(Right to left: Hassan Jones/Terry Utter/Antonio Francula)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Some people still think that an area like Boca Raton, Florida is basically immune to things like drug addiction run rampant or felons running the streets. Most people when you say Boca Raton think of retirement and golf courses, or shopping malls and spas. But what if that stigma was shattered, and we replaced the club houses with drug houses?
When something seems like a little insignificant thing, I know plenty of people who call these luxury problems ‘Boca Problems’, but what if there were more things to take into consideration. Well after a few things have happened in the past year, this weekend’s SWAT raid shows us just that when you think you know the mean streets of Boca Raton, there goes the neighborhood.
Details on SWAT Raid
This past weekend there was a supposed SWAT raid on a “drug house” in the West Sandalfoot trailers of the Watergate Estates. Friday night it was estimated that about 10 Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) squad cars and 2 armored SWAT trucks were involved in the arrests of 3 multiple felons . The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office shows three arrests that fit the description of this incident, and the details have been pieced together by some local media.
The 3 that have been allegedly linked to this crime are:
- 42 year old Hassan Jones
Jones faces two drug charges, including felony drug possession with intent to sell.
- 59 year old Terry Utter
Utter is charged with two felony drug possession counts (cocaine and another drug without a prescription) and one misdemeanor count for possession of drug equipment.
- 25 year old Antonio Francula
Jones and Utter were both booked shortly after midnight this past Friday. Both reports on Jones and Utter were written up with the same address on Atlantic Circle, which is near the west end of Sandalfoot Blvd where it meets Tradewind.
The arrest report on Francula stated that he was arrested within minutes of the other two. He was also booked on drug charges, along with resisting an officer without violence, which probably indicates that he led officers on a slight chase from the scene of the raid before being apprehended. This however is purely speculation.
For anyone who has any doubts about the kind of neighborhoods these things happen in, don’t be too surprised to hear that Francula’s reported address is in the city in East Boca. Now the arresting agency is PBSO, which does not operate in the city of Boca. When taking that and the timing into account, there’s a substantial chance he was part of the initial SWAT related incident.
At this point Francula remains in custody, while Jones and Utter were released Saturday evening. Hopefully the two do not go starting any more immediate trouble, and maybe while locked up Francula will have some time to reflect.
The Unusual Suspects
These are no first time criminals living in Boca either. Jones’ would be facing his sixth felony with this arrest. He’s had 4 other cases in this county since back in 1998, including a traffic felony in Broward from 2012, and another with 5 prior minor criminal charges there. For Jones alone a few of his more prominent arrests include:
- In 1998 grand theft and he got probation
- In 2003 he got 30 days in jail on felony drug charges
- In 2011 he did a short county jail stint on a misdemeanor drug charge
- In 2012 he got four months for two grand theft felonies
Terry Utter had a little bit less baggage on her record. She was charged with a felony drug arrest in 2012 that was later dropped by the prosecutors. Then there was a felony cocaine arrest in 2013 after which she was sentenced to a day in jail that she had already served.
Francula on the other hand has his own track record to show off, and for some of those who think that crime is limited to a certain neighborhood; Boca Raton is not only for the retired and the well to do. Francula’s record includes:
- 2008 he had a robbery felony and he completed his probation for that in 2012.
- 2013 he was arrested for a misdemeanor retail theft and paid a fine (no jail sentence). A few months later he had another misdemeanor theft charge and got 4 days jail time.
- Earlier this month he was arrested for burglarizing a car and that case is still pending.
Living down the Street from Stigma
The point that this is trying to make is pretty simple, not just to be informative, but to highlight the fact that no specific area is absolutely without exposure to the suffering of addiction. Some people may still live down the street from someone who they hold up to a stigma for no real reason, while the real addict lives right next door.
Boca Raton is a beautiful area, and there are a lot of beautiful properties and luxury homes in the area, but I can personally say I know of dozens of addicts and alcoholics living there, many of whom are functioning and happy members of society. There are halfway houses, and there are drug houses in Boca as well. No neighborhood or social class is immune to the disease of addiction, but too many people let stigma convince them otherwise.
Not every addict or alcoholic looks the same and lives in a slum. Not every addict or alcoholic chooses to do the right thing, regardless of what areas they live in. But there is a choice that is never too late to make. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addicrion, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135