The Dirty Dozen of 2006
Another year, another milestone. Another moment to reflect on all the sneaks, cheats, felons, and freaks who help make Broward and Palm Beach the fabulous fricassee that it is. The New Times Dirty Dozen of 2006 includes a make-believe doctor with a taste for boobs, a nationally known talk-show smackdown artist, and an ex-congressman who may have had more to do with the Republican election debacle in November than any other living soul. It's an eclectic group, all right. There are two mayors, two city commissioners, two billionaire financiers. There's a gypsy con artist, a low-rent radio personality, and a member of professional baseball royalty whose behavior has been so egregious that he's made our list three out of the past four years.
What ties them all together as brothers and sisters of the list is a special quality. Call it South Florida arrogance. Like (the thinking goes), I'm so important (or rich, powerful, or cool) that I can marry my daughter or displace an entire community or use my authority as a public official to scare up some business for myself. Or how about scaring superstitious old ladies out of their wits with "curses" or glomming onto teenaged boys with lewd propositions? Or jacking up a porn princess for a freebie sex show or turning your Palm Beach mansion into your own personal brothel? Do it, dude.
Anything is possible; any crime is doable. You can have it all. Wheeee. And believe us, it's all been tried in Broward and Palm Beach. Here are this year's dozen, each rated between one and ten on the Dirt Meter, with ten being the dirtiest:
Ann Coulter The right-wing talk-show diva likes to throw her weight around. In February, she decided to vote in a Palm Beach town council election, though the address on her registration card didn't correspond to the polling place. Coulter then presented herself at a site near her real estate agent's home and used a bogus address to vote. Called out on it, she accused local officials of being confused because "the syphilis has gone to their brains." Of course, rules don't apply to blowhards of bombast. DM reading: 6 (It's up to the talk shows to shut Ms. Attitude down.)
Bubba the Love Sponge The Tampa satellite radio personality lured our own Brooke Skye, Fort Lauderdale's little princess of porn, onto his radio show, where she was allegedly assaulted by another porn star with a nine-inch strap-on dildo. The parasitic Sponge played the on-air impresario, directing the action, allegedly coercing cooperation with threats. Brooke is suing. DM reading: 7 (Stomach-turningly ugly but just doing what sponges do.)
Jeffrey Loria You remember the team owner who, within months of watching his Marlins win the World Series, dismantled the team and auctioned off his star players. Then he tried to move the whole kit and caboodle to another city. This year, he rewarded team Manager Joe Girardi for taking the majors' youngest and lowest-paid team to a respectable record, within haling distance of the playoffs, by firing him. Girardi got Manager of the Year. Loria got the scorn of Marlins fans. DM reading: 6 (Managers are interchangeable with dartboards.)
Philip Winikoff The oily 76-year-old Coconut Creek man went door to door in Lauderdale Lakes, posing as a doctor and performing actual breast examinations on gullible women. After talking his way into the house, victims reported, he'd ask them to strip for a full, palpating exam. He eventually got busted. Could it have been the heavy breathing that gave him away? DM reading: 6 (Run-of-the-mill creep with the gift of imagination.)
Regina Milbourne Actually a gypsy fortuneteller named Gina Marie Marks, Milbourne is known in law enforcement circles for allegedly convincing gullible women to turn over large piles of cash, supposedly freeing them of terrible, life-threatening curses. Now, after landing a book deal with recently fired publisher Judith Regan, she's trying to clean up her act. On the talk-show circuit, she presents herself as the warm-hearted, advice-dispensing author of Miami Psychic, a kind of visionary Dr. Phil. DM reading: 8 (A viper in author's clothing.)
Al Capellini It wasn't enough that Al, mayor of Deerfield Beach, got an underling to ask an employee for a date for him. (Yech.) Nor that he repeatedly excused himself to take a leak every time a vote affecting his engineering firm came up rather than announce his conflict of interest. (Flush.) No, what put Al on this list were revelations in this publication that he'd used his influence with city officials in Pompano Beach to help a former cocaine kingpin get a liquor license for a nightclub. What a pal, that mayor Al. (Sniff. ) DM reading: 8 (Nail the furniture down Al's around.)
John Bertino Don't cross the Dania Beach commissioner. Above all, don't beat him out of a parking spot. When a citizen made the mistake of pulling into a parking spot ahead of Bertino at Grampa's Bakery in his home city, Bertino allegedly surreptitiously gouged a streak in the man's car with his key. In broad daylight, in full view of a state attorney general. Bad behavior? Yes. Criminal stupidity? Absolutely. DM reading: 7 (For the troubling idea that he can break the law with impunity.)
Michael Brown Build it and they will come. Er, make that, "Send an entire community packing, then build it, and... " well, you know. The Riviera Beach mayor personally promoted a huge eminent-domain plan to allow developers free access to valuable beachfront property, favoring big-time developers over his own constituents. Using his status as a nonvoting mayor, Brown has also lobbied for a city contract, then (you gotta admire the brashness) taken a cut of the profits. DM reading: 8 (A shark among fishes.)
Mark Foley Congress' best-known chicken hawk and Boca's erstwhile favorite son, Foley was exposed when some teenaged congressional pages started circulating copies of his lewd e-mails, asking, for example, about the size of their members and their masturbation techniques. You wanted congressional oversight of the Bush administration? Thanks largely to Foley, you might get it this year from a Democratic-majority Congress. DM reading: 9 (Classic fox guarding the page dorm.)
Keith Wasserstrom The former Hollywood commissioner set high marks for ballsiness. He nailed down a job as a consultant for a waste disposal company, then openly used the prestige of his commission seat to pitch the company's services to various cities, including his own. The result: potential big payoffs for himself and his pals and, oops, an indictment for felony corruption. DM reading: 7 (Operating as much on reckless, terrier-like friskiness as personal greed.)
Jeffrey Epstein The billionaire money manager has been charged with soliciting the services of underaged prostitutes in his Palm Beach mansion. Epstein allegedly liked 'em young. Money bought the girls' services, but it didn't keep them from talking about it afterward. Testimony included anecdotal information about the odd look of Epstein's egg-shaped member. DM reading: 7 (Idle-rich slacker who can't get a date.)
Bruce McMahan The Fisher Island hedge-fund manager is known as a ruthless man, determined to have his way no matter what the rest of the world opines. In recent years, McMahan's way has included a sexual relationship with his own daughter, with whom he exchanged marriage vows in an impromptu ceremony at Westminster Abbey. It all fell apart in a welter of legal recriminations. But not before daughter Linda blew the whistle in court documents. DM reading: 10 (His daughter? Hands down the dirtiest.)
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