Jim Lewis wants to be a Fort Lauderdale commissioner and is running for a seat in the upcoming election. Lewis thinks he deserves your trust.
He should think again -- and so should you.
Lewis is an attorney who I have seen undercut justice time and time again with one of his most reliable clients, Gina Marie Marks. You might remember her name. She's the Gypsy fraud artist who published a bogus book with Harper Collins under the name of Regina Milbourne. Marks has been running around ripping off her clients for years -- and every time she gets caught, Jim Lewis comes to the rescue.
Lewis offers to pay the victims so long as they refuse to prosecute. Amazingly, police and prosecutors from California to Plantation allow her to get away with it. They just write it off as the Gypsy way.
But it's not the American way -- and all it does is ensure that Gina Marie Marks will victimize more unsuspecting people in the future, scamming them out of their savings.
It's ludicrous. But it's happening as we speak. Jim Lewis is trying to pay off Marks' latest victims. The Broward Sheriff's Office arrested Marks for allegedly ripping off five women in December. The case may never have come to be without private investigator Bob Nygaard, who helped the victims get through the process.
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Now Nygaard is watching the wheels of justice fall off. Lewis and another attorney, Michael Orenstein, are offering restitution to the victims in exchange for the charges being dropped. And Assistant State Attorney Tammany Donald "T. Don" Tenbrook, who is overseeing the case, may or not play ball.
Nygaard, for one, believes the practice of paying off victims in leiu of prosecution is a miscarriage of justice -- and the Pulp agrees wholeheartedly. I've had victims of Marks cry over the phone to me, telling me how helpless they feel. Authorities become involved. Then Lewis negotiates a payoff. A couple months later, another victim of Marks calls in tears. Every time that Lewis negotiates a payout for Marks, it only guarantees that someone else will soon be in a world of pain. And the authorities play along like this is okay. It's not. Nygaard is particularly passionate about the obvious injustice.
"Jim Lewis refuses to accept money in his campaign because he suggests that money buys influence and he is quoted as stating that an election should not be bought, yet in hhis capacity as a defense attorney, he has repeatedly helped Gina Marie Marks influence alleged crime victims to release her from any future civil or criminal liability by negoatiating monetary payments ... in effect buying their silence," Nygaard told the Pulp. "In regards to the five current alleged victims of Gina Marie Marks, Jim Lewis was quoted in the Sun-Sentinel on January 9 as saying, 'There will be restitution, so this case is just about resolved." Judging from his statement, it appears that Jim Lewis under the impression that paying off victims is a sufficient remedy for the purported criminal acts that his client allegedly committed against these five women. What Jim Lewis adeptly doesn't mention is that per our system of justice, society is the victim in criminal prosecutions and individual victims do not have the right nor the authority to bargain away society's right to hold an alleged criminal accountable for his or her actions."
Think about this, Fort Lauderdale voters, when you go to the polls on February 10.