Our primary focus is domestic violence, sexual assault & child abuse. However, going to Court on any given day is a lot like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.
This morning I had 2 young ladies from Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity at UCF come to court for their on-the-job training as volunteers. We happened upon a bond motion in Judge Davis' courtroom for a defendant named John Pavao (case 2008CF19171). He is charged with RICO, Racketeering, Fraud & Theft (12 counts combined). The judge assigned the public defender to represent him on a Bond Reduction Motion because he was found to be indigent. The public defender, William Hancock, was given 5-10 minutes to prepare (having never seen the case before), and did a commendable job. The defendant is accused of having stolen $6M in real estate from people. He was in custody on a $1.5M bond. One charge relates to his having an 80+ year old victim sign some papers that deeded her paid-for house over to him. She had turned to him for a small loan to pay the taxes. Her house is now being foreclosed on because he allegedly "skimmed the equity" she had.
The judge granted the bond reduction to $21K (barely more than 1% of the original bond amount!), ordered that he surrender his passports, be put on GPS monitoring and prohibited him from engaging in the buying or selling of real estate while this case is pending. So he goes home to his house in Windermere (which is being foreclosed on) to await trial. The case is very complex and will likely take 2 weeks to try (and it'll likely be several months before it gets to trial). His wife, daughter, and two other individuals are co-defendants.
After I heard the details on this one victim, I was angry that this (alleged) thief will be out soon. In spite of the compelling testimony presented by the State's investigator, the judge is granting what I think is a ludicrously low bond amount. The defendant is also wanted in Massachusetts and has ties to Portugal. Maybe the fact that his wife ($1.5M bond) & 22-yr old daughter ($1.5M bond) are still in jail will keep him in town. I hope the victim(s) in this case get their day in court.
3/31/09 Update: http://www.wftv.com/news/19047449/detail.html
Pavao's daughter has a bond motion scheduled for 4/1 at 10:30am in front of the same judge. Pavao posted bond on Friday 3/27 but is being held on a warrant from Massachusetts.