Judge Lets Killer Walk, But Jails Deerfield Pol


I have no sympathy for Steve Gonot.

The disgraced Deerfield Beach commissioner was sentenced to a year in jail on Friday for illegally using money in his campaign account and then lying about it.

But is Gonot paying for the judge’s earlier slap-on-the-wrist she handed the hit-and-run killer of two British tourists?

Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy was shredded by the media and legal circles in early June when she sentence Ryan LeVin, 36, to two years of house arrest in his parents oceanfront condo.  He had fatally struck the tourists and fled in his Porsche.

At the time of the double homicide, LeVin had more than 50 traffic tickets, a cocaine arrest and was on probation for a high speed chase after striking a police officer in Illinois.

The Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Mayo summed up the reaction to McCarthy’s ultra-light sentence this way:

“The outrage over the LeVin sentence keeps percolating. It’s made headlines in the British tabloids and is the buzz of the Broward courthouse. I’ve spoken with several other judges who are flabbergasted by the light sentence,” Mayo wrote on June 9.

Yesterday, McCarthy was faced with another high profile sentencing—Gonot.

He was convicted in May of two 3rd degree felonies —  misusing $5,135 in campaign contributions.

McCarthy slapped him with a year in jail!


Vehicular homicide, house arrest.  Stealing from your own campaign account, one year behind bars.

Something is out of wack, Judge McCarthy.

Although the prosecutor made much of  Gonot’s “public corruption,” I’m not so sure.  Gonot stole from his own campaign account. As far as I know, there were no crowd of contributors claiming to be victims and demanding their money be returned.

First time offenders charged with non-violent third degree felonies almost never get jail time, I am told.

The cynic in me has to wonder: Was McCarthy was so bruised by public criticism of her light sentence of LeVin, that she threw Gonot in jail?

What’s a year in jail for Gonot going to do for the public, except cost us money?  He’s already lost his political career and his reputation. He may lose his $2,152-a-month pension from the state transportation department.

Judges should not let public opinion influence sentencing, but they do.  McCarthy has to run for re-election.

Is this another argument for the merit retention elections of circuit and county judges?

30 Responses to “Judge Lets Killer Walk, But Jails Deerfield Pol”

  1. Mister Courthouse says:

    Wasn’t McCarthy’s campaign treasurer LaVin’s attorney? That explains everything and makes it worse.

  2. Two plus two equals five says:

    Merit retention for any Judge is a joke. There’s no campaign involved and the only thing a voter will see is “Shall Judge Barbara McCarthy be retained in office?”

    A lot of good that will do, because the answer will always be “yes.” But then Judicial cannons prevent an opponent from running on her record of questionable sentencing. Looks like a job for an Alex Heckler ECO to me.

  3. Nogo says:

    No what should happen is mike satz should move to recuse boganshutz and or any other attorney who has represented a judge before the jqc or in any other capacity even campaign treasurer. Rumor has it the state waived a bogey conflict in the boulis murder case because bogey or his firm had repped Judge Holmes and word around sao is that there is a lot of crying going on because bogey is getting the close calls.

  4. loki says:

    I feel relieved I didn’t vote for her. Actually I was pretty suprised by some of her supporters. I can’t imagine they could or would support these two specific decisions. This must me a new fashion in florida. Let the murders go they need to make millions.

  5. Barack Obama says:

    It’s easy to use this post hoc reasoning viewed from a birds-eye view, but I doubt if each of us were actually in the courtroom that day we would be so dismissive of Judge McCarthy. Judge McCarthy does not have a reputation of a “pro-defendant” judge. Most likely the victim’s family came into court to testify this is what they wanted because of a cash settlement of a civil case.

    Why should they judge step in and change an agreement between the victim and defendant? What purpose does it serve the state to throw someone in jail/prison besides retribution, which the victims family in this case clearly did not want?

  6. Bob Rountree says:

    Gonot represented my district on the Deerfield Beach city commission, and he was a good, conscientious and responsive commissioner. Once I complained about an issue before the commission, and he took the time to respond with a personal full-page e-mail explaining his position. I was impressed that it wasn’t a canned response. Nevertheless, he did wrong by tapping his campaign account. The circumstances are very sad, his estranged wife having drained their joint account, and I think the judge should have taken that into account in his sentencing. He is a good man who made a mistake, violating the public trust, but probation, not jail, would have served justice.

  7. Barney says:

    Any politician that uses his campaign contribution account as a personal ATM deserves whatever they get. Steve Gonot got away with so many corrupt acts during his tenure that he should thank the stars that this is all he punishment he received.

  8. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    Actually I personally witnessed the entire trial and sentencing. In fact it was my email to the SAO that reopened the case, a move that ultimately sank the Gonot dingy.

    Gonot deserved the max sentence.

    He lied to the jury, stole from contributors, ripped off the taxpayer, and broke the public’s trust.

    He was lucky to only get a year.

  9. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    I agree with you…

    Continuing to debunk Rountree’s thought that Gonot was a good man.

    1) On his final 2001 Campaign Finance report, JailBird indicated a $500 contribution to a charitable organization. Only problem? Well two problems actually. First that charity didn’t exist. Second, the address of that non-existent charity was his Dad’s home address.

    2) On the stand in his defense, JailBird indicated that his 2005 campaign bought and then donated a desktop PC. Well, that’s news to us because that purchase and donation is not listed anywhere on any campaign finance statement.

    3) When JailBird was arrested in 2009, he had approximately $10,500 left over in his campaign fund. $10,000 of that went to a “charity” by the name of Miller Economic Development. Two problems here also. First, MED isn’t a legitimate 501. Second, JailBird learned about this organization from a talk with Sylvia Poitier.

    Again Rountree. Fuck you.

  10. Barney says:

    Brother Phil and his wife Kathy, owners of PMG should have an IRS microscope up their collective asses for their role. Making Steve’s paychecks out to DePrimo in order to hide his income from from his estranged wife? Highly illegal. The whole Gonot clan is a pack of thieves and liars. Especially Kathy, the only one of them with any cajones. Somewhere Pete Boinis is laughing his ass off that their shake-down of him failed. Greedy bastards.

  11. Tim Stevens ain't no genius says:

    Go get employment. You are a boring and you actually believe that people give a crap about what you say. Jeeesh.

  12. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    And to that point about those checks being made out to DePrimo…

    The Gonot supposedly “kept” these records literally on the back of a napkin. A napkin, I believe, they were unable to locate.

    Oh wait, don’t forget the 2005 Campaign $2,000 “phone” expense to PMG for … “phones”.

    And then, the nearly $5,000 check to Wil Derian for “campaign supplies”. Derian, for those unaware, is Gonot’s current landlord and once former business owner of the local head shop.

    Speaking of head, I wonder how long Steve will hold out when he’s locked behind bars.

  13. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Wait, one other thing.

    PMG sells itself out as an “economic consultant” to local and State governments.

    I ask you… What type of economic wizards keep track of checks on the back of a bevnap?

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Oh and Bob… To your comment about the estranged wife clearing out the joint account…

    If you took the time to read the court documents and/or attended the trial, you would have learned:

    1) The estranged wife actually left a couple grand in that account.

    2) That joint account was actually a $100K home equity line that JailBird opened up and was singlehandedly using to live a lifestyle outside of his unemployed ass means.

  15. SAM FIELDS says:

    Should public officials be punished more severely for the same act committed by a private person? And what exactly is are public actions?

    If a challenger to an incumbent public official commits the same campaign violation as the incumbent should he get off with a different/lesser punishment because he is not a public official?

    Political campaigns are NOT government activities. They are private activities that that require limited public reporting.

  16. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    All well and good.

    But in the end, Gonot got the long overdue ass-kicking he sorely deserved.

  17. Buddy says:

    I am not asking you to censor, simply remove or bleep out the foul language used by Mr Stevens. It reflects badly on you.


    Thanks for your comment.

    I have removed Chaz Stevens offensive comment, leaving others. I don’t believe they reflect the tone I try to maintain on Browardbeat.com.

  18. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    It occurred to me that we do hold our elected officials to a different standard – vis a vie slander/libel aka Sullivan v NY Times

  19. Phil Heck says:

    Classic Chaz:

    @ Comment 8

    Anytime any citizen dares express an opinion he doesn’t like, Chaz Stevens responds with a rude, obscene, libelous attack. In this case, the commenter (Bob Roundtree) is a veteran professional journalist. Roundtree only recounted his personal experience with Steve Gonot. How does this make him “a blithering fucking idiot of the first-degree”?

    Buddy should consider whether he wants to allow personal attacks and flooding on his blog. More than one commenter on the blogs have disappeared because of Chaz Stevens’ ad hominem posts, reducing the discussion to a pre-school level. Bob Norman has banned him from his blogs.

    Norman, incidentally, made a similar point on his blog with respect to Steve Gonot.

    @ Comment 11

    Also, Chaz Stevens lies when it suit his purpose.

    “I personally witnessed the entire trial and sentencing.”

    This is a bald-faced lie. Stevens was not present at the third day of trial when the state reopened its case, and the defense moved for dismissal and opened its case.

    @Sam Fields

    I don’t always agree with Fields, but he makes an excellent point in his comment.

  20. Dear Sam says:


    Why dont you tell us your thoughts on Bogey being able to represent Judges before the JQC and other matters then be able to come before the same Judges therefter withouth having to conflict off?

  21. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Oh Phil…

    Now I know who you are…

  22. Buddy says:


    I apologize to Browardbeat.com readers and Bob Roundtree for the uncivil and obscene remarks that Chaz Stevens made. I have removed them.

    Mr. Stevens is welcome to comment on anything here. Just keep it civil and leave out the X-Rated language.

    Buddy Nevins

    P.S.: I know and worked with Roundtree at the Sun-Sentinel. I actually ate lunch with him Friday, right before the comments in question.

    Check out his outdoor and travel website at http://www.floridarambler.com

  23. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear “Dear Sam”
    Re: Bogey and judicial recusal.

    There are unwaiveable reasons that require a judge to recuse him or herself. e.g. the murder victim was the judge’s brother or the judge has a financial interest in the case outcome or I am currently representing the judge or I am dating the judge.

    There are legally insufficient reasons such as: “the judge is a Libra and I am a Taurus.”

    Most issues are “waiveable” if the judge and the other side, having been informed of the issue, doesn’t object to the judge continuing the case. “I once represented the judge” or “I am on her campaign committee” or “five years ago he was my law partner.”

    This last category has been the consistent situation with Dave. The State has consistently waived.

    And as the say in the Hokey Pokey: “That’s what it’s all about”.

  24. Oodles says:

    Politicians who betray the public trust and forget who they work for should be boiled in oil.
    Zero tolerance for lawmakers who are lawbreakers.
    And yes, Ryan LeVin should have gone to state prison for at least 10 years for killing two human beings.

  25. Thanks Sam says:

    appreciate the answer,

    its a sweet gig if you can get it that old dave has.

  26. Death Frog 3 says:

    @ Thanks sam

    you too can get it. All you have to be is in the top 1% of your piers in intellect. Trustworthy enough that the rich and powerful feel comfortable telling you their secrets. Clever enough to surround yourself with the right people. then dedicate your life to your profession for 30+ years.

    I dont like the fact he is an example of getting the justice you can afford. I still respect him for building a great practice.

  27. COI says:

    No question how and why Dave got to where he is in this business. The current issue is after 30 years and having your thumb in everything at some point conflicts of interest naturally arise. Certainly he is not going to raise the conflict, the problem is with the Judges and Satz for giving these conflicts a pass.

    Lets face it if the Levin sentencing was 1 year ago its seems doubtful that months before an election it would have gone the same way.

  28. dk says:

    the judge followed the desires of the victims’ families in the levin sentencing. if the victims pushed for lengthy jail time, levin would have been in jail. the victims chose what they chose, and maybe you would do the same if you were in their shoes.

  29. Justice Fighter says:

    Wrong is wrong and Ryan Levin should be doing hard time in addition to paying money ,to set a example to other rich connected thugs that get by with whatever they want.
    This Judge and her family has ties to Scott Rothstein and other out for money thugs. If they are really as stupid and blind as they pretend they have no place in a real justice system. But this is south Florida rated number one in public corruption. Florida is big factor the US sank to 22 from the least corrupt countries in the world. Read the grand jury reports on Broward corruption.
    If the lawmakers and judges are being controlled by organized crime we must find a way to stop it before America falls.
    Florida can’t investigate this problem we must get help from other states deep undercover help. Does anyone know when we can see Ryan Levin’s picture in the Florida Department of Corrections website, they will likely have a picture of a black female for his picture if they ever post one. Just browse the sight it is funny to see how many don’t have picture and some don’t match the discription….
    Florida Joke of a Justice System it could be a best seller.

  30. McCrazy and friends says:

    To dk and others who think it’s Ok for a judge to merely give the victims what they ask for – what about public safety? Do we realize we are talking about a criminal with a long rap sheet of prior acts of vehicular carelessness?

    And, what about the other side of the coin? Let’s say the judge sides with victims who want a far too excessive punishment? I witnessed it first hand with McCarthy. Ten years to a first time non violent felony offender. Why you might ask? The victims she sided with are connected to her in more ways than one.

    Gotta respect the naïveté of this article though…