Category Archives: Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL

Congrats to Amira Fox on her Primary Vicgtory

amira fox

Amira Fox

Amira Fox won the Republican primary in the race for State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. That effectively means she will win the seat. This is a relief for everyone working in the criminal justice system in Southwest Florida, as things tend to run pretty well at the State here, and the kind of wholesale changes her opponent planned could have started chaos in our justice system. Ms. Fox was clearly the best candidate, and has the smarts and experience to do the job well.

I hope that when Ms. Fox takes over, she does look to improve some of the things about the State Attorney’s office: it would be nice to see more consistency from county to county, a reduction in jail time for non-violent crimes, especially misdemeanors like marijuana possession, and being willing to admit when a case is bad. Generally, the office has been pretty well run since Ms. Fox took over as chief assistant, and it probably will continue to be so. Ms. Fox ran a good, honest campaign and did not stoop to the dishonesty and mudslinging of her opponent. Hopefully this will show that races can be won the right way, by the best candidate. I wish her luck.

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Amira Fox is the Clear Choice for State Attorney

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Chris Crowley and Amira Fox

The primary election is tomorrow, and Republican voters will be presented a clear choice for State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. The standout choice is Amira Fox, currently the chief assistant State Attorney under current State Attorney Stephen Russell. Ms. Fox is a smart, talented prosecutor whose experience clearly makes her the most qualified candidate for the job. She has the support of law enforcement, including outgoing prosecutor Russell, and the sheriffs of all five counties in the 20th Judicial Circuit. Moreover, she has the overwhelming support of the attorneys who practice in Lee County, who are in the best position to evaluate the qualifications of the chief law enforcement officer for Southwest Florida.

The campaign leading up to the primary, which will be dispositive as there is only a token write-in candidate remaining in the general election, has been extremely heated. Her opponent, Christopher Crowley has attacked her with deceit and obfuscation because his actual qualifications are woefully lacking. Crowley is a twice-failed prosecutor who cannot gain the support of law enforcement.

Crowley was asked to resign from the office of the Statewide Prosecutor after detectives informed his supervisor that they did not have faith in his abilities as a prosecutor. He returned the the State Attorney’s office, where he was soon fired for incompetence. Crowley then demonstrated his stunningly poor judgment by illegally promoting a raffle at a campaign fund raising event. He then posted video of the criminal act on his Facebook page, which ultimately resulted in his felony arrest for the illegal lottery and illegal campaign fundraising. Crowley had to get a retired democrat attorney to represent him, because he has so much trouble finding a defense attorney. His attorney did a great job by getting him into the felony diversion program after he admitted to his wrongdoing. While the charge may have been an inadvertent infraction that did not involve much money, the lack of oversight and judgment demonstrate that Crowley cannot be trusted run the State Attorney’s Office.

Crowley has tried to mislead the electorate to distract from his lack of qualifications. One of his favorite claims is that the office is corrupt- basically accusing Ms. Fox of ordering his arrest. This is patently false, as the local State Attorney’s office notified the governor of the possible conflict, and the State Attorney for the 10th Circuit handled the case. If Crowley is suggesting corruption, he is accusing Governor Scott and multiple law enforcement agencies. This is not a case of corruption: incompetent Crowley committed a felony, published the evidence, and got charged by an independent prosecutor. He does not deserve to be the chief law enforcement officer for our circuit.

Another of his other favorite claims is that the conviction rate in our circuit is only 39%. He fabricated this number based on raw arrest numbers and actual adjudications. However, this number does not take into account charges that are not filed, nor does it take into account cases that are resolved in drug court, mental health court, or other positive dispositions. Ironically, Crowley’s own arrest and diversion program would count against his calculation of a conviction rate. The more appropriate number is calculated by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and it’s 88% for this circuit, in line with other circuits. And the more important number, the crime rate, is the lowest of all the circuits in Florida. Some of the other claims being promoted by Crowley’s supporters, and often shared by him on social media, are unsupported, untrue, and not worth repeating.

Finally, as a criminal law attorney in town, I have had the opportunity to work with both candidates, and I can say without hesitation that Ms. Fox is more competent, better prepared, and a better attorney that Mr. Crowley. I do not have a dog in the fight and I have not donated to either candidate, but I can say experience has demonstrated that Ms. Fox is the best candidate for the job, and Mr. Crowley could be a train wreck if he were to win.

The choice for voters tomorrow is between an extremely experienced, qualified, and highly recommended candidate in Amira Fox, or a failed prosecutor in Chris Crowley. Crowley failed to lawfully conduct his campaign, and now wants to oversee law enforcement across Southwest Florida. And to do so, he is running a deceitful campaign. He is unqualified, he does not have the support of law enforcement, nor does he have the the competence for the job. The choice is clear, Amira Fox is the best candidate for State Attorney.

James Chandler is the Choice for Circuit Judge

james chandler

James Chandler

As early voting gets underway in the 5 county 20th judicial circuit, which includes Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, I though I’d take an opportunity to weigh in on a local race that I feel strongly about. I am writing to endorse James Chandler, who is running for Circuit Judge. I have gotten to know Mr. Chandler well over the last several years, and think he would be an excellent choice for the circuit judge position. Mr. Chandler and I both worked at the State Attorney’s office when we moved to Southwest Florida. After I went into private practice, I had cases against Mr. Chandler and found him to be fair as a prosecutor.

Chandler later went into private practice, where he handles not only criminal defense, but also civil matters such as family law. That’s important, as our circuit judges can end up handling both criminal and civil cases: Mr. Chandler has the background to handle both. Mr. Chandler is someone that I would frequently discuss my criminal cases with, for strategies and legal insight, and I feel Mr. Chandler understands the and will protect the rights and fairly adjudicate the cases of all who would appear before him. He has shown himself to be a skilled courtroom attorney, including a high-profile case we covered here in Crimcourts. Mr. Chandler has the experience, temperament, and the intangibles to be an excellent judge, and I fully endorse him for Circuit Judge.

Murder Trial Underway for Babysitter Accused of Murdering Child

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Rafael Carrion

Jury selection started this morning in Fort Myers in the trial of Rafael Carrion, accused in the death of a neighbor’s child that was in his care. He told investigators that the child must have fallen or something, but the injuries were severe and consistent with a violent beating. We broke the news that Carrion had just been released from prison at the time he was arrested. The child’s father told Fox 4 that he felt the mother should have been arrested, too… but there is no indication that she has been charged. Carrion is charged with second degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse, and is facing life in prison.

Alleged Cop-Killer Desmaret Indicted for First Degree Murder

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Wisner Desmaret

A grand jury has returned an indictment for First Degree Murder against Wisner Desmaret, the man accused of killing FMPD Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller. A grand jury indictment is a necessary step in Florida to proceed on First Degree Murder charges, and may be the next step toward the state seeking the death penalty. The grand jury found evidence that he killed Jobbers-Miller with premeditated design or in the course of committing a violent felony (resisting an officer with violence), in addition to additional charges of Resisting with Violence, Robbery, Depriving an Officer of Means of Protection, Attempted Murder and Aggravated Assault on other officers, and Burglary and Grand Theft. The police report indicates that Wisner, a former boxer, knocked Jobbers-Miller down, took his gun, and shot him in the head while he was still on the ground. He then fired at two other officers, one of whom shot Wisner before he was taken into custody.

Wisner is set for arraignment on August 27, though that may be moved up, since the indictment has been filed. Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox was the prosecutor who obtained the indictment, and will likely be handling the case.

What to know about the Chris Crowley Arrest

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Crowley: in flagrante delicto

State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley was arrested and charged with two felonies yesterday. He’s trying to mislead on what that means. Here’s what you need to know:

Crowley committed a crime… two, actually. His offenses were on tape. He has admitted guilt for his crimes. One charge was for holding a raffle: only registered non-profits can hold raffles. The other was for illegally soliciting campaign funds. That’s why Crowley went to jail.

There is no law enforcement corruption here, quite the opposite. The local State Attorney did not handle the case, so there would be no conflict. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) handled the investigation, and the State Attorney’s office for the 10th Judicial Circuit (out of Bartow), handled the prosecution decisions and the negotiations. When Crowley claims corruption, he is lying.

The amount of money does not matter. The crime was not how much money he raised, but that he solicited it and raised it illegally.

It is also irrelevant that he gave the money back. The robber is not exonerated if he gives back the purse when he is caught. This is a mitigating factor, but it does not excuse the fact that he committed two felonies. Nor is it a defense that the illegal raffle was done ‘in good faith.’ It is the duty of the candidate to follow the campaign laws.

Crowley says “Amira Fox had me arrested.” That is also a lie. He was arrested because he committed felonies. The office that Ms. Fox works for, the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit, did not handle the case. Crowley has provided zero evidence that Ms. Fox had anything to do with his arrest. Crowley says he wants to be tough on crime, but he does not want to be truthful about his own crime that put him in jail today.

Finally, the case has not already been ‘effectively dismissed’ with just a fine. Crowley has signed a pretrial diversion contract. That means that when he completes certain requirements, the charges will be dropped… but it hasn’t happened yet. He likely will be supervised by the State Probation department for at least six months, in addition to fines and other financial obligations. This is a common resolution for a first time offender. It does not suggest that the charges are not appropriate, but that Crowley is getting a break since he doesn’t have any history. He’s lucky that the 10th Circuit prosecutors did not try to make a “tough on crime” example out of him.

Chris Crowley Arrested! Charged with Felonies

  • Chris Crowley has just been arrested for two felonies for his campaign activities.
  • Crowley is running for State Attorney.
  • Crowley has been stating his will be tough on crime.
crowley raffle

Crowley, illegally selling raffle tickets

NBC-2 is reporting that State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley has been arrested and charged with two felonies. A warrant was issued and Crowley turned himself in. We covered the alleged illegal activity several weeks ago on Crimcourts. The case is going to be handled by another circuit prosecutor, due to the possible conflict of interest. He is charged with operating a lottery and violating campaign law.

Crowley was seen at a campaign fundraiser promoting 50/50 raffle tickets to raise money for his campaign. He later posted the video of the activity himself, which is an illegal lottery and a campaign violation. When interviewed by NBC-2, he admitted the 50/50 raffle, and said he didn’t deposit the money. For the record, ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for someone running to be the chief law enforcement officer.

Our previous story on Crowley’s illegal campaign activity is here, and we did a story on reports of his incompetence as a prosecutor here.