Associated Press, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 228

Associated Press

Donald Trump’s labor nominee likely to be asked about Florida case

Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a billionaire sex offender while U.S. attorney in Miami.

Acosta has won confirmation for federal posts three times previously, but he has never faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill for his time as U.S. attorney.

Critics, including attorneys for some underage victims of financier Jeffrey Epstein, say the plea agreement was a “sweetheart deal” made possible only by Epstein’s wealth, connections and high-powered lawyers. Acosta has defended his decisions as the best outcome given evidence available at the time.

“Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher. Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view,” Acosta wrote in a March 2011 letter to media outlets after leaving the U.S. attorney’s office. “Had these additional statements and evidence been known, the outcome may have been different. But they were not known to us at the time.”

Senate aides from both parties expect Democrats to raise the case during Acosta’s confirmation hearing Wednesday as an example of him not speaking up for less-powerful people. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Sen. Patty Murray, the leading Democrat on the committee, said in a statement she met with Acosta on Thursday and is concerned about whether he would “stand up to political pressure” and advocate for workers as labor secretary. Unlike Trump’s original choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, Acosta is expected to win confirmation.

The Florida International University law school dean was nominated after Puzder, a fast-food executive, withdrew over his hiring of an undocumented immigrant housekeeper and other issues.

Acosta, 48, has previously won Senate confirmation as Miami U.S. attorney, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the National Labor Relations Board.

He declined comment when asked about the Epstein case this week.

Epstein, now 64, pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida charges of soliciting prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, of which he served 13 months. Epstein was also required to register as a sex offender and pay millions of dollars in restitution to as many as 40 victims who were between the ages of 13 and 17 when the crimes occurred.

According to court documents, Epstein paid underage girls for sex, sexual massages and similar acts at a Palm Beach mansion he then owned as well as properties in New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New Mexico. Prosecutors say he had a team of employees to identify girls as potential targets.

After an investigation by local police, Palm Beach prosecutors decided to charge Epstein with aggravated assault, which would have meant no jail time, no requirement that he register as a sex offender and no guaranteed restitution for victims.

Unhappy local investigators went to Acosta’s office, which opened a federal probe and eventually drafted a proposed 53-page indictment that could have resulted in a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for Epstein, if convicted. With that as leverage, a deal was worked out for Epstein to plead guilty to state prostitution solicitation charges and the federal indictment was shelved.

It didn’t stop there. Epstein’s lawyers worked out an unusual and secret “non-prosecution agreement” to guarantee neither Epstein nor his employees would ever face federal charges.

Well-known Miami defense lawyer Joel DeFabio, who has represented numerous defendants in sex cases, said he had never heard of such an agreement before Epstein’s came to light. DeFabio said he has had clients with far less egregious sex charges — and far less wealth — who were sentenced to 10 or 15 years behind bars. DeFabio tried to use the Epstein case to argue for more lenient sentences.

“There still has been no clear explanation as to why Epstein received such preferential treatment,” DeFabio said. “This thing just stinks. The elite take care of their own.”

The non-prosecution agreement became public in a related civil case, leading two Epstein victims — identified only as Jane Does No. 1 and 2, to file a victims’ rights lawsuit claiming they were improperly left in the dark about the deal. The lawsuit, which is still pending, seeks to reopen the case to expose the details and possibly nullify the agreement.

Other victims have come forward, including one woman who claimed as a teenager that Epstein flew her around the world for sexual escapades, including encounters with Britain’s Prince Andrew. Buckingham Palace has vehemently denied those claims.

The Justice Department’s position in the victims’ rights lawsuit is that since no federal indictment was ever filed, the victims were not entitled to notification about the non-prosecution agreement. Settlement talks last fall went nowhere.

“There will not be a settlement. That case will eventually get to trial,” said Bradley Edwards, attorney for the two Jane Doe victims.

In his 2011 letter, Acosta defended his decisions as the best possible outcome.

“Our judgment in this case, based on the evidence that was known at the time, was that it was better to have a billionaire serve time in jail, register as a sex offender and pay his victims restitution than risk a trial with a reduced likelihood of success,” Acosta wrote. “I supported that judgment then, and based on the state of the law as it then stood and the evidence known at the time, I would support that judgment again.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Melania Trump begins to embrace new role as first lady

Melania Trump‘s invitation for high-powered women to join her at the White House was about more than the lunch they would eat, or the stated purpose of honoring International Women’s Day.

It marked a “coming out,” almost two months into President Donald Trump‘s term, for a first lady described by her husband as a “very private person.” She had spent a couple of weeks hunkered down at the family’s midtown Manhattan penthouse while Trump got down to work in Washington. Now, the former model is taking her first steps into her very public new role

Mrs. Trump strode into the State Dining Room for her first solo White House event after an announcer intoned, “Ladies and gentlemen, the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump,” and was greeted by the all-female group of about 50 people, including ambassadors, Cabinet members, at least one U.S. senator and stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.

Mrs. Trump asked guests for suggestions on how best to empower women and girls worldwide, possibly foreshadowing women’s empowerment as an issue she would pursue as first lady. Trump said recently that his wife, who turns 47 next month, feels strongly about “women’s difficulties.”

“I will work alongside you in ensuring that the gender of one’s birth does not determine one’s treatment in society,” she told guests, according to a tweet by a White House official.

The White House allowed a small pool of journalists to watch as guests and the first lady arrived for Wednesday’s lunch, but they were ushered out as Mrs. Trump began to speak. The White House press office promised to distribute text of her prepared remarks after the event, but a transcript has not been released.

In recent weeks, Mrs. Trump helped plan their first big White House social event, an annual, black-tie dinner for the nation’s governors. She followed up with a trip the next day to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate in Virginia, where she was hosted by the governors’ spouses.

The first lady has made other quiet appearances, watching her husband sign legislation and executive orders, and accompanying him to the Capitol for a speech to Congress.

She took her counterparts from Japan and Israel on cultural outings and quickly learned the burden of new scrutiny and protocol when she was criticized for not being at the White House to greet the Japanese prime minister’s wife. Instead, Mrs. Trump met the president and Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for an Air Force One flight to Florida. Trump treated Abe to a weekend at Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Melania Trump then took Akie Abe to tour a nearby Japanese garden.

“We see her physical presence,” said Jean Harris, professor of political science and women’s studies at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

All first ladies go through an adjustment period as they figure out how to handle one of the most unforgiving roles in American political life. Unlike many of Mrs. Trump’s predecessors, who were politically experienced through marriage to governors or members of Congress, she is married to a lifelong businessman who never held elective office until he became president.

Complicating her White House launch is the couple’s decision for the first lady to continue living at Trump Tower until their 10-year-old son, Barron, finishes the school year. She’s not expected to live full time at the White House for at least several more months, leaving Trump largely on his own and without a traditional source of moral support.

Mrs. Trump has also been slow to staff the East Wing of the White House, where the first lady’s office is based. She so far has named only a social secretary and a chief of staff. The president has said he doesn’t want to fill hundreds of government vacancies because they are “unnecessary,” which could include the East Wing.

And the slow pace of building her staff could be complicating operations.

It’s customary for the White House Visitors Office to close temporarily during a change in administration since political appointees do the work. But this year’s shutdown lasted longer than usual, frustrating members of Congress who are responsible for distributing White House public tour tickets to constituents. Tours resumed earlier this week after a more than six-week pause.

Speculation about whether the Trumps would continue the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn had been mounting until they announced this week that it will be held on April 17.

The first lady’s popularity has risen 16 percentage points since the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to recent polling by CNN, climbing to 52 percent, from 36 percent.

Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women,” said the public sees Mrs. Trump as a calming force and as someone who has embraced being a mother.

“She’s really the polar opposite of him,” she said, noting that the first lady barely tweets, unlike her husband’s daily Twitter habit. Mrs. Trump also hadn’t been seen in public for several weeks after the inauguration, whereas the president appears on camera most days of the week.

“I think most people find it endearing that she doesn’t crave the spotlight in a way that he clearly does,” Brower said.

Harris said the public is giving Mrs. Trump “a little bit of a honeymoon period” but predicted the mood will change if she doesn’t move to the White House.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Engineers give Florida a “C” grade for infrastructure

Florida’s infrastructure is getting a grade of “C” by civil engineers, but that’s still better than the grade of “D+” given to the nation overall.

An American Society of Civil Engineers report card released Thursday says investing in infrastructure must be a top priority in Florida given its growing population.

The report card looked at all the state’s infrastructure, from transportation to water to energy.

Florida’s best score was on bridges, for which it received a “B.” The report card says only 1.7 percent of Florida’s bridges are structurally deficient.

Florida’s worst scores were for coastal areas because of beach erosion and schools. The report card faulted Florida schools for not keeping pace with a growing student population, as well as its aging school buildings.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Former Florida lawmaker charged with misusing campaign funds

Former Florida lawmaker Dwayne Taylor has been charged with wire fraud in an indictment that alleges he misused campaign funds.

The nine-count indictment made public on Thursday accuses Taylor of withdrawing money from his campaign fund and depositing that same amount in his personal bank accounts.

The federal indictment in Orlando says Taylor used the campaign money for personal expenses and then submitted false campaign expenditure reports to the state of Florida.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a return of the $62,000 they say Taylor obtained.

Taylor, a Democrat, represented a Daytona Beach House district from 2008 until last year when he made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Congress.

Court records showed no attorney for 49-year-old Taylor.

No one answered the phone at a number listed for Taylor in public records.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Florida Senate says yes to more help for college students

College students in Florida could soon get extra help under an ambitious proposal passed by the Florida Senate.

The Florida Senate voted 35-1 Thursday for an overhaul of the state’s higher education system that is a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron. It boosts financial aid and calls for new programs to help universities attract and keep faculty members.

The bill (SB 2) would require the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a state university or college.

Florida used to pay 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the top Bright Futures scholarship, but it was scaled back during the Great Recession.

It’s not clear, however, if the Florida House will pass the bill. House leaders have started questioning university spending.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Florida tries again to fix death-penalty law

Florida lawmakers are trying for the second year in a row to fix the state’s death penalty law.

The Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to require a unanimous jury decision to impose the death penalty. The House is also prepared for a vote on the issue. It could be the first major bill sent to Gov. Rick Scott this year.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges.

Last year, a bill requiring a 10-2 jury vote was enacted. The state Supreme Court struck it down in October, saying a unanimous decision was needed.

The Republican-dominated Legislature isn’t happy about having to make the fix, but lawmakers say their hands are tied by the court.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

School board votes to protect kids from immigration raids

A South Florida school board is taking steps to protect the children of undocumented immigrants who face deportation.

The School Board of Broward County approved the resolution on Tuesday in response to increasing fears of more aggressive immigration enforcement policies implemented by the Trump administration.

School Board member Robin Bartleman says immigrant families “wanted to know that we had their backs.”

News outlets report the resolution prevents Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from entering schools or school-related events without warrants. Any requests to access schools or get information about a student will be directed to the district’s attorney.

The board also agreed to have schools work with parents and community organizations to come up with a plan in case a student’s parents are deported.

The Miami-Dade school board will vote on a similar policy March 15.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Fort Lauderdale woman seeks right to trial in Trump University case

A Fort Lauderdale woman asked this week to be excluded from a proposed settlement with President Donald Trump over fraud allegations at his now-defunct Trump University, setting the stage for a possible trial if a federal judge agrees.

Attorneys for Sherri Simpson said in a court filing that lawyers for former students in class-action lawsuits promised in 2015 that they could ask to be excluded from any future settlement. A settlement announced less than two weeks after Trump’s election allows class members to object to the terms, but they can no longer drop out, preventing them from suing on the own.

She described herself as a single mother hoping to improve life for her child — until she was victimized by what she describes as shady practices at Trump University.

“All of it was just a fake,” Simpson said in the ad. “America, do not make the same mistake that I did with Donald Trump. I got hurt badly and I’d hate to see this country get hurt by Donald Trump.”

Monday was the last day for former students to object to the $25 million settlement, which U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel will consider for final approval at a hearing March 30 in San Diego.

Curiel, a target of Trump’s repeated criticism during the presidential campaign, granted preliminary approval to the agreement in December and has said he hoped it would be part of a healing process that the country sorely needed. It settles two class-action lawsuits before Curiel on behalf of about 7,000 former students and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The former students would get at least 50 percent of their money back, according to plaintiff attorneys, who waived their fees to allow for larger payouts.

Simpson’s attorneys said many may be satisfied with the payment and acknowledged it is high under standards for class-action lawsuits but that their client wasn’t prepared to take it.

“What Ms. Simpson seeks is her day in court, at which she will press for the complete vindication of all her rights, including her full damages plus punitive damages and injunctive relief. Due process guarantees her the autonomy to pursue these goals,” her attorneys said.

According to the proposed settlement, former students had until Nov. 16, 2015, to opt out of a future settlement and cannot sue Trump on the same grounds. Thirteen people opted out, but not Simpson.

Jason Forge, an attorney for plaintiffs, said Monday that the former students had been repeatedly informed of the opt-out deadline. “Anyone who chose to give up their individual claim and remain in the class will be rewarded for doing so under the terms of what is (a) historically beneficial settlement,” he said in an email.

The lawsuits allege that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver on its promises. They contend that Trump misled students by calling the business a university and by saying that he had hand-picked the instructors.

After attending two seminars in Florida in 2010, Simpson enrolled in the “Gold Elite” mentorship program for $35,000.

Attorneys for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump admits no wrongdoing under the proposed settlement.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

About that unusually tense interview between Stephanopoulos, Trump aide

George Stephanopoulos‘ “Good Morning America” interview with White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday is an instant milestone in the hostile relationship between the Trump administration and the media.

In the discussion about President Donald Trump‘s weekend accusations — offered without proof — that former President Obama ordered Trump’s New York home wiretapped, Stephanopoulos repeatedly interrupted and stopped Sanders when he felt she veered from the truth. It was a crackling exchange unusual for the generally happy terrain of network morning television, and made Stephanopoulos a hero or villain depending on whose social media feed is followed.

It was also the second time in a month that the ABC anchor had a notably sharp interview with a Trump administration official. On “This Week” last month, he repeatedly pressed Trump aide Stephen Miller for evidence to back up the claim that there was massive voter fraud in the election.

Sanders was also interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, while “CBS This Morning” turned down the White House’s offer to have her on. Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” brought presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway on to speak about Trump’s allegations, less than a day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there would be no further comment on the issue. It wasn’t clear what changed the administration’s strategy.

Stephanopoulos began his interview by asking Sanders whether Trump accepted reports that FBI director James Comey had denied there was any wiretapping of Trump. Sanders said she didn’t believe he did, and started talking about wiretapping reports in other media outlets.

“Sarah, I have got to stop you right there,” Stephanopoulos said. The stories she cited did not back up the president’s claims, he said. “What is the president’s evidence?” he asked.

Sanders said there was “wide reporting” suggesting that the administration could have ordered wiretapping. Stephanopoulos stopped her to note there was a report of a court-ordered wiretapping, although James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under Obama, had denied that.

Stephanopoulos stopped Sanders again when she noted that the unsubstantiated report of a wiretapping order came under the Obama administration and that “all we’re asking is that Congress be allowed to do its job.”

“Hold on a second,” he said. “There is a world of difference between a wiretap ordered by a president and a court-ordered wiretap by a federal judge.”

Noting that Obama’s representatives, Comey and Clapper had all said there was no wiretapping, Stephanopoulos asked, “is the president calling all three of these people liars?”

Sanders said that he wasn’t, but that it was a matter for congressional investigators to look into. She said she considered it a double standard that the media does not believe Trump when he says nothing untoward had happened between him and Russia, while reporters accept denials by the Obama administration on the wiretap accusation.

“If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would be reporting that he could not swim,” she said.

The interview illustrated the difficulties the media faces in trying to report on the president’s unsubstantiated tweets. There was a furious debate on the “Good Morning America” Facebook page on Monday afternoon between people who cheered the host, a one-time adviser to President Bill Clinton, for calling out untruths, and others who believed he was rude — even suggesting they would boycott ABC’s morning show because they were disgusted by the interview.

Many of Trump’s supporters are angered by aggressive questioning because they believe the media did not ask similar tough questions of the Obama administration, said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog.

“You have no right to tell us what the truth is,” Graham said.

At the same time, reporters face pressure from Trump opponents who give no quarter, as witnessed by last week’s backlash against television analysts who suggested Trump gave an effective speech before Congress. There are also some who believe the wiretap accusation itself is a way to distract people from the story about Russia, and the media effectively supports the strategy by reporting it.

Stephanopoulos said after the interview that his job is to elicit as much clarity as possible, and he believed his interview was an important opportunity to get the Trump administration on the record on these issues.

“If I hear something that I know to be untrue, then I think it’s my responsibility to point that out,” he said.

Sanders’ interview on “Today” was more peaceful, but still had some tense moments. Savannah Guthrie interrupted Sanders to ask a second time when she wouldn’t answer her question about whether the president had made his accusations solely after seeing media reports. She said she didn’t know.

Sanders later repeated the same line about the Potomac River.

Conway was given more time to talk on “Fox & Friends,” although she did face pushback on whether Trump associates who had conversations with Russian officials had hurt the president. She drew laughs when she said she wished she had $50 for every time Russia was mentioned in the news.

“A drinking game,” one of the Fox anchors joked off-screen.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

For 1st time, Casey Anthony speaks about case

Casey Anthony knows that much of the world believes she killed her 2-year-old daughter, despite her acquittal. But nearly nine years later, she insists she doesn’t know how the last hours of Caylee’s life unfolded.

“Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass,” she told The Associated Press in one of a series of exclusive interviews. “I’d like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, playing sports” and putting up with no nonsense.

But discussing Caylee’s last moments, the 30-year-old Anthony spoke in halting, sober tones: “I’m still not even certain as I stand here today about what happened,” she said.

“Based off what was in the media” – the story of a woman who could not account for a month in which her child was missing, whose defense involved an accidental drowning for which there was no eyewitness testimony – “I understand the reasons people feel about me. I understand why people have the opinions that they do.”

This was the first time Anthony spoke to a news media outlet about her daughter’s death or her years since the trial. Her responses were at turns revealing, bizarre and often contradictory, and they ultimately raised more questions than answers about the case that has captivated the nation.

It’s been almost nine years since Caylee went missing, and six since the circus-like Orlando trial that ended in her mother’s acquittal. The trial was carried live on cable networks and was the focus of daily commentaries by HLN’s Nancy Grace, who called her “the most hated mom in America,” and, derisively, “tot mom.”

Anthony views herself as something of an Alice in Wonderland, with the public as the Red Queen.

“The queen is proclaiming: ‘No, no, sentence first, verdict afterward,'” she says. “I sense and feel to this day that is a direct parallel to what I lived. My sentence was doled out long before there was a verdict. Sentence first, verdict afterward. People found me guilty long before I had my day in court.”

The child was supposedly last seen on June 16, 2008; she was first reported missing, by Casey Anthony’s mother, on July 15. A day later, Casey Anthony was arrested on charges of child neglect. She told police that Caylee had disappeared with a baby sitter.

A utility worker working in a wooded area near the Anthony home on Dec. 11 found skeletal remains that were later determined to be Caylee’s. Experts would testify that air samples indicated that decaying human remains had been present in Casey Anthony’s trunk.

In the end, prosecutors proved Casey Anthony was a liar, but convinced the jury of little else. The government failed to establish how Caylee died, and they couldn’t find her mother’s DNA on the duct tape they said was used to suffocate her. After a trial of a month and a half, the jury took less than 11 hours to find Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.

Still, the Florida Department of Children and Families concluded that Anthony was responsible for her daughter’s death because her “actions or the lack of actions … ultimately resulted or contributed in the death of the child.” And just this month, former Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who presided at the trial, theorized that Anthony may have killed Caylee accidentally when she was using chloroform to calm her.

She was convicted of four counts of lying to police (though two counts were later dropped), and served about three years in prison while awaiting trial. A thousand people were there to see her released.

She admits that she lied to police: about being employed at Universal Studios; about leaving Caylee with a baby-sitter; about telling two people, both of them imaginary, that Caylee was missing; about receiving a phone call from Caylee the day before she was reported missing.

“Even if I would’ve told them everything that I told to the psychologist, I hate to say this but I firmly believe I would have been in the same place. Because cops believe other cops. Cops tend to victimize the victims. I understand now … I see why I was treated the way I was even had I been completely truthful.”

She added: “Cops lie to people every day. I’m just one of the unfortunate idiots who admitted they lied.”

She paused.

“My dad was a cop, you can read into that what you want to.”

At the trial, lead defense attorney Jose Baez suggested that the little girl drowned and that Casey Anthony’s father, George, helped cover that up – and sexually abused his daughter. Her father has vehemently denied the accusations.

Anthony doesn’t talk about her parents much, other than to say she was disappointed when they took money from television’s Dr. Phil and appeared on his show. The host donated $600,000 to Caylee’s Fund, a nonprofit started by Anthony’s parents. At the time, he said George and Cindy Anthony would derive no income from the money. The nonprofit was later dissolved.

Asked about the drowning defense, Casey Anthony hesitated: “Everyone has their theories, I don’t know. As I stand here today I can’t tell you one way or another. The last time I saw my daughter I believed she was alive and was going to be OK, and that’s what was told to me. “

Anthony lives in the South Florida home of Patrick McKenna, a private detective who was the lead investigator on her defense team. She also works for him, doing online social media searches and other investigative work. McKenna was also the lead investigator for OJ Simpson, when he was accused of killing his wife and acquitted; Anthony said she’s become fascinated with the case, and there are “a lot of parallels” to her own circumstances.

“I can empathize with his situation,” she said.

An Associated Press reporter met Anthony as she protested against President Donald Trump at a Palm Beach rally.

It’s unclear why Anthony agreed to speak to the AP. She later texted the reporter, asking that the AP not run the story. Among other things, she cited the bankruptcy case in which she has been embroiled since 2013: “During the course of my bankruptcy, the rights to my story were purchased by a third party company for $25k to protect my interests. Without written authorization from the controlling members of this company, I am prohibited from speaking publicly about my case at any time.”

In addition, she said she had violated a confidentiality agreement with her employer, and remains under subpoena and subject to deposition in her bankruptcy case.

Yet she had participated in five on-the-record interviews over a one-week period, many of them audiotaped.

She still dreads the supermarket checkout line for fear she’ll see photos of her daughter on the cover of tabloid papers. Her bedroom walls are decorated with photos of Caylee and she weeps when she shows off her daughter’s colorful, finger-painted artwork.

Still, she asserts she is happy. For her 31st birthday she plans to go skydiving. She enjoys taking photos, mostly of squirrels and other wildlife. And she loves her investigative work.

“I love the fact that I have a unique perspective and I get a chance to do for other people what so many others have done for me,” she said. Someday, she said, she’d like to get a private investigator’s license and work for a defense team.

She talks of working on a DUI manslaughter case where the accused took a plea deal.

“I look at him and I think this kid almost lost his life for something they can’t definitively prove that he did,” she said. “I’ve lived it firsthand. I didn’t do what I was accused of but I fought for three years. Not just for me, but for my daughter.”

Occasionally she goes out with friends to area bars and has struck up a few short-lived romantic relationships. When she’s out in public, men are attracted to her long, dark locks and petite frame, and often pay for her signature drinks: either a Fat Tire beer or a Jack Daniels and diet coke, with a lime wedge. But news that she is there spreads quickly; people whisper and snap photos, and she retreats to her newly purchased SUV so she can return home, alone.

Anthony speaks defiantly of her pariah status.

“I don’t give a s— about what anyone thinks about me, I never will,” she said. “I’m OK with myself, I sleep pretty good at night.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons