Friday, August 20, 2010

Beware . . . You may not be as protected as you think

Two weeks ago I was in Judge Marc Lubet's courtroom when I heard something that left me somewhat stunned. An alleged sex offender, who was released prior to trial with GPS monitoring through a private company, Court Programs, fled to Honduras in March. As I inquired further, I learned that another alleged sex offender who was awaiting trial with GPS monitoring fled to Turkey in July.

Court Programs uses state-of-the-art technology from SecureAlert to track their clients. The units enable the SecureAlert monitoring center to verbally communicate directly with the client and establish a three-way call with the defendant's local officer. An exclusion/inclusion zone can be programmed, and real-time details about an offender's location delivered. The daily cost to the defendant ranges from $8 to $15.

GPS monitoring can be a win-win for all parties involved. The defendant, who is innocent until proven guilty, can maintain his/her job while awaiting trial. The victim is assured that the defendant's movements are being monitored. The taxpayers avoid having to pay approximately $85/day to house them at the jail.

But it's not a win-win if the monitoring company doesn't do its job and notify law enforcement and the Court when a defendant violates their conditions of pretrial release (or probation).

In talking with members of the court system, I received almost overwhelming approval of the job that Court Programs does. With the exception of occasional concerns about slow service in getting inmates set up with their devices on weekends, they do a good job in providing this much needed service.

The following two Orange County sex offenders have fled this country to avoid prosecution:

Lewis Lopez-Moya [Honduras]
Lewd/Lascivious Battery (2 counts)
Lopez-Moya's victim, whom he admitted to sexually assaulting, was 14 years old when the offenses occurred in November, 2009. He was granted bond in the amount of $10,000 by Judge Marc Lubet on 12/17/09, put on GPS monitoring through Court Programs, ordered to turn in his passport (which he did on 12/18/10), restricted to Orange County, ordered to have no contact with the victim, and had a curfew imposed. His conditions of release were modified in February, 2010 to permit daytime travel to surrounding counties for work purposes only.

On March 15, 2010, Lopez-Moya's defense attorney was permitted to withdraw from the case. "Irreconcilable differences" was cited as the reason.

On or about March 24, 2010, Court Programs lost contact with the defendant.  That same day, an Order to Take Into Custody was entered, citing that the defendant had knowingly or intentionally altered or tampered with the device. The bond was forfeited.

On March 25, 2010, the bondsman filed a motion to have the bond forfeiture rescinded, citing the failure of Court Programs to adequately notify the bondsman and the Court of defendant's having violated the terms of pretrial release as follows:
Pursuant to the CPI FL [Court Programs Inc, Florida] tracking records, for weeks upon weeks, the Defendant did not reside at [address], Orlando and had been breaching his curfew.  CPI never informed the surety [bondsman] of these breaches and never provided notice to this Honorable Court. As such, the Court's directed program in which the surety had to utilize and rely upon was in breach (emphasis mine).

Pursuant to the CPI FL tracking records, for long periods of time the Defendant's GPS tracker showed that the monitoring was "UNAVAILABLE." The signal for "UNAVAILABLE," usually signifies that the Defendant is or has been tampering with the GPS monitor. CPI FL and Court Programs Inc failed to not only inform the surety, but failed to take appropriate action against the Defendant in which they had been secured by this court to secure.
Attached to the motion was dozens of pages of tracking data, together with two maps that showed that the defendant traveled to Brevard County and was last "pinged" suspiciously close to the Melbourne International Airport.

A hearing was held in July and Judge Lubet granted the bondsman's motion to return the money to him.

Selami Duman [Turkey]
Solicitation of Minor via Computer; Travel to Meet Minor for Unlawful Act; Lewd/Lascivious Exhibition Using Computer (2 counts)
Duman is a Turkish citizen and was granted a $30,000 bond on June 16, 2010 by Judge Jeffrey Arnold. He was released two days later on GPS monitoring through Court Programs after surrendering his passport.

On July 1, 2010 a hearing on the defendant's motion to have his passport returned was denied. He faced deportation because his employment had been terminated as a result of the arrest and he was unable to obtain a new visa in order to seek employment.

On July 4, 2010 the GPS device either malfunctioned or it was disconnected.  It took Court Programs four days to notify the bondsman that they had lost track of the defendant.

On July 8, 2010, an order was drafted to have the defendant taken into custody.

On July 12, 2010 an Order to Take Into Custody was entered, citing that the defendant had allowed his device to power down on June 18th [this must be a typo on the paperwork - other documentation says it was July 4th] and that all attempts to contact him had failed.

The monitoring device was mailed back to Court Programs with a return address in Turkey.

These defendants either traveled on someone else's passport, used a forged a passport, or managed to secure a duplicate from their governments. We are curious to know how they got out of this country.


Chief Judge Belvin Perry issued Administrative Order 2008-27 on 12/31/08 that governs the use of GPS and SCRAM (alcohol) monitoring devices.  It does not specify a provider for these services.

Court Programs is a privately held company that provides the majority of GPS monitoring services in the county for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. A search of Orange County's Contracts & Purchasing Division records turned up no formal contract. CourtWatch has also been unable to locate a formal Memorandum of Understanding between them and the County, the Court or the Corrections Department.

We are concerned that there is little to no oversight of this company as it is tasked with monitoring some dangerous offenders in our community. While Court Programs has been very successful with nearly all of their clients, even being accused at times of being too aggressive in reporting infractions, two individuals accused of sex crimes against children will most likely never be held accountable for those crimes.

More attention to this matter is needed. Some believe that the Ninth Circuit is responsible for overseeing this matter. Others believe that the County Corrections should handle it. There is a gap somewhere that needs to be plugged. The citizens need to have more leverage and the ability to impose sanctions upon GPS providers when things go awry and our defendants go astray.


  1. Inexcusable fail by CPI. Inexcusable fail by bureaucrats without a contract. Who approved the checks for the Clown Programs, Inc.?

  2. Wow, this is such a hypocritical assessment of the company being blogged about. Maybe someone should look into the four years and over 3,ooo victims that have been protected by Court Programs. If this option was not available numerous amount of victims would have been placed in harms way. Let's make sure we have the facts before damaging a company's reputation that provides comfort to victims in our community.

  3. The assessment, I believe, is fair and impartial. Remember, I said that "In talking with members of the court system, I received almost overwhelming approval of the job that Court Programs does."

    A gap exists somewhere and it is CourtWatch's hope that Court Programs, SecureAlert and the Court System work to identify and correct it.

  4. Also occurs to me that electronic monitoring encouraged the bondsmen to be less attentive. Monitoring or not, bail should be high enough that the bondsman has an incentive to watch closely and go retrieve their skips.

  5. It has come to my attention that the facts in the above mentioned cases are not true. Just curious if you spoke with the company at any time to gather information??

  6. While there were obvious deficiencies concerning the monitoring company needed to address, the overall success of the system is worth placing heavy weight on. I think that it is equally important to know the limitations of this equipment as well as its abilities. There is always risk in releasing defendants in a pretrial enviornment. An ankle device will not stop someone who is predetermined to do any act. It does monitor activity. If there was a misinterpretation by the monitoring center watching the defendant, then this needs to be taken care of for sure. I do like the ideas of MOA's and other relational documents that place performance standards on companies, agencies, and organizations that provide for pubilc safety.

    In Alaska, we use Court Approved Third Party Custodians (CATPC) in conjunction with electroni monitoring, and other tools to ensure high-risk offenders or defendants are closely monitored. There are criminal penalties for CATPC's for failure to immediately report violations of conditions of release. Electronic Monitoring Companies are now broadly being established as CATPC's for the purposes of electronic monitoring and are subject to the same criminal penalties if they fail in their responsibility to the courts.

    I believe that levels of accountability in conjunction with oversight and perhaps national or state-level standards for electronic monitoring are all good remedies for the varying levels of competency for EM companies and service providers.

    HOW GROSS!!!!!!

  8. my teacher too. i seriously can not believe thats him, this goes against everything and all respect i had for him. some people are so hard to judge.

  9. He was my character education teacher.
    Not suprised.
    My school isn't too great at picking the best educators out of the lot.

  10. I found out about this over the summer, hoping it wasn't true. I feel sorry for his wife she was an amazing teacher.

  11. This ma last year was my character ed teacher and this is just do unbelievable!

  12. Can't believe a criminal from another country can come here and be able to get a job to teach our children!!! What happened to strict background check of ALL adults involved with our childrens education!!! HSA has let us down again!!! Hire Teacher who are clean and US citizens our kids deserve it!!! He was my sons teacher last year..and not a very good teacher anyway!!!