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West Palm Beach Officials Wrote Letters Requesting Murderer Be Freed From Prison

An unconscious Brooke Lennon was lying on the ground, his head a massive bloody wound. Lennon's young wife, Michelle, had smashed a baseball bat across his head. Her live-in boyfriend, Robert Tomassi, stood a short distance away, coaching Michelle on how to properly hold a bat for a more accurate strike.

Brooke had been drunk, so cracking him over the skull had been easy. The hard part was killing him. And the blood. All of the blood.

Tomassi instructed Michelle to cover Brooke's head with a plastic bag. That would keep the blood from seeping onto the floor. To keep the bag in place, Michelle tightened it with a telephone cord, wrapping it around the dying man's neck. She then squatted over her husband's limp, bloody body and sat on his chest. She punched and slapped his face, telling him to die already. She then stood up and kicked him in the testicles and kept shouting at him to die.

Michelle and Robert were eventually arrested and charged with murder. And in a tale that can unravel only in Florida, Palm Beach commissioners tried to get Michelle free by writing several letters to the New York state parole board.

According to a joint report by the Palm Beach Post and WPTV-News Channel 5, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell, and Commissioners Shanon Materio and Keith James all wrote letters on behalf of Michelle's adoptive father, a Palm Beach political heavyweight named Leonard Fintzy.

Michelle, who has been in prison since the gruesome murder took place in 1994, was up for parole, and Fintzy asked for the letters to be written as favors.

"I strongly recommend Michelle be released and allowed to live here in West Palm Beach," Muoio wrote in a letter obtained by WPTV dated August 16, 2013.

Another letter reads that Michelle "has been the subject of many conversations over the years" and that "We -- the collective we -- are ready to embrace Michelle and feel she will thrive with our collective guidance."

In yet another letter, the parole board is told that Michelle would have a job waiting for her in West Palm Beach upon release, offered by restaurateur Rodney Mayo, who owns Respectable Street, Howley's Diner, and other venues.

Fintzy is known as a political big dog who controls the powerful and influential CityWatch PAC. A CityWatch endorsement is gold to any politician seeking election, particularly in parts of West Palm Beach's affluent community.

According to the report, the letters came to light recently when Keith James, who is running against Fintzy for city commission, apparently tried to bring Michelle's case into light by requesting the city for correspondence that mentioned Fintzy or "Michelle Fintzy"

Fintzy and his wife released a statement last week saying that they were "shocked and deeply hurt that Commissioner Keith James has chosen to stoop to the lowest of low by authorizing his campaign staff to politicize our family's personal tragedy for his personal political gain."

For his part, James denies requesting the letters as a campaign tactic, chalking it up to good old fashioned campaign research.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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