Death Road Revisited
Many families have an uncle or a cousin like Charlie Osborne: likable, sunny, smile as big as a house, but a magnet for trouble. In Osborne's case, the trouble was drugs. Between 1997 and 2002, he was arrested four times for possession of cocaine or drug paraphernalia. In August of last year, police picked him up with a small crack rock in his possession. Though Osborne was much more of a threat to himself than to society, he got six months in county jail.
The 62-year-old prisoner was five days shy of completing his sentence last March when he was assigned to a highway cleanup detail supervised by Broward Sheriff's Office deputies. Picking up discarded tires along U.S. 27 isn't something Tailpipe would ever want to do. He'd rather spew exhaust on anything and everything on the roadside. But for most jailees, it's a lot better than sitting around in lockup.
Around noon on March 12, it happened. Osborne was run over and killed by a county dump truck -- the very vehicle he was supposed to be riding in -- as it moved along the edge of the highway. In jailhouse interviews, two inmates -- Greg Newlin and Joe Buck -- told New Times staff writer Trevor Aaronson they had seen the whole thing from the bed of a pickup driven by Jessie Thompson, a civilian employee of BSO. (Their accounts were published in these pages in May.) They claimed to have witnessed Osborne clinging to the passenger mirror of a dump truck driven by Frank Iovino, his feet inches from the pavement. As Iovino, who was supervising the crew, accelerated to more than 35 mph, Newlin said he saw Osborne fall beneath the rear tires of the dump truck, which ground his lower body against the asphalt. As an ambulance took the inmate's mangled body to Broward General Medical Center, Iovino stood crying at the side of road, Buck said.
What happened? BSO issued a press release, and a spokesman said there would be an investigation. Months passed and... nothing. No indictment, no BSO admission of wrongdoing, no mea culpa from Sheriff Ken Jenne, and no renewed commitment to preserving the safety of people in county custody.
After the accident, according to Newlin, BSO corrections deputies tried to intimidate the witnesses and told them not to talk about what they'd seen. But Newlin, who was serving time for DUI, could not be frightened. He called Osborne's family to let them know what had happened.
Then, finally, on September 10 -- with no press release and no public fanfare -- a state grand jury indicted Iovino, a 58-year-old corrections deputy from Coral Springs, on one count of manslaughter. The state alleges that Iovino was negligent and responsible for Osborne's death. Iovino surrendered to authorities on September 12 and bonded out for $10,000. Through a lawyer, Andrew Coffey, he pleaded not guilty on October 1. Iovino himself could not be reached for comment.
Iovino is clearly the patsy for Jenne and his crew. BSO rules require that all inmates wear seatbelts while traveling, a rule that has apparently been routinely ignored. On the day Osborne died, for instance, Newlin and Buck rode unbelted in the bed of the county pickup truck.
The loss to Osborne's family has been bitter. "He wasn't on death row," Osborne's nephew Jeffrey Taylor told the 'Pipe. "You're not supposed to die for a six-month possession charge.
"What is this indictment supposed to mean? One man is at fault but the Sheriff's Office did nothing wrong? I think they [BSO] were trying to show no ownership from the beginning."
Doron Chelminsky, 26, was surprised last month when this 'Pipe called to tell him his Thursday-night radio show, Abba to Zappa, was history. After all, it had been a mainstay on Nova Southeastern University's college station, Radio X (WNSU-FM, 88.5) for seven years.
The reason for the cancellation: He isn't a student or alumnus. And our favorite low-frequency station no longer allows those people access to the airwaves.
While there's long been talk about nixing certain shows, the 26-year-old Chelminsky says, the older DJs thought their positions were secure. "We were grandfathered in," he explains. "Nova used to be on cable radio, and when it went FM, they let us keep our shows. That was that.
"It's not like there's a shitload of students knocking at the door."
But Dr. Kate Waits, faculty adviser to the station, says an increasing number of university people -- students and alumni -- wanted to participate and that the university "can no longer justify these people [Chelminsky, etc...] taking advantage of student activities."
Indeed, as of September 30, not only Chelminsky but four others have gotten the boot. Vara Heyman, Mark Martin, Jason Bank, and Daren Nenortas, Waits confirms.
Comments station Manager Michelle Manley: "It's just unfair to students who pay activity fees and want a show."
Chelminsky says he gathered seven or eight dozen signatures supporting his show. "I got five fucking pages of names," he says. "They can't cancel me." Unfortunately, they can and did. On Thursday, September 25, at midnight, Chelminsky spun his final song, Jack Logan's "Fuck Everything." Before he left the building, the station gave him a plaque for "dedicated service."
"The best part," Doron laughs: "They spelled my fucking name wrong."
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