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Missing Florida teens: Families agree to send teen's iPhone to Apple

by: Lulu Ramadan, Palm Beach Post Updated: Apr 29, 2016 - 2:30 PM

Update: The families of two Tequesta, Florida teens lost at sea have agreed to send an iPhone found in March to Apple for analysis, said the judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by the family of Perry Cohen.


Guy Rubin on CBS-12

 Guy Rubin, Cohen's attorney, speaks to reporters outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse on April 25, 2016.

Guy Rubin, Cohen's attorney, speaks to reporters outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse on April 25, 2016.

Parents of Perry Cohen want Austin's iPhone analyzedBY GREG ANGEL MONDAY, APRIL 25TH 2016

WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) — The parents of Perry Cohen, one of the two teenagers who disappeared in July 2015 during a fish trip, met Monday morning with their attorney and the State Attorney's office.

Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos, both 14 at the time, were last seen July 24, 2015, on a boat leaving the Jupiter Inlet, heading out to sea.

Pamela Cohen, Perry's mother, says a recently found iPhone belonging to Austin could hold crucial information into know what led to their disappearance.

Pamela Cohen filed a complaint. It calls for the "emergency preliminary injunction to prevent the spoilation of evidence," in the investigation.

Mark Rubin on WOKV: Latitude 360 suddenly closes its doors

 Latitude 360 closes its doors.

Latitude 360 closes its doors.

By Sarah Thompson

Jacksonville, FL — 

With chains on the door and a sign thanking Jacksonville for five amazing years, Latitude 360, a popular entertainment complex near the Avenues Mall, suddenly closed their doors late Wednesday night.

While employees tell WOKV they had no idea this was coming, the company has been facing its fair share of problems in recent months.

The landlord of the Southside property has been trying to evict Latitude 360 since October, claiming they owed about millions in construction costs, overdue rent, and late fees. Employees also claim they haven't been getting paid on a regular basis.

We spoke with WOKV's legal analyst Mark Rubin about the sudden closure, and he tells us if you're a member of Latitude 360 you may or may not get your money back.

"Unless, there was an agreement to honor the membership by the new owners, those people who've already paid for memberships have probably lost their money," Rubin says.  

It seems to be a similar story if you've prepaid to hold a future event at Latitude 360, like a birthday party.

Rubin says, "It's unlikely that a new owner would honor that, because those funds would have been paid for services that there's no money to pay for now."

And Jacksonville isn't the only city Latitude 360 has experienced problems.  Back in December, the company was forced to close their location in Indiana, supposedly for tax issues.

Their location in Pittsburgh also had a close call in December, where the owner reportedly arrived with cashier checks to pay on an overdue county tax, just moments before police placed locks on the doors.

A new ownership group is expected to arrive in Jacksonville soon.

Couple wins $7 million verdict from son’s death at Palms West

Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH — A Port St. Lucie couple has been awarded $7 million by a Palm Beach County jury that found a doctor at Palms West Hospital was negligent in the 2011 death of their 15-year-old son.

Testimony during a roughly two-week trial before Circuit Judge Donald Hafele this month showed that the death of Gregory Fils-Aime was preventable had he received appropriate treatment from Dr. Alberto Marante, said attorney Guy Rubin, who represents the boy’s parents, Jean and Ermeline Fils-Aime.

Healthy and active with a talent for basketball, the youth was transferred to Palms West from Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in St. Lucie County after he repeatedly suffered trouble breathing. While he initially was sent home, he returned to Palms West two weeks later and his condition worsened.

While Dr. Lon Barrow, an ears, nose and throat specialist, had arranged for the youth to be transferred to Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center for treatment of a rare, but curable, condition that causes air passageways to constrict, Marante intervened.

Marante decided to perform an emergency procedure in the boy’s room, Rubin said. He sedated Fils-Aimee and put a mask over his mouth that was equipped with a device to pump air into his lungs, he said. However, because the youth’s airway was constricted to the size of a cocktail straw, the air became trapped in his lungs.

Once the mask was removed, body fluids rushed into his lungs. The sedative relaxed his neck muscles, making it impossible for him to breath.

“The doctors who tried to save his life said the effect of the sedative was irreversible,” Rubin said. “It was basically a death spiral.”

Attorneys representing Marante weren’t immediately available for comment about whether they would appeal. The hospital also paid the couple $650,000 to settle the parents claims, according to state records.

The verdict, Rubin said, was bittersweet for the parents, who have two younger daughters. “They are pleased that justice was done,” he said. “It was a positive closure to a horrible situation.”

If the verdict stands, he said they hope to use the money to help other children, he said. “They just want to see young people do well,” Rubin said.

Ellis Rubin Remembered by Florida Pastor

Florida pastor Jim Merritt got the birthday gift of a lifetime on Jan. 1 when a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex marriages anywhere in the state.

The ruling went into effect on Jan. 6, and Merritt celebrated the day by opening the doors of Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church, where he is senior pastor, to perform free ceremonies. With the help of his fellow church clergy, Merritt oversaw 20 same-sex marriages, in addition to marrying his longtime partner, Al Leach.

"It was the best birthday gift I could have gotten," Merritt told The Huffington Post. "Al and I have been together in a committed relationship for over 20 years... For us to achieve marriage equality at home was a joyful occasion."

Holy Cross was decorated for the occasion and a local organization catered a reception that ran from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Merritt, who leads his denomination's marriage equality efforts around the globe, said the church hoped to provide a "normal" wedding experience while accommodating as many couples as possible. Many invited friends and family to attend, and some even stayed for the other ceremonies just to "be a part of this historic moment," the pastor said.

The ruling was particularly potent in a state that has had a long, uphill battle for marriage equality. In the 1970s, singer Anita Bryant publicly headed the Save Our Children campaign which fought to overturn a state ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. Her campaign won with 69 percent of the vote.

But in 2004, Merritt and Leach sued Orange County Clerk of Courts Lydia Gardner for denying them a marriage license and were represented by none other than Ellis Rubin -- the same attorney who had represented Bryant back in the 70s.

"He told me it his was his opportunity to do penance for his sins," Merritt told HuffPost.

Craig Kovaleski: Vero Beach father falsely charged with child abuse sues sheriff, arresting deputy

  Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar

By: Lamaur Stancil, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A father proven to have been falsely charged with child neglect has filed a lawsuit, according to the U.S. District Court's Southern District.

The $75,000 lawsuit lists Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar and Deputy Michael Cavanaugh as the defendants. Stuart attorney Guy Rubin said his client, Craig Kovaleski, was taken into custody by Cavanaugh on a false charge of child neglect after the deputy entered the home without cause Oct. 10, 2013.

The State Attorney's Office dropped the child neglect charge and Cavanaugh was suspended for 60 hours following a Sheriff's Office internal affairs review. The investigation concluded that Cavanaugh lied in his report about the encounter with Kovaleski. Surveillance cameras at Kovaleski's home verified his account, investigators concluded.

Attorney Guy Rubin Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Sheriff for Fabricated Arrest, Perjury on Behalf of Vero Businessman

Deputy Found Guilty in internal Affairs Probe but Receives Slap on Wrist.  

A Vero Beach financial consultant filed a civil rights lawsuit yesterday against Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar and Deputy Sheriff Michael Cavanaugh. The suit details how Deputy Cavanaugh illegally entered Craig Kovaleski’s home and arrested him for child neglect for letting his children play outside his house unsupervised.

Cavanaugh arrested Mr. Kovaleski on the spot, in his house, and then led him out of his own house in handcuffs in front of his children, both under 5 years old.

Cavanaugh then falsified police reports and gave perjured testimony in court to support his arrest. But little did he know, Mr. Kovaleski installed video cameras weeks before to bolster security in his home, which showed Cavanaugh’s sworn arrest affidavits and his testimony in court were false. Video from the home proves the kids were inside the home when he invaded the property without the knowledge or permission of Mr. Kovaleski.

According to Kovaleski’s attorney, Guy Bennett Rubin:  “The conduct of this law enforcement officer is shocking. If not for the video, Mr. Kovaleski could be in prison and could have lost the right to be a parent to his kids. This kind of rogue policing is bad for law enforcement and bad for citizens. How can we trust the testimony of law enforcement if they blatantly lie after taking the oath?”

The lawsuit stems from an Oct. 10, 2013, incident in which Kovaleski’s estranged wife, who had made false claims before, called 911 and reported Kovaleski was intoxicated and asleep, leaving their two children alone in the home.  In actuality, Kovaleski had just ordered pizza, invited his mother over for lunch, and set the children up in the family loft to watch a movie. 

Nevertheless, Cavanaugh was dispatched to Kovaleski’s home as a result of the 911 call and entered the Kovaleski property without permission by entering a gate code provided by the estranged wife. After Cavanaugh entered the home illegally, Kovaleski walked into the hall where Cavanaugh stood to find out what was going on. Cavanaugh shoved him against a wall and told him he was under arrest for child neglect.  Then, in front of Kovaleski’s two young children, Cavanaugh placed the father into the back of the police car.  Kovaleski spent a day and night in jail before posting bail, and then had his photo displayed in local media as charged with child neglect, all based on Cavanaugh swearing he saw Kovaleski asleep and had to physically awaken him.  The video proves Cavanaugh never saw Kovaleski anywhere except in his front hall where Kovaleski confronted him.

Once the state attorneys’ office found out about the video proving Cavanaugh fabricated the basis for arresting Kovaleski, it dropped the charges and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internal investigation of Cavanaugh.  But shockingly, even though the investigation determined Cavanaugh had engaged in falsifying official records and knowingly made false or untrue statements in the performance of his duties, Cavanaugh received a only a 5 day suspension.

“It’s amazing that a deputy found guilty of lying under oath was not only given a slap on the wrist, he is still working for the Indian River Sheriff and can falsify charges against other innocent citizens.  What does it take to get fired?”  - Guy Bennett Rubin

Case Name:        

Kovaleski v. Cavanaugh et al

Case No:              2:14-CV-14501-XXXX

Compensating Wrongly Convicted James Richardson

Imagine being sent to death row for poisoning your seven children knowing you were innocent. That's what happened to James Richardson in the small town of Arcadia (90 miles southwest of Tampa), in 1968. Now, after nearly 40 years, Richardson is fighting to be compensated for his wrongful conviction

Fruit picker James Richardson went to death row in 1968 for allegedly poisoning his seven children. In the late 1980s high profile attorney Ellis Rubin started questioning the conviction.

Ellis Rubin (December 1998) "This case will illustrate what racism was in Florida in 1967."