In the past five years, SFGN has covered a number of criminal cases involving gay men accused of criminal activity.
Here’s an update on some them.
Michael Anguille - The former SFGN reporter won an acquittal on a DUI charge in 2013, but he apparently did not learn much of a lesson. Earlier this year, he was charged with possession of cocaine, and while out on bond, allegedly became intoxicated while driving, and is accused of paralyzing a woman. He is now in jail and awaiting trial on multiple charges of DUI with serious bodily injury, reckless driving, and failure to use due care.
Serge Avsenew - It was four years ago this week, on Christmas Day in 2010, that a gay couple — Kevin Mark Powell and Stephen Adams — was found slain in their Wilton Manors home. The crime scene was violent. The accused murderer was a young man from Hollywood that they had apparently at one point entrusted to stay at their home. Now 30 years old, Avsenew is facing charges of murder in the first degree, robbery with a firearm, and the death penalty. He was caught driving the couple’s stolen car and using their credit cards. The case is next set before Judge Ilona Holmes on January 15, 2015. Robert Wills, one of the chief assistant public defenders in the PD’s office, a gay man himself, is representing the accused killer.
Gregg Evan Bernard- For over a decade in the 1990’s, the one-time realtor made news weekly as the club owner of the largest and most prominent nightclub in South Florida, the Copa. Bernard made news last year when he was accused of stealing escrow monies from a local condo association he was supposed to be managing. Charged with a second degree felony, the 50 year old is next set before Judge Raag Singhal in mid-February.
Jonathan Bleiweiss- One of the most newsworthy cases to ever impact the LGBT community, Bleiweiss was an out and open gay Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy in 2009 when his stunning arrest shocked the gay community. Charged with illegally detaining young immigrants and ordering them to perform fellatio upon him, Bleiweiss, who is out on pre trial release, living out of state, is facing a lifetime in prison on charges of armed false imprisonment and battery. The case is still pending, with motions by both parties moving it towards a resolution, one way or the other, in 2015. It is set again in mid January before Judge Michael Robinson.
Robert Alan Joshua- The 50 year old businessman, who once operated The Joshua Tree on North Andrews Avenue, is still facing pending charges of trafficking in methamphetamine and ecstasy. Insisting on his innocence since he was first arrested in October of 2009, Joshua claims that he unknowingly received, at his home from Federal Express, packages of meth. Vigorous in his defense, he has tried to uncover the source. The case carries a mandatory minimum of three years in Florida State prison if convicted, and is next set in early February before Judge Andrew Siegel.
Rob Lopicola - The former WPTV weatherman, who later served as a dance manager for the Boardwalk, has not had a good year. Early on, he was convicted and sentenced to 56 months in prison as a child sex offender for his conduct with underage boys. But in September, a federal grand jury in St. Louis indicted him for his conduct as a telemarketer in a 2009 condo timeshare scam. The 44 year old is charged with felony conspiracy and wire fraud charges that are now pending. The 14.5 million dollar fraud is said to have bilked over 7,000 investors. Lopicola is looking at up to 25 years.
Justin William Newman- A local businessman, 34, who worked in the printing industry, from Russelville, Arkansas, was charged as part of an undercover sting for travelling to meet a minor, a teenage boy, for sex. He met a police officer instead and now faces a second-degree felony charge, with the possibility of a long jail sentence. The pending case is set in front of Judge Lisa Porter in February.
John William Snavely - The one time porn star from San Antonio, Texas, now 27, lived brazenly after apparently brutally slaying businessman Sam Del Brocco in his Pompano Beach condominium in September of 2010. Leaving a trail of DNA evidence that was only identified in 2014 after allegedly being in a domestic altercation with his girlfriend, Snavely is facing first degree murder charges and is in custody while the courts deal with extradition issues and other related legal matters. No trial date is set, but Snavely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He is likely to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell.
Boyd Corbin - a Wilton Manors mayoral candidate in November, was only weeks ago released from any pending criminal charges for an alleged aggravated battery against a female impersonator, the entertainer Dame Edna, for a 2013 incident in the Manchester Room of the Alibi Bar. A video surfaced on You Tube, which exonerated Corbin of the accusation, and prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
Jack Lee Padgett — The popular philanthropist and owner of Bill’s Filling Station was arrested on October 18, 2013, and charged with possession of cocaine and DUI after a minor traffic accident in front of the Pride Center at Equality Park. The case is closed and Padgett is serving six months of probation for the DUI.
Christopher Donald Waring - Waring, at 22, just ran for city commission in Wilton Manors, after aborting a run for county commission. He did so while having a pending charge of falsely impersonating a police officer. He pled no contest, and is serving a term of felony probation, which will terminate in August of 2015, and even possibly earlier, if he petitions Judge Matthew Destry for early release.
Mario Careaga- A gay Fort Lauderdale insurance executive, and local businessman, who invested in the Dennis Dean gallery, was found guilty last March of two counts of DUI manslaughter in the 2010 death of Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez-Ruiz."I wish it was me instead of Nancy," Careaga said, at his sentencing, where he received 15 years.
Jim Ellis- The Ponzi schemer who defrauded residents of Wilton Station and the Manors is presently serving a 38 month federal sentence for his part in a multimillion Dollar investment scam that was exposed in part by an award winning investigative report initiated and carried through by SFGN reporter Gideon Grudo.
Anthony Livoti and Steve Steiner- Two of Broward County’s leading AIDS activists in the 1990’s, and principles in Mutual Benefits Corporation, are both serving federal prison terms for their role in a major AIDS viatical insurance policy scandal. Livoti, an attorney, was sentenced to 10 years last fall after being found guilty after trial. Steiner, who like Livoti, served on the Board of Directors of Center 1, pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the billion dollar fraud.