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Ex-Deputy Guilty on 14 Counts of False Imprisonment Could Still Get Retirement Pay

| June 8, 2016

Jonathan Bleiweiss

Jonathan Bleiweiss.

A former Broward County sheriff’s deputy who pleaded guilty to 14 counts of armed false imprisonment could still get his state retirement benefits, under a ruling Tuesday by an administrative law judge.

Jonathan Bleiweiss was accused of committing the crimes while in uniform and driving a marked police car. The ruling Tuesday by Administrative Law Judge John Van Laningham provided little detail about the allegations, but the Sun Sentinel newspaper reported last year that Bleiweiss had been accused of intimidating undocumented immigrants into performing sex acts. The victims declined to testify for fear of being deported.

The Sun Sentinel reported that he entered a plea deal that included five years in prison, but spared him a designation as a sexual offender after release. After the plea, the state Division of Retirement made a preliminary decision that Bleiweiss had forfeited his benefits in the Florida Retirement System because of the conviction. Bleiweiss requested an administrative hearing to challenge the decision.

Van Laningham, in a 21-page recommended order, found that the state did not meet legal tests for trying to strip Bleiweiss of his retirement benefits. Those tests include that the criminal offenses were “done with the intent to defraud the public or the employee’s public employer” and that they were “done to obtain a profit, gain or advantage” for the employee or someone else. Van Laningham wrote that the state did not prove the “elements of fraudulent intent and personal gain” that are necessary.

“The upshot is that while there is a little more here, factually speaking, than the bare elements of false imprisonment to consider, the circumstantial evidence is yet insufficient to persuade the undersigned (Van Laningham) to find, by inference, that Bleiweiss intended to defraud the public or his employer, so as to make it appear that he was faithfully discharging his duties when he was not,” one part of the ruling said. The recommendation goes back to the Division of Retirement for a final order.–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

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5 Responses for “Ex-Deputy Guilty on 14 Counts of False Imprisonment Could Still Get Retirement Pay”

  1. Greg Feldman says:

    This is a horrible set of criminal acts and a decision by an Administrative Law judge that strictly interprets the law. You would be hard pressed to find a single cop who would support this decision. However, your Facebook tagline about “special treatment in blue”, where the reader’s eye first goes, is a blanket disparagement to the police professionals who also find this abhorrent, including the ones who spent hundreds of hours investigating this disgrace to the badge. This could have been any public employee using the law, as written, to garner benefits, however objectionable. “Another legal loophole” would have been more accurate, and would not have taken a shot at an entire profession.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      No one is suggesting that a cop would support this decision. The tag line is a disparagement of the decision, which is as questionable as that other judge’s in the California rape case. It is not a blanket disparagement of the profession by any stretch, though to deny that the profession does get special treatment, not because of legal loopholes but because of interpretive discretion, is to ignore a rich and inexcusable history of such favoritism. Here are three local cases: one, two, three.

  2. Geezer says:

    Wow, nice plea deal! Non sex-offender status, in exchange for a 5-year jail term for a clear-cut degenerate.
    You can bet he’ll be segregated from the general population too. All the while, he’ll be lifting weights and building a vocabulary with all the reading he’ll be doing.

    And the same creep expects a pension from the state!
    He was faithfully “discharging” something alright!

    He’s got hutzpah.

  3. August Maxwell says:

    That would be a travesty of justice, i he gets retirement, since he didnt retire, he went to prison…

  4. Lin says:

    Interpretive discretion —
    One of the ?s prospective jurors are asked involves,
    If the witness testifying is a police officer, do you give more weight (or credibility) to their testimony?”

    I had to really think about that one

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