OpEd: Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Officers in tactical gear sweep the airport terminal at FLL. Credit: Ozzt Sanchez.

On November 7, 2016, a former Army reservist walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, to report, “his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency.”

His name was Esteban Santiago, and he claimed the government was controlling his mind and making him watch ISIS videos. He was brought to a mental health facility, and discharged a month later, given back a 9-millimeter gun he had surrendered.

Five days ago, that same man flew to Fort Lauderdale from Alaska, and upon picking up his luggage, retrieved that same gun, and using that same weapon, promptly shot five people to death in that terminal.

One elderly victim was a gentle grandmother from Council Bluffs, Iowa, a small, lovely town. Her life came to an end as she bent down to pick up her luggage for a cruise she and her husband were going to sail on within hours. Instead, a funeral to plan, and agonizing questions to ask.

You ask how?

It’s simple, really. Too many things in our life don’t work anymore.

Take Craig Jungwirth, who is likely to get out of jail this week, with virtually no legal or judicial supervision. Surprised? Don’t be. It’s your legal system at work.

How is it that the federal government, for all its skill set, can’t seem to prove Jungwirth actually authored online posts threatening to exterminate gays in South Florida?

You mean that the entire investigative arm of the FBI and the US Justice Department can’t figure out how one wacko threatened the entire LGBT community of South Florida? No wonder teenagers in the Ukraine are hijacking American computers.

Jungwirth’s was facing 12 to 18 months in jail on federal charges, but wound up in county court charged with stiffing a restaurant for a ten-dollar fee, and spray painting graffiti on a window of a local bar. Having already spent 128 days in the county jail for two second-degree misdemeanors, his time was maxed out. There was not much more the court could do.

A year’s worth of unsupervised probation with counseling as required was about as good as we were going to get. It seems that county probation does not provide for electronic monitors, though the court wanted one. It seems that county probation does not even have the authority to transfer non-residential probationers to another county, though the court sought the same. It seems like nothing works anymore the way it should.

As SFGN has revealed in multiple stories over the past year, Mr. Jungwirth is a warning sign of a car that has lost its brakes. Even before making an online terroristic threat to commit an “Orlando Pulse like massacre” in South Florida, he had created for himself a judicial history of mental instability.

Mr. Jungwirth’s past is pockmarked by accusations made against him by numerous parties for stalking and threats of violence. Various courts and jurists in a number of states and different jurisdictions over the past four years have issued sanctions against him.

Not surprisingly, a new request for yet another restraining order is now pending against Jungwirth in Broward County. A local businessman is accusing him of threatening him and sabotaging his business. It’s that one pending case that is now holding Jungwirth in jail on what the law calls a “writ of bodily attachment.”

There are actually more victims of Jungwirth than the one complaining, but they are afraid to come forward. These accosted persons are intimidated and scared, because of his past, erratic conduct. You can sympathize of course, but to stop a dragon, somebody has to pick up the sword.

Mr. Jungwirth’s has caused some havoc in South Florida. Last year, his deliberate conduct enabled him to sabotage the popular ‘Beach Bear Weekend’ by falsifying contracts and promoting non-existent events with venues that knew nothing of his representations. Mr. Jungwirth has even sued nightclubs for revenues in out-of -county courts based on spurious invoices he created for his falsified Beach Bear parties.

Imagine this: these businesses, including four local nightclubs, now have to hire legal counsel to defend themselves against moronic lawsuits against them in another county, because of Jungwirth’s transparent abuse of the legal system. His suits have one major implication, though, if the Orange County clerk of courts or chief prosecutor is listening. I hope they are.

Every lawsuit Jungwirth filed was paid for with checks that have bounced and not been made good. Writing bad checks is a crime, and frankly, in this case, an excuse for Orlando to prosecute Jungwirth anew, giving another jurisdiction an additional bite at the apple to impose some sort of continuing supervision over him. Let them know.

While check-kiting charges may seem minor, Jungwirth knew exactly what he was doing. He consciously went into an Orange County courthouse and paid a filing fee to sue a licensed alcoholic beverage establishment from Broward County on a frivolous and specious claim. That’s not indicative of mental illness. It’s a conspiratorial and sophisticated attempt to sabotage a legitimate business with legal chicanery. Maybe he is not ill. Maybe he is just mendacious. I don’t know; I am not a doctor.

Still, in sentencing Mr. Jungwirth for his criminal mischief charge last week, the court declined to require him to pass a competency examination before accepting the plea. That’s a shame, because there was sufficient evidence, based on the cumulative things he is alleged to have done, to suggest all his croutons may not be in the salad.

A court ordered psychological evaluation could be used in determining whether to even accept a plea from a potentially compromised defendant. A thorough report from a psychologist could have provided a little bit of insight into his aberrant behavior and misguided conduct over the past year. Maybe that report might even propose a line of treatment.

Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren did order Mr. Jungwirth to go to a private psychiatrist or mental health center and “complete whatever treatment they so required.” Please, whom are we kidding? There have been too many mass shootings by troubled souls who had voices talking to them in the night, making them do crazy things in the daytime.

The truth is painful. America’s mental health system does not work as well as we would like. The best we can hope for is Jungwirth does not wind up seeing the same doctors Esteban Santiago met with last November.

As of this date, unlike Mr. Santiago, Mr. Jungwirth has not killed anyone. But the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. And we do know this man has physically threatened some and intimidated others.

We do know that if something new happens no one is going to care whether he was mentally challenged, emotionally compromised, or just an evil man.

We are all just going to ask why don’t things work anymore.

Why don’t they?


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