When writing articles for my blog I try to find stories which are interesting, current, deal with cases in South Florida and hold the reader’s interest. In many cases the stories that are told are left incomplete before a final resolution has been decided.
In a variety of these articles, I’ll leave the reader with the words “check back here” for further updates. With that in mind I’ll bring readers up-to-date on some of the cases that were unresolved at the time of their original inception and their completion at the time they were written.
On May 28, 2017, I posted an article titled:
“Palm Beach County Men Plead Guilty to Terrorism Related Charges”.
This was a case of three men who had been arrested in an FBI sting operation that had been ongoing for approximately two years prior to their arrests. A veteran confidential informant (Confidential Human Source, CHS) was used by the Bureau who had worked for the FBI for nearly ten years. His participation was crucial in the hopes of gaining the men’s trust to the point that they would believe he shared their radical views. To read the original article which was posted at the time that two of the three men pleaded guilty, click the above title of the article, or click this link.
Although the guilty pleas were accepted more than a year ago, with the sentencing hearing originally scheduled for the following month, those familiar with our criminal justice system know that many circumstances may cause delays. It wasn’t until two months ago (May, 2018) that the sentencing was finally delivered.
Two of the three men, Dayne Antani Christian and Darren Arness Jackson, had pleaded guilty in April and May of 2017 respectively while the third man Gregory Hubbard; who was considered the main target of the case didn’t agree on his plea deal until February of this year. All three of the men ultimate pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. Hubbard additionally pleaded to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
When facing the judge at the sentencing hearing, all three men admitted they were either “stupid,” “selfish” or delusional when they cooked up their scheme to join the Islamic State. They all showed remorse for their actions and apparently swayed the judge enough to reduce the maximum time that they could have served.
Hubbard was sentenced to 12 years in prison while Christian who cooperated with prosecutors was given 8 years. Because Jackson’s involvement was considered limited, he was punished with a four-year prison term. They all faced a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison with Hubbard facing an additional ten years for being a felon in possession of a firearm when apprehended.
In a story that was posted on July 30, 2017 a man and his wife were arrested for numerous charges of sexual assault. The article was titled:
“South Florida Man and New Wife Charged with Sexual Assault of Her Sister”
Dale Leary of Cutler Bay and his wife Marta were charged with possession of child pornography, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 16, engaging in a sexual act with a familial child as well as contributing to the delinquency of a minor child.
The victim of the alleged crime was Leary’s new wife Marta’s sister.
In this article it was alleged that Leary, while being married to his first wife Claudia took in Marta San Jose, an exchange student from Spain. They used the CCI Greenheart Agency who specialized in clearing students to live in the United States from various foreign countries.
To read the original article, which was posted at the time of the couple’s arrest, click the above article title or follow this link.
When Marta reached her eighteenth birthday, Leary promptly divorced his wife Claudia and married the exchange student that had been living with them since 2012. Shortly after the marriage began Leary and his new wife Marta travelled overseas and spoke with her parents asking for her sister to travel from Spain to join them. At the time, her sister was 14 years old which is why her name will be protected. Her identity will only be known as R.S.
Marta’s parents didn’t know at the time that their daughter had married Leary
Claudia still lived in the house after the divorce was finalized and the sexual antics allegedly began. There is no solid proof at this time that Claudia was also involved in the crimes.
According to court documents, before long, after the sister’s arrival, the couple had sex with each other insisting that R.S. watch. Not long after that, they lured her to join in with their exploits.
Leary also allegedly took sexually explicit pictures of R.S., wearing nothing but high-heeled shoes while Marta observed the “photoshoot”.
Leary and Marta were arrested in June of that year for the charges listed above. Both pleaded not guilty to all charges the following month.
At their bail hearing the judge imposed a $150,000 bond on Marta including house arrest and Leary was given a bond of $200,000 plus in addition to house arrest. Dale bonded out in June, 2017; however, Marta remained in custody. At that point, Claudia was still not facing charges although she was a suspect of the investigation.
After Dale Leary’s release, he and his ex-wife apparently engaged in a suicide pact.
It’s unclear who called police emergency but when first responders and Detectives arrived they discovered a hose connected to the tail pipe of Leary’s vehicle threaded into the interior through a window. Leary was pronounced dead at the scene. His ex-wife Claudia was also found unconscious but was taken to a hospital where she recovered from carbon monoxide inhalation.
A litany of suicide notes were found in the vehicle as well as inside of the home. One written by Dale expressed his frustration at how his relationship with Marta was perceived.
He claimed that Marta was not at fault for the “photoshoot” with R.S. since he told her there was no film in the camera. He also asked his family to care for Marta after his death.
Marta’s bail was reduced after Leary’s death, and a stay away order from Claudia was issued, as well as the condition that Marta receives mental health treatment on a weekly basis.
Marta and R.S.’s mother returned to Spain with her youngest daughter, telling prosecutors she intended not to return, citing R.S. had already suffered enough and she did not want to subject her daughter to the workings of the American criminal justice system.
Citing that Marta San Jose was no more than a victim of her late husband’s sexual deviancy the defendant’s lawyer vowed to sue the foreign exchange program that had originally placed her with Dale Leary and his ex-wife Claudia. The CCI Greenheart Agency originally handled the transaction and paper work that placed Marta with Dale and Claudia Leary.
The case drew national attention to the foreign exchange student programs, questioning how Leary was able to host teenage females despite a prior conviction for sexual assault, and a home invasion conviction in the 1980’s. He was also previously accused of molesting his own sister-in-law.
At one point during the trial Marta’s frustration was in clear view when she reached a boiling point as she tried to push her way through a sea of reporters. She lashed out at a news cameraman on her way out of the Miami courtroom; slapped his equipment and was clearly heard angrily snapping at him the words “What the f**k” as she pushed her way past him and other members of the press.
The young Spaniard has been out on bail throughout her trial. Through her attorney she has claimed she was brainwashed by the older man who she took for a husband, who apparently had a Svengali hold on her.
At one point the prosecution offered the now 21-year-old a plea deal that only required she attend a state sponsored special pretrial intervention program for first time offenders. She and her attorneys flatly rejected the offer.
During the trial, one of her lawyers stated “A girl who never even had a boyfriend before. This man took advantage of her, brainwashed her and manipulated her. She should not be a defendant.”
During what turned out to be her final hearing early this May San Jose didn’t speak as her fate was seemingly being determined. But it appears her legal problems have concluded when prosecutors suddenly dropped all charges against her. But if her story is true and she wasn’t a willing accomplice, the psychological harm she’s undergone cannot be measured.
Michael B. Cohen, Esq. is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney who’s an expert in all charges related to state and federal criminal defense. His expertise as a former Assistant State Attorney for Broward County gives Mr. Cohen’s clients a clear advantage for obtaining a favorable outcome countering all charges alleged by the State of Florida or the federal government. His prior work for the prosecution, before establishing his criminal defense firm to the public has given him a superior advantage that will result positively for those charged with crimes of any type who seek his help.
Nearly twenty years of outstanding private practice criminal defense in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Palm Beaches as well as all neighboring counties in the surrounding areas of South Florida inclusive of his forty year career.