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.
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Seeking a fresh start in life and a discharge from creditors – including the attorney who masterminded her acquittal in the murder of two-year old Caylee Anthony – Casey Anthony filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy late Friday in Tampa.
Claiming $1,100 in assets and over $792,000 in liabilities, the unemployed Anthony has listed unsecured debts that include $500,000 to Jose Baez for attorney fees and costs for her criminal defense during trial; $145,660 to the Orange County Sheriff’s office for a judgment covering investigative fees and costs; $68,540 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes, interest and penalties; and $61,505 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for investigative costs.
Anthony lists about 80 creditors in her 60-page court filing. For the most part, she claims unsecured debt for attorney’s fees, forensics, investigative and consulting services, in addition to medical and psychiatric services.
Other unsecured debts include Anthony’s mother, Cindy, unpaid credit card bills and even a debt for scuba diving services.
It appears that Anthony has included every possible debt to every possible party.
The bankruptcy filing also shows that Anthony is a defendant in several lawsuits, including one brought by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez for defamation in the Orange County Circuit Court.
Fernandez-Gonzalez claims that her reputation was destroyed when Anthony told detectives that a babysitter with the same name kidnapped Caylee. Later found dead, police were investigating the 2008 disappearance of the two-year old.
Although strikingly similar, Anthony’s attorney has previously stated that details offered by her to police did not match this particular Fernandez-Gonzalez.
A successful bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7 would wipe Casey Anthony’s financial slate totally clean. Although a trustee has the right to take possession of and sell non-exempt property and use the sale proceeds to pay creditors, only $1,100 in assets have been claimed by Anthony.
Unemployed and recently completing probation following her previous felony conviction on check fraud charges, the acquitted alleged murderess has nothing to lose by discharging her debts utilizing federal bankruptcy laws.
Although bankruptcy may appear on her credit report for up to ten years, Casey Anthony will always be compared to O.J. Simpson as an acquitted alleged killer.
Now imprisoned in Nevada on unrelated robbery and kidnapping charges, Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of the 1994 double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman after a lengthy, internationally publicized trial in Los Angeles, California.
The Tampa bankruptcy filing came on the same day that the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed two of Anthony’s four misdemeanor convictions for providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation.
“The Appellate Court disagreed with Judge Perry’s interpretation of the law arguing that providing ‘false information’ is not the same thing as a false statement,” indicated Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich. “If the police are questioning you about a robbery and you state that ‘birds do not fly’ – that is a false statement, not false information. That is the distinction the Fifth District Court of Appeal used to reverse the two misdemeanor ‘lying’ convictions.”
Although Anthony was acquitted of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child, she was found guilty by a Florida jury of lying to police. She was sentenced to one year in jail on each count, to be served consecutively.
Having received substantial credit for time served, Anthony was released days later on July 17, 2011. An appeal by her attorney followed.
“Wiping her debt away through bankruptcy was inevitable,” said John Contini, a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney and author of several real-life crime dramas including Danger Road and Feeling the Heat. “Although forever in debt to those who helped acquit her of killing young Caylee, without the protection of the federal Bankruptcy court, Casey Anthony would never be truly set free.”
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.
As part of their commitment to the community, Applebee’s is partnering with the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale and the American Cancer Society (ACS) to help raise funds and generate awareness for cancer research.
To help with the effort, Applebee’s, located at 6005 North University Drive, Tamarac, FL 33321 is hosting a special event Wednesday, January 9th during which 15% of its total sales from 5 p.m. will be donated to the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale.
Throughout the evening, guests are welcome to dine at Applebee’s to support a great cause. Information about the Tamarac – North Lauderdale Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society and the important work of its foundations and community outreach will be available.
The January team meeting of the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale will also be held. Be among the first to learn about their first team fundraising challenge. The meetings are open to all team members and those who are interested in learning more about Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
“It’s amazing to think that millions of people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Someone close to me may be one of them,” stated event chairwoman Julie Fishman. “Our Relay for Life is not only a way to join in the fight back against cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease.”
The Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale will be held on May 17th and 18th at Millennium Middle School in Tamarac. For information on the event, you may visit them online, “Like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
As part of their commitment to the community, Five Guys Burgers and Fries is partnering with the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale and the American Cancer Society (ACS) to help raise funds and generate awareness for cancer research.
To help with the effort, Five Guys Burgers and Fries – located at 5701 North University Drive, Tamarac, FL 33321 – is hosting a special event Thursday night, January 10th, during which 15% of its total sales from 5-9 p.m. will be donated to the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale.
“We’re proud to support the American Cancer Society through the Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale,” stated Ed Kelin, manager of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. “This event is part of our commitment to the local communities where we reside.”
Beginning at 5 p.m. and throughout the evening, guests are welcome to dine at Five Guys Burgers and Fries to support a great cause. Information about the Tamarac – North Lauderdale Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society and the important work of its foundations and community outreach will be available.
“It’s amazing to think that millions of people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Someone close to you or me may be one of them,” stated event chairwoman Julie Fishman. “Our Relay for Life is not only a way to join in the fight back against cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease.”
The Relay for Life of Tamarac – North Lauderdale will be held on May 17th and 18th at Millennium Middle School in Tamarac. For information on the event, you may visit them online, “Like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Ten major mortgage servicers including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo entered into a $8.5 billion settlement Monday with federal regulators to settle claims related to mortgage foreclosure abuses.
Under the terms of the settlement with the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), $3.3 billion will be paid by banks directly to eligible mortgage borrowers. Over $5.2 billion in other assistance – such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments – will also be available.
The agreement covers 3.8 million borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 with participating servicers.
By agreeing to the settlement, participating lenders can cease the Independent Foreclosure Review process mandated under an enforcement action entered in April 2011.
Regulators had determined that the foreclosure review process – which involved a case-by-case review of millions of loan files – was proving too expensive, time consuming and ineffective.
“When we began the Independent Foreclosure Review, the OCC pledged to fix what was broken, identify who was harmed, and compensate them for that injury,” Chief Thomas Curry of the OCC stated in a written release. “While today’s announcement represents a significant change in direction, it meets those original objectives by ensuring that consumers are the ones who will benefit, and that they will benefit more quickly and in a more direct manner.”
Monday’s deal follows a separate $26 billion mortgage settlement entered early last year in relation to the “robo-signing” scandal.
Only $1.5 billion of that settlement was in the form of direct cash relief to 750,000 borrowers.
Eligible borrowers under the latest settlement will receive compensation whether or not they filed a request for an independent foreclosure review and mortgage borrowers do not need to take further action to be eligible for compensation.
Borrowers are expected to be contacted by the end of March with specific payment details. They will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims that may exist against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment.
In addition, the servicers’ internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers.
“We have learned a great deal from the reviews that have been conducted to date. However, it has become clear that carrying the process through to its conclusion would divert money away from the impacted homeowners and also needlessly delay the dispensation of compensation to affected borrowers. Our new course of action will get more money to more people more quickly, and it will speed recovery in the nation’s housing markets,” Curry concluded.
Governor Rick Scott will announce Monday a promotion from within at the Florida Department of Corrections. Currently holding the number two spot as deputy secretary, Michael Crews will be elevated to the top position within the nation’s third largest prison system.
Crews will succeed Ken Tucker, whose retirement becomes official on December 28th. Like his predecessor, Crews was a long-time official at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before switching agencies and joining the Department of Corrections.
Crews will be Scott’s third prisons chief in less than two years. Scott had previously selected Edwin Buss, a highly-regarded former Indiana corrections director. Following several clashes with the governor’s office, he was forced out after just eight months as secretary.
In following Buss, Tucker was seen more or less as a caretaker as he long ago planned to retire in March 2013 by entering the DROP program, or the state’s deferred retirement option program.
Turnover at the Florida Department of Corrections is not unique. The appointment of Crews is the sixth in six years for an agency that has been hit by scandal and controversy. For example, former secretary James Crosby is serving eight years in federal prison following a 2007 plea agreement involving kickbacks and bribes from a prison contractor.
Crews will take charge at a time when a state court dealt the agency a major setback by striking down the planned outsourcing of all inmate health care services for most of the state. The agency is appealing that decision.
With more than 100,000 inmates and an annual budget of more than $2 billion, Florida’s prison system is the nation’s third largest.
According to Melissa Sellers, a governor’s office spokeswoman, an official announcement of Crews’ promotion will be made early Monday.
As Christmas is approaching and Bill Lewis prepares to announce his New Years resolutions for 2013, interesting guests and timely topics will be on AM 740 WSBR and AM 1470 WWNN the weekend of December 17th and The Credit Report with Bill Lewis.
As a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis can be found on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida. Hosted by Bill Lewis, the show broadcasts live weekdays at 7am.
Originally launched on AM 1400 WFTL in 2004, as the “Credit Restoration Consultants Hour,” Bill Lewis provided self-help tips and advice regarding credit repair, finances, and related topics. Throughout the years, Bill’s show strayed from the original concept of providing financial awareness to his listeners.
In an effort to strengthen his listener base and to broaden the topics hosted, Bill launched The Credit Report with Bill Lewis upon moving to AM 1470 WWNN within the Beasley Broadcasting group.
Listeners were searching for help regarding a myriad of topics from credit repair, extreme coupon shopping, and foreclosure matters, but welcomed the political format that Bill introduced locally to a south Florida audience.
Since the show’s inception, Bill Lewis has interviewed some of the country’s leading politicians, including: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Allen West, Rick Scott, George LeMieux, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, Marco Rubio, Sharon Day, Alex Sink, Adam Putnam, Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, Jennifer Carroll, Christine O’Donnell, among others.
In addition, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis has hosted a number of politicians as well as attorneys and financial experts in the south Florida area. Among the dozens that have appeared on the show are Carlos Reyes, Al Lamberti, Chip LaMarca, Adam Hasner, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Tom Rooney, Roger Stone, Bob Davids, Lori Parrish, Richard Denapoli, Rico Petrocelli, Jamie McDonnell, Jim Lewis, Tom Lauder, and John Contini.
The Credit Report with Bill Lewis airs live, Monday through Friday from 7am-8am Eastern Time with an encore presentation Saturday’s at 3pm on AM 740 WSBR. Streaming audio is available at
and on air participation is welcome at (888) 721-0074.
If you miss the early broadcast, The Credit Report with Bill Lewis is still available weeknights at 9pm Eastern Time, Saturday’s at 6pm and Sunday’s at 8pm on AM 1470 WWNN by streaming audio at www.wwnnradio.com.
Going head-to-head against Steve Kane and Jimmy Cefalo, Bill Lewis promises more “talk” and fewer commercials.
For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 21,950 plus fans on Facebook at:
On Wednesday, TransUnion released its annual forecast on two primary consumer credit variables – mortgage and credit card delinquency rates.
The national mortgage loan delinquency rate – or the ratio of borrowers that are 60 or more days past due – is projected to decline to 5.06 percent by the end of 2013 from an estimated 5.32 percent this year. TransUnion forecasts mortgage delinquencies, a statistic generally considered to be a precursor to foreclosure, will decline in 34 states and the District of Columbia with only 13 states experiencing increases.
“As house prices and unemployment slowly improve, TransUnion’s forecast indicates that the national mortgage delinquency rate will gradually drop throughout 2013,” said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing in TransUnion’s financial services business unit, in a prepared release. “While we are encouraged by the direction of the forecast, we would have hoped for a projection that called for a more substantive drop in delinquencies. If the pace of improvement does not pick up, it will take a very long time to get back to ‘normal’ delinquency rates.”
The mortgage delinquency rate peaked to 6.89 percent in Q4 2009 after rising 12 consecutive quarters from its 1.94 percent mark in Q4 2006. The 255 percent increase was unprecedented in American history.
Based upon the most recent data, the peak in mortgage delinquency rates has dropped 21 percent to 5.41 percent in Q3 2012.
Should TransUnion’s forecast hold true in 2013, the rate would only have dropped about 27 percent over a four year period. This is still well above the “normal” delinquency rate range of 1.5 to 2 percent.
“The slow improvement pace we are experiencing right now seems to be less about new borrowers not being able to make their payments and more about existing borrowers who have been delinquent for a very long time,” stated Martin. “For example, our analysis shows the delinquency rate would fall to around 2.5 percent, or pretty much normal, if we simply took borrowers who haven’t made a mortgage payment in over a year out of the calculation. By comparison, pre-recession, it was unusual for a borrower to go more than 6 months without either being able to cure their situation or go through the foreclosure process.”
Credit card delinquency rates – or the ratio of bankcard borrowers that are 90 or more days delinquent on one or more of their credit cards – are expected to remain relatively low throughout 2013, increasing slightly from 0.83% in Q4 2012 to 0.87% in Q4 2013.
From 2000 until 2011, the credit card delinquency rate has averaged 1.24% during the fourth quarter. In the 51 quarters since Q1 2000, the credit card delinquency rate has only been below the 0.90% threshold 10 times.
“The credit card delinquency rate continued to remain low in 2012 after reaching its lowest level since 1994 in the second quarter of 2011,” stated Steve Chaouki, group vice president in TransUnion’s financial services business unit, in a prepared release. “We expect much of the same in 2013 as consumers have come to rely on their credit cards for liquidity with continued high unemployment rates and a stagnant economy.
“It should be noted that we have seen credit card delinquencies drift somewhat higher in the last year. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that credit card delinquencies were so low, that at some point they were bound to increase. A more significant factor may be that credit card originations have been increasing in the last few years, and with that increase we have seen non-prime borrowers receive not only more credit cards, but also comprise a larger share of new credit cards.”
The latest credit card origination data from TransUnion points to an increase in non-prime credit card borrowers. The share of non-prime, higher-risk originations – with a VantageScore® credit score lower than 700 – was 29.55 percent in Q2 2012. This was slightly higher than last year with 29.28 percent in Q2 2011and much higher than the 23.86 percent observed in Q2 2010.
Credit card debt per borrower – which has been relatively low since 2010 – is expected to increase from its current $4,996 level (as of Q3 2012) to $5,050 in Q4 2012 and $5,446 at the end of 2013. This would be the highest credit card debt level since 2009. In Q1 2009, the average credit card debt per borrower peaked at $5,776.
In 2013, thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia are projected to see credit card delinquency increases in with only six states experiencing declines.
States expected to experience the largest credit card delinquency increases next year include Ohio (11.84%), Missouri (8.33%) and North Dakota 7.50%). However, all of these states still remain below their historic averages. The largest declines in 2013 are expected in Rhode Island (-7.59%), Montana (-5.88%) and Georgia (-5.21%).
TransUnion’s forecasts are based on various economic assumptions, such as gross state product, consumer sentiment, unemployment rates and real estate values. The forecasts would change if there are unanticipated shocks to the global economy affecting recovery in the housing market, or if home prices unexpectedly continue to fall.
The most recent mortgage and credit card delinquency data for the nation can be found at www.transunion.com/trenddata.