Florida Courthouse Employees Commit Crimes with “Alarming Regularity”
A local news station reported on March 29, 2016 that Joseph Safonte, 72, was placed on desk duty after becoming the target of an internal investigation into the theft of items from the lost and found at the courthouse in Broward County, Florida.
The veteran bailiff and president of the Broward Sheriff’s Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police was one of three people sanctioned during the investigation. Lisa Bouley, a civilian sheriff’s community service aide, also was assigned to desk duty. According to sources, a third person – an unnamed guard employed by private security contractor G4S – was terminated. The State’s Attorney’s office is reportedly reviewing the cases for possible criminal charges.
In the past year, two other former Broward County bailiffs received prison time. Garrett Cunningham was sentenced to 20 years following an incident in which he terrorized his wife, while Brian Preston received eight years for child pornography. In a separate incident in March 2016, bailiff Kendrick Busby was suspended without pay and jailed after being charged with the rape and attempted murder of a prostitute. Yet another Broward County bailiff, Steve Palacios, awaits trial for a felony charge of dealing in stolen property.
“It seems like with alarming regularity they’re [courthouse employees] caught up with sensational and scary allegations of serious crimes,” remarked attorney Bill Gelin, who maintains a blog about the Broward County courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.