Broward News

Judge Skolnik Campaign Controversy Now Includes Allegation of Death Threat

A local website designer, Stephen Smith, has filed a police report in which he accuses Broward Judge Peter B. Skolnik of cheating him out of his fee and a campaign volunteer of threatening murder. 

That looks like it won't be the last police report. A volunteer with Skolnik's campaign says the judge may soon file a complaint against Smith for harassment and for damages arising from Smith's seizing of Skolnik's campaign web domains.

Most of what's detailed in Smith's police report has been posted here already, but it contains a more vivid description of a July 4 meeting that allegedly occurred between Skolnik, a campaign volunteer (and local attorney) Douglas Harrison, and Smith. According to Smith the two demanded he turn over photographs they believed would be harmful to Smith's campaign. When he refused, says Smith: "Harrison then stated (to Smith) 'We are going to kill you if you don't give them up.'"

I've spent more than an hour talking to Smith about his disagreement with Skolnik, but it's the first time I've heard this allegation.

A moment ago, I reached Harrison for comment. But after I introduced myself -- and before I could ask about the alleged death threat -- he said "No thank you" and hung up.

Another volunteer for the Skolnik campaign, Evelio Medina, offered a more wide-ranging interview. He said that neither he nor the judge has any idea what photographs Smith is talking about, nor do they care if Smith goes public with them. "If he has them, show them," says Medina. "We're not scared."

Medina says that he's spent over an hour on the phone with Smith, trying to reach an amicable resolution to the dispute, unsuccessfully.

"We don't want to take this to the next level," says Medina. "We don't want to file a police report. We don't want to get an injunction against this guy. All we want to do is sit down and settle this -- show us what you've done, and if it's a $1,000 job, then we'll write you a check for $1,000."

Medina says that Smith's refusal to have that sort of meeting suggests Smith may be working for a Skolnik opponent or that he has a mental illness.

Whatever the case, it's clear from the police report that Smith feels threatened. This is from the last paragraph in the report, filed by an Officer Gowans:

While speaking with Smith he asked me if I had a camera in my vehicle. Smith advised me he was scared people were out to get him. Smith advised me he did not want me to record our conversation and give it to Skolnik. Smith also advised me that on 7/4/10 he saw several FLPD officers driving around the area and felt that FLPD was protecting Skolnik and was on his side.

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Thomas Francis