Craig Jungwirth, owner of Beach Bear Weekend, spent 2016 in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Arrested and charged with posting social media messages of an impending attack on the Wilton Manors’ LGBT community, Jungwirth would eventually beat the rap when prosecutors could not prove a connection.
“I am disappointed they could not find enough evidence to proceed,” said Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.
Jungwirth, 50, was arrested Sept. 4 by the FBI in Orlando. He was extradited to Broward County where he faced charges of sending threatening messages via Facebook.
One of the more alarming posts attributed to Jungwirth read: “My events are selling out cause you faggots are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.” In another post, Jungwirth allegedly wrote, “I’m gonna be killing you fags faster than cops kill niggers. It’s time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”
Ultimately, federal investigators were not able to link the threats to any of the 59 Facebook profiles Jungwirth had access to. Prosecutors are barred from proceeding with a case where they do not believe they can prove the allegations in court.
Jungwirth was facing 10 to 16 years in federal prison if convicted.
"So he actually has to harm someone or do something more drastic to be prosecuted?," Wilton Manors resident Anthony Johnson said. "What's the point of having a political system in place if they let people back on the streets who threaten to take lives of others?"
Johnson, a health care advocate, said he has interacted with Jungwirth.
"I had my run in with this guy and, let me tell you, I would not put it past him to follow through with his threats," Johnson said.
Flippen said he had “brief contact” with Jungwirth when Jungwirth was promoting Beach Bear Weekend to the City of Wilton Manors. He said he did not feel intimidated by Jungwirth and described him as someone who “did not understand” the city’s role in special events.
One week after federal charges were dropped, Jungwirth, 50, pleaded guilty to two second-degree misdemeanors in Broward County. He was sentenced to a year’s probation, and ordered to undergo a mental health assessment.
Jungwirth had been held in Broward County Jail the past month for violating the conditions of his bond on charges of defrauding an innkeeper, having failed to complete a pretrial diversion program, and getting arrested on a new charge while out on bond on a pending case.
Represented by his counsel, Ron Baum, Jungwirth pleaded open before the Honorable Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren. She adjudicated him guilty on both cases, ordering him to serve two consecutive terms of six months’ probation, requiring he see a private psychologist or court licensed mental health expert, and fulfill whatever treatment plans they so outline.
In each of the two cases, the victim was an establishment owned by Wilton Manors’ entrepreneur Nick Berry. The first case, in 2015, dealt with Jungwirth’s absconding from the Courtyard Cafe without paying his full bill. A second unrelated charge of criminal mischief was filed in 2016 after Jungwirth defaced the windows at Rumors with paint. As a condition of his plea, Jungwirth will have to make nominal restitution to the establishment as well.
Additionally, the court ordered Jungwirth to have no contact with any of the businesses in person, via the internet or any means of social media. “You understand,” Judge Lerner-Wren told the defendant, “this is a critical part of this plea?” He answered, “Yes.” Weighing significantly less than the 280 pounds he had months ago, Jungwirth remained stoic and silent throughout the hearing, except to change his plea, admitting he was guilty, competent, and understood the terms and conditions of his sentence.
Within days after his release, local bear-community representatives have made public assertions that Jungwirth is back on the internet attempting to interfere with this year’s events. SFGN will cover the story as it unfolds.