Claiming that George Zimmerman – the Florida man acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin – has not responded to a divorce petition filed last September, his estranged wife Shellie Zimmerman late Tuesday requested a Seminole County court judge to grant a default motion against him, according to the ABA Journal.
Zimmerman, the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer who was acquitted last year of murdering Martin, successfully evaded service of process for several months following the September 5th petition filing. He was eventually served on December 18th, when Zimmerman was jailed on allegations of breaking a table and pointing a shotgun at his then girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe.
Kicking Scheibe out of her home, Zimmerman reportedly used furniture to prevent the door of the house from being opened by responding sheriff’s deputies, but did not resist arrest.
The charges against Zimmerman were subsequently dismissed when Scheibe refused to prosecute.
In Florida, the law requires that an individual being sued respond within 20 days of personal service upon them. Not having responded in a timely manner, Shellie Zimmerman’s lawyer entered a clerk’s default on January 13th. She has now requested that the court enter a final judgment of dissolution in the matter.
According to Shellie Zimmerman, she claims $13,000 in assets and $104,000 in debts. There are no children between the couple or real estate owned and neither party are in the military. While each party will retain their personal property, Shellie Zimmerman has asked for ownership of their two dogs.
While ignoring the divorce filing, George Zimmerman – in a financial affidavit filed with the court following his domestic violence arrest – reported approximately $2.5 million in debt. Reportedly that amount is what he owes lawyers Mark O’Mara and Don West for successfully defending him in the murder trial.
In a proceeding related to the Trayvon Martin case, Shellie Zimmerman pled guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge last August in a deal carrying a sentence of one year probation. In that case, prosecutors discovered recorded telephone calls from the Seminole County jail between Shellie and George Zimmerman where they spoke in code conspiring to hide more than $100,000 that had been donated by online supporters.
Days after the phone call, she testified via teleconference that she and George Zimmerman were broke.
Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.
Expect more, pay less has brought new meaning as Target announced this week how shoppers can enroll in a free credit monitoring and identity theft protection service in the wake of a massive data heist.
According to a specially dedicated website, the retailer will offer customers the service for one year.
Target customers can register for the service — regardless whether they have been personally affected by the theft of customer data records at the discount store chain.
The announcement comes after Target revealed last week that the massive security breach may have affected up to 110 million of its customers during the holiday shopping season and included more types of confidential information than previously disclosed.
Target had previously reported that about 40 million credit and debit cards may have been affected by the breach that occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
“I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this,” stated Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Target in a written statement. “I also want our guests to know that understanding and sharing the facts related to this incident is important to me and the entire Target team.”
While continuing to investigate, Target now indicates that an additional 70 million customers were impacted by the theft of their names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses. Some of the information stolen in the data breach belonged to customers who shopped before the holiday season.
“They all claim to care about protecting us from identity theft, but their very similar privacy policies don’t appear to support these claims,” stated Denise Richardson, herself a victim of identity theft and author of “Give Me Back My Credit.” ”It’s difficult to believe they are as interested in protecting our personal info as they are in protecting their business model in an ecosystem comprised of undisclosed partners, affiliates, vendors, alliances, resellers and contractors who, along with any other undisclosed third party they warn they buy, sell or share our data with.”
Surpassing an incident uncovered in 2007 that saw more than 45 million credit and debit cards stolen from Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, the Target data breach is the largest reported ever for a retailer.
“Within a day of enrolling in the credit monitoring service, I received details to check my credit,” Remington Longstreth, a frequent Target shopper told Examiner. “I’m going to use this service to supplement what I already have to protect my good name and reputation in the community.”
In addition to the Target credit monitoring service, impacted customers may also protect themselves from potential identity theft.
Periodically review your credit report
By keeping close tabs on your credit report, you can detect signs of identity theft early. If you find an account not opened by you and have identified it as fraudulent, enter a dispute directly with the creditor as well as with the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
You can obtain a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228.
Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report
Contact the credit reporting agencies and request a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report. Not only will this trigger a free credit report but will advise potential creditors to investigate any application prior to issuing credit, goods, benefits and/or services.
Equifax can be contacted at 800-525-6285, Experian at 888-397-3742 and Trans Union at 800-916-8800. Be sure to renew the alert every three months.
Freeze your credit report
Identity thieves are frozen in their tracks without access to your credit report as potential creditors will not have access to your credit history. In most states, you are entitled to temporarily “freeze” access to your credit profile without cost if you are over 65 years of age or are a verified victim of identity theft. All others may be required to pay a small fee. Without access to your credit report, a responsible lender will not issue credit.
Stop unsolicited credit card offers
Opting out at www.optoutprescreen.com or 888-5OPT-OUT will stop most unsolicited pre-approved applications and reduce the incidence of identity theft. Opting out refers to the process of removing your name and address from lists supplied by the Equifax, Experian, Trans Union and Innovis credit reporting agencies to be used for firm (preapproved/ prescreened) offers of credit or insurance.
“Freezing our credit and keeping a vigilant eye on our accounts ourselves continues to be the only way we have any control over our data, at least until there is far more transparency and a lot less sharing of data,” concluded Richardson.
Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.
A routine traffic stop can be anything but routine for emergency responders. Since 1999, more than 200 law enforcement officers in the United States have died and thousands have been injured as a result of being on the side of the road doing their job and being hit by an oncoming vehicle, according to Colonel David Brierton of the Florida Highway Patrol on Tuesday.
During the month of January, FHP troopers and law enforcement officers throughout the state will increase their focus on making drivers aware of the state’s “Move Over” law. The law protects law enforcement officers, emergency workers and tow truck drivers who are stopped along Florida roadways in the performance of their duties.
“Florida’s Move Over law was enacted in 2002 to safeguard Florida’s emergency responders who are on the roadways working to protect you and your families,” stated Col. David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, in a prepared release. “Abide by the ‘Move Over’ law and help us protect our emergency personnel and their families.”
Understanding Move Over:
· Drivers must move over when a patrol car, emergency vehicle and/or tow truck is stopped on the side of a road with lights flashing.
· If they cannot move over safely, drivers should slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
· Always approach the emergency vehicle with caution.
Violating “Move Over” laws puts motorists and emergency responders at risk. In Florida, it can also result in a heavy fine and points on your driver license record.
Learn more about Florida’s “Move Over” law at http://www.flhsmv.gov/SafetyTips/MoveOverTips.htm.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department has lead the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol.
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What would an extra $1.12 a day, $5.60 a week, or $291.20 a year mean to you? Fourteen-cents an hour may seem like small change, but for nearly two hundred thousand minimum wage workers in Florida, it will result in an increased paycheck starting January 1st, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Monday.
That’s when an automatic increase goes into effect, raising the lowest pay rate in Florida to $7.93, up from $7.79.
The same fourteen-cent increase will apply to minimum-wage tipped employees, whose rates will go from $4.71 to $4.91 an hour.
In 2004, Floridians voted by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin to amend the Constitution to enact a state minimum wage. Under the voter-approved amendment, the minimum wage would increase every January to keep pace with any cost of living increase the past year. In those rare instances where the cost of living decreased, the minimum wage would remain the same.
Eight states have laws that tier their minimum wage to the federal rate, the cost of living and inflation. In addition to Florida, each of these states – Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and Washington – raised their minimum wage for 2013 to account for inflation.
“Raising the minimum wage is not a real boost to the economy and will definitely raise the unemployment rate among low-skilled people and teenagers,” Boca Raton public relations guru Barry Epstein told Examiner. “More lower-skill Americans will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. Raising an employee wage is not as simple as supersizing your Happy Meal.”
Impacted are approximately 647,000 Americans who earn minimum wage. Two hundred thousand of these low-wage workers live in Florida.
According to the DEO, employers in Florida must pay employees the hourly state minimum wage for all hours worked. The definitions of employer, employee, and wage for state purposes are the same as those established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Employers of tipped employees – who meet eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the FLSA – may count tips actually received as wages under the Florida minimum wage. However, an employer must pay tipped employees a direct wage. The direct wage is calculated as equal to the minimum wage ($7.93) minus the 2003 tip credit ($3.02), or a direct hourly wage of $4.91 as of January 1, 2014.
Employees who are not paid the minimum wage may bring a civil action against their employer or any person violating Florida’s minimum wage law. The state attorney general may also bring an enforcement action to enforce the minimum wage. FLSA information and compliance assistance can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/compliance/comp-flsa.htm.
Florida Statute also requires an employer who must pay employees the Florida minimum wage to post a minimum wage notice in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where these employees work. This poster requirement is in addition to the federal requirement to post a notice of the federal minimum wage.
The federal poster can be downloaded from the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm.
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Expect more, pay less has brought new meaning to the Christmas shopping rush as Target confirmed early Thursday that information from nearly 40 million of its customer credit and debit cards may have been compromised by a data breach during the height of the holiday shopping season.
Occurring at nearly all of their stores nationwide, the data breach occurred between November 27 and December 15, 2013. Target said it immediately contacted authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the security breach.
“Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests, and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” stated Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement early Thursday. “We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”
Target is working closely with law enforcement and financial institutions, and has identified and resolved the issue. The Minneapolis based-company also reported that they were teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate the breach.
“I can’t think of another day in the calendar when target or anyone else could expect to have more people in stores. More deals, traffic, more swipes — perfect day to launch an attack,” Krebs told ABC News.
The breach is believed to have affected nearly 40,000 card machines at nearly 1,797 Target stores nationwide. While millions of cardholder accounts are potentially vulnerable, online purchases have not been affected.
“The information that’s stored on the magnetic strip — name, card number, expiration date, other info — if bad guys can steal that card … they can actually create a second copy,” Krebs said. “If thieves can create a second copy and were able to intercept a PIN number, that could allow them to withdraw money from ATMs.”
Customers who may have been affected should pay close attention to their credit card and debit statements, said Krebs.
“Advice to customers — be vigilant, pay attention to your statement if something doesn’t look right,” Krebs cautioned. “Whether or not you feel like you might be impacted by this breach, it’s a really good idea, particularly around this time of year, to pay attention to what’s on your debit and credit card statements.”
While consumers will be reimbursed for any fraudulent charges, the refund might not come until after Christmas, creating another headache for shoppers who are operating on limited funds.
For more information, please visit Target’s corporate website. Consumers who suspect unauthorized or fraudulent activity may contact Target at 866-852-8680.
For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 15,500 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.
As a result of the housing collapse, many homeowners experienced a serious reduction in income or lost their jobs due to the crumbling economy. Some mortgage borrowers were forced to file bankruptcy or short sale their home to avoid foreclosure. Others were not so lucky and lost their home on the courthouse steps. Borrowers may now qualify for an FHA mortgage under new guidelines established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage in Pembroke Pines on Monday.
The new HUD rules allow borrowers whose credit was damaged due to a temporary loss of employment or income to qualify for an FHA mortgage if they have substantially recovered from that situation and maintained a positive credit history for at least 12 months. Borrowers who recently experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short-sale, loan delinquencies, deed-in-lieu, debt collections or other situation negatively impacting their FICO credit score may now be able to qualify for an FHA loan.
Recognizing that any number of events may have impacted a borrowers’ credit rating, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) believes that such catastrophic event does not mean they are not financially stable or unable to make a mortgage payment. As such, the previous 3-year waiting period required by the FHA on financing a new home has been revised.
“Referred to as the ‘Back to Work’ initiative, this program is designed for borrowers who lost their home through foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu and also suffered a 20% or more loss in household income,” Eli Younes of Viking Mortgage told Examiner. “As with most FHA loans, this program only requires a 3.5% down payment and is applicable for all purchase loans other than the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”
In order to qualify for a mortgage under the “Back to Work” initiative, there are several steps that must be taken to prove an “Economic Event” that was beyond the borrower’s control.
The lender must verify that the borrower lost at least 20% or more in household income – or became unemployed – for a period of six months prior to the foreclosure, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu. To verify loss of income, the lender must request a written Verification of Employment to show the termination date or loss of income, receipt of unemployment compensation, or signed W-2′s and tax returns detailing the reduction in earnings.
To demonstrate a loss of income for part-time or seasonal employment, the borrower must prove a 2-year history in the same field prior to loss of employment. Borrowers will also be required to prove that they have fully recovered from their hardship, increased earnings and have maintained other credit obligations for a period of 12 months following foreclosure, short sale, bankruptcy or deed in lieu.
When evaluating a borrower for the “Back to Work” initiative following a foreclosure, the lender may deem the borrower eligible if:
1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late housing payments within the last 12 months;
2.) All other mortgage accounts must be current for the last 12 months, even if the loan was previously modified to avoid a foreclosure action;
3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and
4.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.
1.) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: One year must have elapsed since the bankruptcy discharge. Proof must also be shown that the bankruptcy filing was the result of an “Economic Event” covered within the FHA program guidelines.
2.) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most lenders will require that the bankruptcy filing be discharged with all payments required under the agreement having been made on time. For borrowers currently in bankruptcy, written approval from the court allowing them to enter a new mortgage contract is required.
Housing Counseling Requirement:
For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit following an “Economic Event,” mortgage borrowers’ under the “Back to Work” initiative must:
1.) Receive homeownership counseling or a combination of homeownership education and counseling, at a minimum, one hour of one-on-one counseling from HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, as defined at 24 C.F.R. §214.100. The counseling must address the cause of the ‘Economic Event” and the actions taken to overcome it as well as reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence; and
2.) Be completed a minimum of thirty (30) days but no more than six (6) months prior to submitting a loan application to a lender, as application is defined in Regulation X, implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 24 C.F.R. §3500.2(b).
The housing education may be provided by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, state housing finance agencies, approved intermediaries or their sub-grantees, or through an online course. It may be conducted in person, via telephone, via internet, or other methods approved by HUD, and mutually agreed upon by the borrower and housing counseling agency.
Rules for Renters:
Under certain circumstances, renters may qualify under the “Back to Work” initiative. For purposes of establishing satisfactory credit, mortgage borrowers must:
1.) The borrower’s credit report is free of any late rental payments within the last 12 months;
2.) The borrower’s credit report contains no more than a single 30-day delinquency on payments due other creditors; and
3.) The borrower’s credit report contains no current collection accounts or public records. This condition may be waived in instances of identity theft or borrower’s with medical collections.
Prior to the proposal of new mortgage guidelines, the FHA had considerably shorter waiting periods for borrowers who had gone through foreclosure or bankruptcy than for conventional mortgages. In the past, borrowers could be approved for a new FHA mortgage in as little as three years after a foreclosure or two years following a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
A foreclosure, short-sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or deed-in-lieu will continue to plague a borrower’s credit report at the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies for a period of seven years. A discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for a period of ten years.
“As a result of the recession many homeowners experienced unemployment or unforeseen circumstances and were not able to make their monthly mortgage payments,” Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, told Examiner. “I’m glad to see that the FHA has recognized the financial hardship faced by many borrowers and is allowing them to once again attain the American Dream through homeownership.”
The new guidelines take effect immediately and will be in force through at least September, 2016.
A South Miami man is being held without bond Friday after gunning down his wife and posting gruesome photos of her body on Facebook, according to police and The Miami Herald.
Turning himself in to police Thursday, Derek Medina, 31, was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center early Friday following the shooting death of his wife, Jennifer Alonso, 26.
Under the caption “RIP Jennifer Alonzo,” Medina posted a graphic photo of his slain wife’s blood soaked body on his Facebook Timeline. Shortly before, he updated his status to reveal: “You will see me in the news.”
“Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see me in the news,” Medina wrote.
“My wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me.”
Medina then drove to his father’s house and confessed to the murder. Thereafter they drove together to the South Miami Police Department.
“Officers then responded to the listed location where they found the victim deceased from apparent gunshot wounds, as well as the victim’s daughter, 10, who was unharmed,” authorities later reported.
“His lawyers will advance the ‘battered husband syndrome,’ to mimic the often-used defense of ‘battered wife syndrome’ used famously by Ellis Rubin and other lawyers defending wives who have killed their husbands,” Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney John Contini, author of several real-life crime dramas including Danger Road and Feeling the Heat, told Examiner. “They’ll argue, ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,’ otherwise you’re denying men ‘equal protection’ under the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal treatment for both men and women under the law.”
It took Facebook five hours to remove the graphic photo of Jennifer Alonzo from Derek Medina’s personal profile. In releasing a statement to Examiner:
“The content was reported to us. We took action on the profile — removing the content and disabling the profile, and we reached out to law enforcement. We take action on all content that violates our terms, which are clearly laid out on our site.”
With the exception of Medina’s claims of self defense, a motive for the murder is unknown at this time.
“In posting his allegations of domestic violence for the entire world to see, it appears that Medina could be setting the groundwork for a ‘Stand your Ground’ defense,” Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney and Fox/CNN legal contributor Eric Schwartzreich told Examiner. “With that said, a fish doesn’t get caught if it keeps his mouth shut.”
Fading faster than his rise in the polls for New York City mayor, former congressman Anthony Weiner has plummeted to fourth place in the Democratic primary field, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released late Tuesday.
With over 20 declared candidates for mayor, more than have of those surveyed – 53 percent – suggest Weiner should drop out of the race.
Weiner – who first rose to national stardom in 2011 in his now infamous crotch shot - has vowed to stand tall and continue his campaign despite sexting young women while married. Bringing parody to the race while violating the fundamental vows of marriage and abusing the public trust, Weiner remains hard in his commitment to become mayor of America’s largest city.
Crossing party lines – Democrat, Republican and Independent alike – gender, ethnicity and religion, voters have been unforgiving as allegations of continued bad behavior plague a shrinking Weiner base.
“With six weeks to go, anything can happen, but it looks like former Congressman Anthony Weiner may have sexted himself right out of the race for New York City mayor,” stated Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And with Weiner in free-fall, it begins to look like a three-way race again.”
While obstinance and delusion continue to rein supreme for Weiner, he refused to fade from glory and vowed to continue despite his lewd messages to women.
“Quitting isn’t the way we roll in New York City,” Weiner stated in a minute-long video posted on his campaign website late Tuesday. “Someone wants to come out with something embarrassing about you in your private life; you’ve got to talk about that for a little while.”
“If politicians like Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer can reinvent themselves despite allegations of lewd photos, messages and using the services of a prostitute, anyone can,” Rico Petrocelli, former chairman of the Broward Republican Party in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told Examiner. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
Utilizing public record databases to find criminal, civil, or traffic violations in South Florida became a little easier Friday with the release of a semi-comprehensive list of online resources.
Locating and identifying a criminal history, civil litigation or traffic history is but a click away. You can also access resources in relation to inmates, those on probation, parole or community control, sex offenders or missing children, in addition to stolen property or vehicles.
· Florida Department of Law Enforcement – For a modest fee of $23.00, you can obtain an individual’s criminal history record in Florida.
· Broward County court records - Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Miami-Dade County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Monroe County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Palm Beach County court records – Search civil, criminal and traffic courts through the Clerk’s office.
· Florida Offender Alert System – Sign up to receive an email alert when a sex offender moves into your neighborhood.
· Florida Sex Offender Registry – Locate registered sex offenders by name, city, address or zip code.
· Sex offender screen names – Check a computer screen name or email address to determine whether it’s linked to a registered sex offender in Florida.
· National and other state sex offender registries – Search the national database, or select a state to view a particular registry.
Jail and state prison inmates
· Broward County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Broward County.
· Miami-Dade County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Miami-Dade County.
· Monroe County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Monroe County.
· Palm Beach County Jail inmates – Search for inmates currently incarcerated in Palm Beach County as well as those released within the last 12 months.
· Florida Department of Corrections – Search for inmates currently incarcerated or recently released, as well as those on probation, parole, community control or other form of non-custodial release.
Wanted and missing persons
· Florida Missing Children Search – Search for a missing or endangered person directly at the state Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.
· Missing Persons Search – Search for a missing person directly at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
· National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – Search for several national resources for missing children.
· Wanted Persons Search – Search for felony or misdemeanor warrant information as reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
· Wireless Amber alerts – Sign up for free wireless Amber alerts directly to your cell phone.
· Florida Crime Information Center – Search for information on whether a vehicle, vehicle parts, boats, license plates, decals, guns and other items were reported lost or stolen in Florida.
· VINCheck – Search the National Insurance Crime Bureau database to see if a vehicle has been reported stolen.
For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 16,550 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.
2,140 days without freedom.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson devoted almost three decades of service to his country and the citizens of the United States. A career that deserved honors has instead resulted in almost six years as a hostage in a foreign country.
Until his disappearance in March 2007, Levinson, 64, resided with his wife and seven children in Coral Springs. Working as a private investigator, he was researching a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island in Iran when he went missing.
There have been many efforts over the years to locate Levinson and return him home and to his loving family. All have met with disappointing results.
In 2010, the Levinson family received a “proof-of-life” video from his captors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation responded by placing a $1,000,000 reward for information pertaining to his disappearance and whereabouts.
To date, there have been no publicized results and the Levinson family feels all but abandoned.
Family and friends have set up a website and social media accounts under the username of “HelpBobLevinson” on Facebook and Twitter. Spreading awareness by posting updates on Bob Levinson’s “disappearance” in Iran has become priority one.
Levinson’s wife – Christine – released Tuesday five disturbing photos of Bob dressed in an orange prison-type jumpsuit. He had lost weight and has a long grey beard and disheveled hair.
In visibly deteriorating health, Levinson is also seen holding signs pleading for help.
An analysis of the photographs has led authorities to believe that Iran is behind Levinson’s kidnapping. With such knowledge, the family hopes that the United States will exact more pressure on the Iranian government to free Levinson.
According to published reports, the Levinson family received the photos anonymously by email in late 2010 and early 2011. With Tuesday’s release comes a heightened attempt to encourage media awareness and governmental attention.
The Levinson family is now attempting to secure Bob’s freedom through a recently created White House petition process under the Obama Administration’s “We the People” website.
“Make rescuing US Citizen Robert Levinson being held hostage in the Middle East since 2007 a top priority,” states the petition.
The family notes on the website that Levinson is the second-longest-held hostage in American history, second to Terry Anderson, held longer in the Lebanon Hostage Crisis.
As of now, the petition has almost 11,100 signatures. To be successful, it must have 25,000 by January 20th – the day before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington D.C.
“We keep trying to get media attention in the hopes that whoever is holding him can see it, and will reach out to us to try and resolve it,” stated Bob’s son, Doug Levinson. “We also started the petition to try to get the White House to respond to it and make it a top priority.”
When Robert Levinson finally returns home, he will be proud to find his son pursuing the same career path that he took.
“My dad always wanted to be an FBI agent since he was 8 years old,” Levinson said. “None of my brothers or sisters had the desire to go into the FBI, but I have since I can remember. He’s my idol, my hero. Everybody wants to be like their hero, and I’m no different. If I could be half the man my father is, I would be happy.”
The entire community can help the Levinson family by signing the petition and promoting it through social media. In order to warrant an official response from the White House, 14,000 more signatures are required by Sunday.
For more information about Bob Levinson’s disappearance, please visit www.helpboblevinson.com. For more information on the $1,000,000.00 reward being offered by the FBI for information on his disappearance and whereabouts, please visit tips.fbi.gov.