Letters for October 9, 2003
Big Jorge was done in by the mafia: I found Trevor Aaronson's October 2 story on Jorge Cortes ("Killer Scam") very interesting and informative... but I have a few questions. Did the detectives check for gun residue on Mr. Cortes' hand? If so, what were the results? Were the allegations true that Reginald Argentieri, Vincent Sagesse, and Richard Ferayorni were mobsters?
It is my opinion from reading the story that all these guys knew what time of day it was, including pretty boy Cortes. And I never heard a mom say, "My son did it." It's more like: "My son could never have done that; he is so sweet." It looks like pretty boy was trying to scam the mob and it turned ugly.
And are you doing a follow-up after the trial?
Boca's Indian babes: I thought Courtney Hambright's September 25 Night Court column, "A Boca Tale," was hysterical! My family and I just moved to Boca from Hollywood, where I grew up and have lived for more than 30 years. I know what you're saying about Boca, but there's a lot you missed. There are some great communities here for families with little kids, like my family.
A friend of mine who lives up here came up with a great word to describe those Boca women with the heavy New York smoker accents, tit jobs, nose jobs, too much makeup, latest/greatest cars, etc. These are the kind who make asses of themselves and stick out like sore thumbs wherever they go. Not the older folks you describe in your article but the ones in their 30s. We call 'em "Bocahontas" (rhymes with Pocahontas).
I laughed for days at that one! Anyway, keep up the good work!
Brite Side deserves better: I am writing in response to Jeff Stratton's review of the local band Brite Side (September 11), as well as bandmate Jason Knapfel's letter to the editor in the September 25 issue. I had the pleasure of listening to the Brite Side's CD a few weeks ago. It was the first time I'd heard the band, and I was moved by Jason Misrahi's thoughtful and (forgive me if I'm being "overearnest") powerful lyrics.
There is something to be said for a beautiful simple melody from a budding poet/musician who is clearly one of the most talented songwriters in South Florida. Likening Jason's songs to that of a boy band's is like comparing a cherry blossom to a dried-up maraschino cherry. I tend to think that anyone as indifferent to the pure expression of human emotion as Mr. Stratton must truly be handicapped.
Via the Internet
86 is no Al Capone: I just finished reading Eric Barton's September 18 article regarding the West Palm beach drug kingpin ("86ed"). I must commend him on seemingly very thorough research. Being a writer myself, I am aware of how trying it can be to obtain factual information for a story. But in this instance, even more, given that the sources and subjects mentioned were mostly drug dealers, vagrants, local police reports, and, of course, an ex-convict with no visiting rights. Very informative... but enough of that.
It is the conclusion that irked me for an hour after the article was thrown in an office recycling bin across the hall. I found the local government's method of prosecuting him to be disturbing. His girlfriend received money from a government agency and a substantially reduced sentence to testify against him. She was said to be such an upstanding citizen of Palm Beach County that she was pursuing an illustrious career as a drug addict and trafficking conspirator, all while being a mother of two children. Call me naive, but I never realized local officials could legally make payoffs and compensation to witnesses. I figured it more than likely went on but was never official policy. That is awful. It is one thing to pay an outside expert on a given subject for his testimony but something very different to offer money and negotiate with a convicted felon to compile testimony that probably has little credibility.
Then there is the matter of Don Fabio Ochoa. My criminal-justice course in college devoted an entire chapter to his cartel in Colombia. The conclusion of this story suggests the irony of Mr. Ochoa, an international cocaine importer extraordinaire, being issued a nearly identical sentence as the subject of the article. I certainly understand that selling drugs is selling drugs, regardless of whether the entrepreneur conducts business on the street corner selling rocks or owns submarines to achieve the same thing. That does not bother me. From the looks of Mr. 86, he is the type of guy I would want nothing to do with. And I am sure he is hardly an innocent victim. However, it seems he is hardly the 2003 Al Capone either.
Even when the New York State Attorney's Office brought in one of John Gotti's former associates as a star witness, the audiotapes compiled over the years by the FBI were needed as crucial evidence. He was on the tapes confessing to multiple crimes. That is what sealed a conviction. They could not simply expect the jury to believe the word of an accused felon with a rap sheet longer than the alphabet, and that baffles me. The bottom line is that law enforcement's ends are not a problem. The means are just baffling.
Via the Internet
Stop blaming the Indians: I just read Bob Norman's September 11 article ("Forgotten 9/11") and was shocked to learn that inspector Robert Wilson was the one who admitted Mohamed Atta in early 2001. Norman places a heavy blame on an individual whom I know and who is very competent and dedicated to border protection. The circumstances related to the admission of Atta on that date are unknown to me. But the amount of international passengers who are referred to secondary inspections has always been quite high (and is expectedly higher now). Individual inspectors are tasked with the difficult job of trying to determine a visitor's true intent. And that task was limited during pre-9/11 times by computer resources. Airline pressures also play a big part in passenger-processing procedures.
Your glorifying of Mr. Jose Touron as a "whistleblower" is a bit uninformed. I knew this inspector for many years, and he did follow the letter of the law, but in an unproductive way. He demanded details about elderly couples and families with small children regarding their home addresses and refused to process these passengers unless their immigration forms were filled out perfectly.
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