls who told police they were paid to massage Epstein. According to police documents obtained by ABC News, some girls and their families reported being harassed and followed by private eyes working for Epstein. One girl’s father told police that he had been “followed aggressively by a private investigator” who was “running other vehicles off the road in an attempt not to lose sight” of him, according to police records. Black said the allegations about the private investigators’ behavior are false and that proof of that was submitted to the state attorney’s office and the grand jury. He also added that the use of private investigators is not unusual in a case when police allege criminal activity. Also on the team is Alan Dershowitz, who defended OJ Simpson and Claus Von Bulow.