We are nothing if not the unofficial historian of our REGJB legal times. That is why this little innocuous article by David Ovalle of the Herald caught our attention.
BY DAVID OVALLE
When a man beat him up over a drugs-and-hooker debt, Marco Sostizzo got even -- by calling police claiming the dealer carjacked his Mitsubishi Galant, authorities say.
But it wasn't true, Miami-Dade cops say. They arrested Sostizzo for making a false police report.
It happened Tuesday at 1300 NW 79th St. Sotizzo, 25, told a Miami-Dade cop an unknown man wearing a Miami Heat jersey socked him in the eye, ear and neck, took his keys and drove off in the Galant.
But Miami-Dade Detective James E. Dixon unraveled the story.
Sostizzo, of Sunrise, had been cruising the neighborhood on a binge when the unidentified man attacked him over the debt. He knew where his Galant was but inexplicably called police instead, police said.
Pull up a chair children and let uncle Horace tell you a story.
It was a different time.
Janet Reno was our State Attorney, and crack had ravaged our community for over a decade.
A Governor from Arkansas was making waves in the Democratic primaries, while his Brother –in-Law Hugh Rodham laboured in obscurity at the PD’s office. Joe Gersten was a Miami Dade Commissioner with a swanky home in Coral Gables, a fancy Mercedes, and unbeknownst to the electorate, a taste for crack and loose women.
All of that and more was about to change.
April 29, 1992: Wasted bodies and lives and run down crack holes littered Biscayne Boulevard from 36th street to 79th street. Most Miamians just locked their doors and rolled up their windows when they had to drive by the neighborhood.
Enter Commissioner Joe Gersten who reported to the police that his Blue Mercedes Benz had been stolen from his home. The car was soon located and one Kenneth Elswick, with an arrest record for dealing crack was behind the wheel. Elswick was arrested for grand theft auto. However, Elswick had a card to play: 2 cards actually- prostitutes Claudia Lira and Tracy Sheehan who had helped Elswick rob Gersten as he “partied” with Lira and Sheehan in a crack Den on NE 31st street. The police located other witnesses who saw Elswick drive the Mercedes away from the crack den, not Gersten’s home, and suddenly before you can say “G-day Mate” events unfolded at a pace rivaling the current Broward Courthouse fiasco.
Reno subpoeaned Gersten but “silent Joe” refused to speak. It was a classic perjury trap: say the car was stolen from his home, and face a perjury rap. Say the car was taken from the crackhouse, and face a filing false police report charge and an explanation of what he was doing holding an open house for his constituents on NE 31st street.
Circuit Judge Amy Dean ordered Gersten to speak. Gersten refused. Dean held him in contempt and Gersten did 26 days at TGK. The Third DCA set a bond when they agreed to review Dean's order, and Gersten took off. First Hawaii, and then Australia, where he has remained ever since: the most famous fugitive since Dr. Richard Kimble, although there is no one-armed man behind this mess.
The lesson behind all of this is that human nature is a remarkable thing. Despite all the crazy “you’ll never believe this one” stories, the fact is that if you hang around long enough, almost any situation will repeat itself. Call it Rumpole’s First Law Of Clients- no client has done something so stupid that some other person hasn’t already done it.
So Mr. Marco Sostizzo, should you wander by chance into our humble offices, be advised that we have some experience with your situation.
PS: A reader asked for a history lesson on Richard Gerstein. Many others are more qualified than we are to help. Please email us your thoughts on Mr. Gerstein so we can bring our young readers up to speed.
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