A county commissioner in his 70s has been immediately suspended by the governor following his arrest on multiple misdemeanors alleging prostitution. The commissioner, from Hernando County, reportedly wrote the governor and asked he be suspended effective July 17th – significant because that’s the day after which it would be too late to put his elected seat on the ballot this year. Gov. Rick Scott chose instead to remove him from the post right away.
The Miami Herald reports the commissioner was arrested for:
- One count operating a location for the purposes of lewdness, assignation or prostitution;
- Two counts purchasing services from a person engaged in prostitution.
Both of these are violations of different parts of F.S. 796.07, which prohibits prostitution and related acts. A first offense for any of this is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. But for many individuals, like this defendant, the problem is less about the jail time (though two months in jail could easily cost one his or her employment) or even the maximum $5,000 fine. The more troubling aspect is the permanent stain on his or her criminal record record.
For cases involving first-time offenders, our Fort Lauderdale prostitution defense attorneys will seek something known as adjudication withheld. We would only pursue this if the evidence in the case against a client was substantial enough that it would not be likely to have the charges dismissed outright. Florida law F.S. 948.01 grants judges a unique authority to withhold adjudication following the imposition of a probation sentence – without imposing upon the defendant the collateral consequences that usually comes with a conviction.
It’s not an option that’s available for all defendants. For instance, the DUI statute expressly prohibits it for that crime. It can’t be used in felony cases. Those who obtain it may wish to take it a step further and have their records sealed or expunged. Finally, the laws on sealing and expunction expressly prohibit removing certain offenses from the public record – regardless of whether adjudication was withheld. Some disqualifying acts include sexual assistant, robbery, manslaughter, kidnapping, child abuse, arson, elderly abuse and stalking.
In this case, the case against defendant began when police were called in reference to a domestic dispute between a husband and wife at commissioner’s home. During the investigation into this alleged altercation, it was revealed the pair were granted permission to live there by the owner, in exchange for allowing twice-weekly sexual encounters for which the commissioner allegedly paid. He also reportedly allowed the woman’s other clients paying for sex to use his home as a meeting spot – usually either in the garage or a car in the front driveway. The commissioner was arrested and released on $3,000 bail to await trial.
Defendant is also under a still-open investigation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into his alleged sex-for-hire relationship with another woman.
Both of the women with whom he was allegedly involved are employees at local adult dance clubs.
The governor is now free to appoint a new commissioner to that role at least until the next election in two years.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Florida politician paid to have sex with man’s wife on Tuesdays and Saturdays, cops say, April 20, 2018, By Barbara Behrendt, The Miami Herald
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