FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — John Longo did not have to die in jail, his defense lawyer says.
But preserving him out of custody soon after he was observed responsible of dishonest a boat vendor out of a $75,000 vessel may not have been an option. Inspite of Longo’s lousy health, Broward Circuit Decide Tim Bailey requested him into custody soon after the jury convicted him on Feb. 4. Before the sunlight came up the subsequent morning, Longo, 72, was dead, just as his law firm had warned.
Longo’s demise illustrates the frequent stress judges are below to balance justice and mercy. Court docket dockets are always teeming with pleas for “downward departures” from convicted defendants urging judges to go uncomplicated on them. They cite a assortment of explanations, which includes mental wellness, youth, previous age and amount of maturity.
“After a whilst a judge will get a excellent really feel for what is and is not deserving of consideration,” reported retired Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman. “If you let somebody out and they victimize someone else, it’s the judge’s name that is heading to be on the front web site of the newspaper.”
That Longo’s ailment was really serious was in no way in question. He showed up for demo hooked up to an oxygen device. “The jury could see he experienced a very long respiration tube place up to his nose,” claimed his law firm, Marco Quesada.
The lawyer submitted letters from the defendant’s cardiologist and pulmonologist outlining his client’s health and fitness difficulties and warning of what could transpire if he were being to be jailed.
Backman and other legal professionals say Bailey possible experienced no selection but to remand Longo into custody. Quesada and other protection attorneys disagree.
Bailey’s office environment did not respond to a request for comment. The Broward Point out Attorney’s Workplace did not need or oppose Longo’s immediate incarceration.
While Longo was older than most defendants, his sufferer was even older. In accordance to courtroom information, Longo promised to purchase a boat from a seller who is now 86. Any delay of the trial’s proceedings, already impacted by the COVID pandemic, could have an outcome on the victim, as well.
In accordance to the costs, Longo filed a title transfer with the U.S. Coastline Guard proclaiming ownership of the vessel just before he paid out a dime to the victim. Longo could not create a canceled examine or any proof that he had withdrawn $75,000 in cash to fork out for the boat, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Business report.
It was not Longo’s initial brush with the legislation. In 1987 he was convicted of 18 counts of grand theft. Records present other convictions for theft and fraud, the most the latest in 2004. All people convictions factored into his legal historical past to identify a sentencing advice recognised as a “score.” The higher a defendant’s score, the much more time he could be predicted to serve in prison for a crime.
Longo’s score, factoring in his prior convictions, would have resulted in a minimal sentence of 62 months, or a little around five a long time. Sentencing had not been scheduled, but would very likely have taken location in late March or early April.
But Longo was lifeless in a working day. The Broward Sheriff’s Office environment, which operates the county jails, claimed Longo was first taken to the North Broward Bureau in Pompano Beach front, then to Northwest Professional medical Centre in Margate, exactly where he was pronounced lifeless.
“We had been speaking about an financial criminal offense, no weapons concerned,” claimed Quesada. “It must have been a circumstance solved in the civil court.”
His demise was initial claimed by the courthouse news and gossip internet site JAABlog.
Lindsay Lawrence Chase, newly elected president of the Broward Association of Legal Protection Legal professionals, said Longo’s loss of life underscores a need to have to give judges extra leeway in selecting when to jail a convicted defendant. “I assume in this situation Choose Bailey’s arms have been tied,” she mentioned.