How often do suspects charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman do you think in their first appearance before a judge is released on their own recognizance without so much as having to post a bond?
Almost never, but it happened in Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley's courtroom on September 15.
Hurley gave the rather extraordinary break to 43-year-old George Shahood, who allegedly threw a glass vase full of flowers at his pregnant fiancé, missed her, and then struck her in the abdomen with a "toy wagon" that was also filled with flowers.
Shahood lists his place of employment as the Department of Children and Families in Palm Beach County. A December 2009 issue of the DCF newsletter CPI Informer indicates that Shahood works as a child protection investigator.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Shahood is also the son of former Broward Circuit Judge George Shahood, who retired in 2008 as chief judge of the Fourth District of Appeal. His attorney is (as if you had to ask) the politically connected David Bogenschutz, one of Judge Hurley's campaign supporters and contributors.
Was this preferential treatment?
"That's ridiculous," Hurley told me on the phone this morning. "I treat everybody the same."
The judge ended the phone call before I could get any more questions in, but Florida law wouldn't seem to back up Hurley's decision on Shahood. In short, it's just not supposed to happen.
Aggravated battery is classified as a "dangerous crime" under Florida law, which says, "No person charged with a dangerous crime shall be granted nonmonetary pretrial release at a first appearance hearing."
Sounds cut and dried, but the sentence continues: "... however, the court shall retain the discretion to release an accused on electronic monitoring or on recognizance bond if the findings on the record of facts and circumstances warrant such a release."
In Hurley's order, he makes no note of such a finding.
"The Court orders the defendant to be ROR'd on this case. The case also orders that the defendant have no contact with the alleged victim."
I have a call into Bogenschutz and will update with any pertinent information.
In other news, the wealthy Von Allmen family may have lost tens of millions of dollars in investments that went into the Scott Rothstein Ponzi scheme, but that hasn't stopped him from hooking up with a man who was connected to one of the largest frauds in U.S. history. See the details inside after the jump.
Doug and Linda Von Allmen are holding a fundraiser at their Fort Lauderdale mansion for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott -- whose former firm, Columbia/HCA, was responsible for the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history. Attendance at the VIP reception will only cost you $10,000. Some people never learn, hey?
Here's the text of the invite:
PLEASE SAVE THE DATE
for a reception honoring
Florida's Next Governor
and the Republican Party of Florida
Thursday, October 7, 2010
$10,000 (Personal or Corporate contribution)
Made payable to Republican Party of Florida
$500 (Personal or Corporate Contribution)
Made Payable to Rick Scott for Governor
VON ALLMEN RESIDENCE
9 ISLE BAHIA DRIVE
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA