Thursday, August 02, 2007


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.


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.

G-day mate

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.


Anonymous said...

That was Amy Dean not Donner who held Joe Gersten in contempt.

Rumpole said...

You, Sir or Madam, are a careful reader of the blog. Take a bow. You caught my one mistake for the year. I have fixed it.

Anonymous said...

joe's brother , david convinced his fellow judges on the 3d to give joe a bond. they should have all recused themselves and if so, joe would still be in jail here.

Anonymous said...

I never fully knew what Gersten was a fugitive of. Thank you for the history lesson. I actually found it interesting. Now, who is Richard Gerstein? Teach me Rump, teach me.

Anonymous said...

We call that a Miami fix -- half-assed with a heaping of braggadocio. You used Donner's name repeatedly, but only corrected it once, despite your assurance that this was "my one mistake for the year. I have fixed it."

Anonymous said...

I hear that Freemantle is beautiful, and it is winter now.

Maybe "Uncle Joey" can use a help-mate.

By the way, how is brother David on the 3rd DCA, and has been living in Gainesville for about 10 years?

Riddle me that, Horace.

Anonymous said...

Another mistake: Joe Gersten was not a City of Miami commissioner. The Miami commissioner was his then-girlfriend Rosario Kennedy. Joe Gersten was a Metro commissioner and he oversaw the Miami International Airport for the Dade County Commission. The SAO didn't give a crap about the stolen Mercedes and, had it been anyone else, this case would have been one more no-action for failure of the victim to appear for the pre-file conference. The SAO took the unusual step to enforce the subpoena and set the perjury trap as leverage to get Joe to share his knowledge about the ever-rampant corruption at MIA which was what really mattered in the case. When Joe took off, the warrant was issued by Judge Joel Brown.

Over the next few years, there were Elvis-like sightings of Joe Gersten around Dade County, but it always turned out to be Sam Slom, then a prosecutor and now a county judge, who looked remarkably similar to Joe.

And nothing has changed at the airport.

Anonymous said...

Here's your second mistake. Gersten was a Metro-Dade commissioner, not a Miami city commissioner.

Anonymous said...

what on earth is going on with alex acosta? is he really going after benny k? is there a more liked and respected guy in the criminal defense community?

Anonymous said...

I dont get it. Why not just say I was embarrased for obvious reasons to tell police he stole the car from a crack house versus his house. The fact is the guy stole his car.

What a dumb ass.

Anonymous said...

excuse me rump ya still have donner in the body of your story. i expect nothing but facts when i read this blog at 3am after a few drinks.

Rumpole said...

What are you people talking about? it looks fine to me.

Anonymous said...

Gerstein was a corrupt State Attorney
who hung out with two bit crooks and gamblers. His office was so rife with corruption that the local polici had to go to Tallahassee to get the then AG Shevin to apply for wiretaps to the Florida Supreme Court,need more ! And oh I can't wait for the revisionist historians to start screaming about slander of their dead saint!

Anonymous said...

Rumps, you just pulled a Joe Gersten. After being told your story was filled with mistakes, you then changed your story and protested "it looks fine to me." Must have spent last night on crack with a hooker. Someone issue a subpoena for Rumps -- let him (or her) explain the truth about his (or her) after-the-fact coverup -- or let him (or her) flee to Australia.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rumpola- kitten update: My little kitten Sarduy has grown into a nice young cat. Very cute, very playful, as his name implies. Plus the Parrot at my Vets office is still there screaming Sarduy every few minutes. Now that would be annoying. Anyway, I'm going to get another kitten to keep Sarduy company. Can your readers help me with a name that kitten contest?

So far, the nominees are


Rumpole said...


Rumpole said...

Let the word go forth- we shall publish any and all Gerstein comments, pro or con Gerstein. LET JUSTICE BE DONE THOUGH THE HEAVENS MAY FALL.

(i'm sort of in a Kennedy Camelot quoting type of mood this am.)

Anonymous said...

OK, Gerstein liked the ponies, and they ran during daylight at Hialeah. Big Deal.

Every politician gets accused os something. Gerstein was proud of his personal likes.

He only made money when he left office and became partners with F. Lee Bailey.

No one was ever proven to have done wrong in the office - and he prosecuted bigger corruption cases than any of his replacements.

Revisionist history is not the same as false accucations 30 years after the fact.

Anonymous said...

wow rump you are showing your age,or maybe it's because you practice in south florida where the rules really are different......we havn't "Demanded Discovery" since the mid 80's ..............hell you are old enough to probably have placed a bet with Gerstein's bookie buddies !!!!!

Anonymous said...

anyone know the whereabouts of these court-broom era players:

1. Steve Glass
2. Phil Davis
3. Arthur Luongo
4. Ray Takiff
5. Nancy Lechner (only female arrested in court broom)
6. Roy T. Gelber
7. Ralph Person
8. Mousey (Howie Gross)

Any info on why Mayra Trinchet and Randy Maultasch were never indicted? Their, and many others, blatant overbilling begat the "wheel", which begat the JAC, which begat SB 1088, which begat the fall of the legal world as we know it.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, will you address the mistakes that the readers pointed out and correct your post? You are not doing too well as the self-appointed "unofficial historian of our REGJB legal times" if you can't even recall the Gersten story in an accurate fashion.



Congrats to Roger Cabrera; he being the only Miami attorney today that earned certification as a specialist as designate by The Florida Bar. Here is the list:

Criminal Appellate

Dea Abramschmitt, West Palm Beach
Brynn Gail Newton, Daytona Beach

Criminal Trial

James Paul Hudson, Bradenton
Stephen Mathew Whyte, Bradenton
Cary Martin Clennon, Fort Laud
Jonathan S. Friedman, Fort Laud
Brian Hobbs Mallonee, Fort Pierce
Roger Cabrera, Miami
Jason Scott Lewis, Jacksonville
Richard A. Selinger, Jacksonville
Larry B. Henderson, Orlando
Robert Scott Larr, Orlando
Tauna Ren Bogle, Tampa
Joseph Anthony Caimano Jr., Tampa
Jennifer X. Gabbard, Tampa
Jason Samuel Weiss, West Palm Beach

CAPTAIN OUT .............

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, you're getting tiresome. Bye.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole- I would like to let everyone know I saw Gerry Klein today on Miami Beach having lunch at Epicure (no surpirise there). I sat down and spoke with him for a few minutes. He looks great. He is 85 years old. He was a Judge in Florida for 48 years. He was sad to leave the bench, and wanted to do it for a few more years, but had no regrets and was staying busy. We didn't speak much about why he left. He made an off hand reference to the "business from the State attorneys office" but I didn't follow up on it.
Personally I don't know the story of why he left and I didn't push him on it.

Gerry Klein -affectionately known as Fast Gerry- was one of the first Judges I practised before. I was his prosecutor when the Herald reported he was robbed on the golf course at 11am, and a few days later the Herald wanted to know what he was doing on the golf course at 11am. We all got a big chuckle out of that. He was a good man and a fair Judge and I will miss him at bond hearings. It would be nice if the FACDL did something for him at their next dinner. He devoted almost a half a century to this community and he should be recognized and thanked for it.

Phil R

Anonymous said...

I've been getting more and more clients coming into my office who got the crap beat out of them by Beach cops. ASA's need to be aware that these beach cops are kicking ass and then alleging Battery on LEO to justify their actions.
On a lighter note...I'd like to invite our witty bloggers to post the songs they think Peter Adrien has on his IPOD. Have at it.

Anonymous said...

Adrien Iopd-
I'm a fool
I'm a dope
Girl you know its true
Stop the world and melt with you
ABC- not the Jackson 5 song, the nursey school song abcdefg...etc

The Best of Judy Garland

IPOD cast- succeeding in life with an IQ under 100- I did it and so can you.

Lord the fact that chucklehead is a Judge makes me ill.

Anonymous said...

on Adrien's IPOD

Shumie sell sea shells down by the sea shore

the shells Shumie sells
are sea shells

down by the sea shore.

Anonymous said...

Sarduy cat lover-

name your new cat Golembe.

It works.

Rumpole said...

12:38= Please reconsider. I don't what we'd do without you.

Total 283,944
Average Per Day 595
Average Visit Length 3:31
Last Hour 34
Today 287
This Week 4,162

Rumpole said...

Lighten up Francis.



"Asking for it? No, asking for justice" ...

or Monday morning quarterbacking...

An editorial in the Palm Beach Post has us looking really North of The Border at a case involving the rape and murder of a young high school girl.

Amanda Buckley was found July 20, raped and strangled in Jason Shenfeld's closet.

The disturbing part of this story begins much earlier, when, in November, an 18- and a 19-year-old told investigators from hospital beds that Jason Shenfeld bound them with duct tape and used a knife and the threat of releasing a pit bull to force them to perform sex acts.

Shenfled was never charged in those two alleged crimes.

Now, Buckley is dead.

Read the full story here:


CAPTAIN OUT .............

Rumpole said...

How many City of Miami Beach Cops does it take to beat up a defendant?

NONE. He fell down the stairs all on his own.



Trying again for that link:




Our sincerest condolences to the family of Michael Aaron Bienstock.

Michael, who spent 23 years fighting to protect children as a prosecutor for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, died Tuesday of skin cancer. He was 59.

Many of you may remember that Michael ran for Judge in 2006 against Cecilia Armenteros-Chavez and eventual winner Jose L. Fernandez.

''Michael gave himself endlessly,'' said Howard Pohl, a Miami-Dade chief assistant state attorney. ``His death is a tragic loss for the community.''

In 1985, Bienstock joined the state attorney's office, working to enforce child-support orders. He helped feed, clothe and shelter more than 110,000 children, said State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle.

Michael leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Esther, and four children.

CAPTAIN OUT ...........

Anonymous said...

hi rumpole - i saw phil reizenstein's post about seeing judge jerry klein at lunch at epicure. i think that an inquiry should be done as to why mr. reizenstein was not at the courthouse eating from his brown bag lunch that day. jackie spends a good deal of her time making him his peanut butter and banana sandwich every day. kfr should investigate whether he was on official business at epicure during working hours and whether he traded sandwiches with judge klein in exchange for gossip. this is a travesty. we deserve answers rumpole....

Anonymous said...

Michael was a gentleman during our race. The only time we saw each other after the election, we shook hands and he was extremely gracious.

Besides wanting to become a judge we had at least one other thing in common--a loving and supportive family. I know they are missing him terribly.

Joe Fernandez

Anonymous said...

The former Judge is a former Judge for a reason- Lenny Cooperman scared him off the bench.

Anonymous said...

Beach cops beating up defendants? That's old news. The new jurisdiction known for leaving many a bruise and laceration on an arrestee?


Anonymous said...

former judge is not just the president of the former judges hairclub for men, he's a client!

Anonymous said...

7:19, if only you knew what you were talking about. The Governor, Claude Kirk initiated the investigation against Gerstein. It was clearly politically motivated. FDLE found NOTHING. If there was something to be found, they would have. Mr. Gerstein, aka the Boss, stood by his prosecutors, defended them and supported them after they left his office--unconditionally. You will never find a more loyal individual. The Building is justly named after the man who represented justice.

Anonymous said...

Alex Michaels and his one man band doing the Roumanian Tenderloin Twist, 3 shows only- tonight at Midnight, tommorow at Midnight and 2 Am- at the Hard Rock Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe. Come catch the catchiest Roumanian Rock around.

Anonymous said...

Read the House Committee on Government Reform report on the Gersten case and reconsider your remarks, Rumpy. Gersten was never a "fugitive" in a civil contempt case.
The state attorney's office ignored exculpatory evidence, including a false murder accusation against Mr Gersten in the shooting death of the transvestite prostitute 'Champagne', suborned by hooker Claudia Lira.
When Kenneth Elswick was pulled over while driving Gersten's Mercedes the arresting officer (the late Mr Garcia) claimed he stopped the vehicle because the tags were on the stolen vehicle 'watch list';
this was not possible due to the fact that Elswick had changed the license plates that morning as evidenced by the impound records.
After arresting the car thieves, Officer Garcia spent the afternoon driving around town, all the while using the car phone to call some of the same numbers the crooks had used when they were in possession of the vehicle; interestingly, though not immediately germane, Officer Garcia was arrested later that evening when he approached an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute in a sting operation.
Kenneth Elswick was never charged with any crime in connection to the case, not even when wiretap on Mr Gersten's phone recorded his offer to Joe to change his story for ten thousand dolars. A neighbor walking her dog saw Joe's car in his driveway at the time that the prostitutes claimed they were 'partying' with him. Claudia Lira told Wayne Pearce that she had been paid $400 by 'the FBI' to get Joe into trouble. All drug tests on Joe, including hair testing, were negative. I could (and will) go on and on.
Some of your statements border on the libelous

Anonymous said...

He's not in Australia anymore. He's now in Belgium, on my course, studying European law. He interrupts a lot with redundant questions.