1. Attorney Frank Excel Marley III was convicted yesterday. Paula McMahon explains:
A South Florida lawyer was found guilty Tuesday of stealing about $1.3 million from the Seminole Tribe of Florida in a fraud conspiracy that went on for several years.
Frank Excel Marley III, 39, of Southwest Ranches, was convicted of one count of wire and mail fraud conspiracy and six counts of theft from Indian tribal organizations after a jury trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. The jury found him not guilty of three other counts of theft from the tribe.
Prosecutors told jurors that Marley had submitted bills to the tribe – that were inflated by more than $1 million – in a conspiracy that went on between 2006 and 2011.
Marley, who has been free on bond since his arrest earlier this year, was released pending his sentencing on Feb. 21.
2. Curt Anderson has this interesting story about a blast from the past:
While we are thinking about old times, here's a good one from the Wire:Federal drug agents are investigating a Florida aircraft leasing business operated by two former champion race drivers who are suspected of providing airplanes to South American drug traffickers, according to court documents and interviews.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and Homeland Security Department raided the Fort Lauderdale offices Monday of World Jet Inc., which is controlled by brothers Don and Bill Whittington. They raced in the Indianapolis 500 and other tracks, teaming up with a third driver to win the France's 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1979.
Later, both brothers pleaded guilty for their roles in a $73 million marijuana smuggling ring that authorities said financed their racing careers.
Now, according to a DEA search warrant affidavit that relies on several confidential informants, the Whittingtons are suspected of illegally leasing aircraft from Florida to cocaine cartels and laundering drug-related profits through a hot springs resort hotel and a ranch in Colorado.
Mia Ro, a DEA spokeswoman in Miami, confirmed her agency is leading the investigation but declined to provide details. Agents were seen carrying boxes of records and other items from World Jet's offices at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Monday.
No charges have been filed. An employee at World Jet hung up Tuesday when telephoned for comment, and the Whittingtons did not respond to email messages. It wasn't clear if they had attorneys related to the DEA probe.
According to the DEA, World Jet leases or sells aircraft to drug traffickers in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Africa at inflated prices, keeping the plane under the Whittington name or that of a third party and maintaining a U.S. tail number. After a certain period, the aircraft is returned to World Jet.
"In the event that the aircraft is seized pursuant to a narcotics interdiction, both parties can deny responsibility and World Jet Inc. can reclaim the aircraft," the DEA said in the affidavit, filed in Colorado federal court.