PA con man caged in Houston, faces long sentence
Also in this edition:
Ferry service from Tampa to Riviera Maya?
Tree planting Wednesday
Food fest in photos
Problem vessel leaves port forever
Dengue fever vaccine on way
LOOK FOR SPECIAL GOLF TOURNEY REPORT NEXT WEEK
Ballow took some marks here in PA
Posted 4/16/2011 by Pelican Paulie
The slick tongued former SiSiSi Restaurant operator here and convicted swindler Harris Dempsey “Butch” or “Bubba” Ballow , 68, who has more names than a Who’s Who, has been extradited to Houston to face charges that could possibly put him behind bars for the rest of his life. He arrived in the States last Friday from Mexico accompanied by U.S. marshals after being on the run for six years.
Ballow, a/k/a John Gel, Tom Brown, Marty Twinley among other easy-to-spell noms de scam,apparently employed the former SiSiSi Restaurant here as a teaser front while he plied his ugly trade. He is charged with a number of so-called “white collar” crimes of money laundering, wire fraud, conspiracy and assorted stock scams that ensnared a few PA residents according to sources here that wish to remain unnamed. The value of his swindles has been put at $10.5 million, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.
While living here, Ballow was a fugitive from U.S. justice, having been convicted of telephone scams and fraud, getting bail then fleeing the country. He lived in PA from 2008 until absconding overnight in July 2009 to Puerto Vallarta with $5 million from a Texas investor , cash that helped him live his accustomed high life. He now faces some old charges in addition to new ones in Houston. It is believed that while in Texas, Ballow attended and gave generously to a church, where he subsequently found some cash believers in him.
The new accusations involved a company known as E-Sol International Corp.,whose stock he sold in the millions to unsuspecting marks, and taking money from people who thought they were investing in a resort, presumably PA or nearby. He faces a 20-year sentence if convicted of the new charges accrued while he was on the lam, in addition to whatever sentence meted out for the previous charges.
Ballow allegedly did not act alone. Five co-defendants face trial in August and three others remain at-large.
According to the blog Houston Legal, co-defendants include his wife, Robin Harless Ballows, 57, Reuben Garza Perez, 50; Kelly Lynn Boothe, 44, all of Texas, and Jeffrey Janssen Anuth, 52, of Cancun. Others named with Ballows in a second indictment include Pattrick Lanier, 62; Christopher Harless, 57; Sikiru Olumbunmi “Tony” Bonojo, 40 and James David Wright, 40, all of Texas, and Clarence Hudgins Jr., 54, of Oregon.
Tampa to Progreso ferry service being explored
Greater Puerto Aventuras residents – snowbirds, expats, businesses – that might be interested in a ferry service from Tampa, Fla., to the container port city of Progreso, Mex., some 30 minutes north of Merida on the Gulf of Mexico, are being asked to email responses to nine questions firstname.lastname@example.org to help promoters of the ferry convince investors the idea is financially viable. The questions:
1. How many people are in your group?
2. How many months of the year do you live on the Yucatan peninsula?
3. Will you use a ferry service if it is available from Tampa, FL to Progreso, Yucatan?
4. If so, how many times a year would you use this service?
5. Will you bring a vehicle on the ferry?
6. If so, what kind of vehicle, ie, car, SUV, RV, motorcycle?
7. Are you interested in cargo shipment?
8. Are you interested in pet service?
9. Do you want your email address on a mailing list with news of the ferry service and other Progreso news?
The email address belongs to Tamara Magnusson, who was contacted by Fernando Pereira, commercial manager of the Port of Progreso, for assistance in collecting as much demographic data as possible in an area where such data is not easily accessible and at best inaccurate, she inferred.
Tampa Port Authority director and CEO Richard Wainio said on March 15, the port has been in talks with “two serious contenders” for the ferry service that could ultimately include a Cuban stopover. Other sources have indicated the companies are United Caribbean Lines and United Americas Shipping Co.
Talk of the possible service is already growing among backpackers, although information on costs is lacking.
Travelers from the U.S. and Canadian eastern seaboards with a car and lots of baggage to haul could drive to Lorton, VA, just outside Washington D.C. and board the Amtrak Auto Train for a roughly 16-hour overnight trip to Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, drive cross-state around the Land o’ Lakes area to Tampa and board the ferry to Progreso for the roughly 36 hour trip across the Gulf and make it to Puerto Aventuras from Progreso in about four hours.
A few experienced travelers say it may be easier and perhaps cheaper to drive around the Gulf of Mexico than to ship a car by ferry, providing one has the time. There was a ferry operating out of Tampa to Puerto Morelos, the Scotia Prince, that ended operations about five years ago reportedly over failure of the Mexican port to dredge so the ferry would not have to wait on tides to dock or set sail.
One passenger’s experience on the ferry Scotia Prince that delivered cars, passengers from Tampa to Puerto Morelos
posted 4/16/2011 by Linda Gosslin
I don’t recall what year it was, the year that the Scotia Prince sailed the route from Tampa to Puerto Morelos and Tampa to Progreso. It was sometime in the early 2000s. What I do remember is that I left on a Wednesday night at 6 p.m. from the dock at Puerto Morelos.
The ship was very nicely appointed. For such a relatively small ship it had a lot more amenities than I expected. My stateroom was set up for one, so I had plenty of room, and it was very clean. My luggage was delivered to my stateroom. There was an elevator from the lowest deck, where boarding occurred and vehicles parked, up to the stateroom level and on up to the restaurant/shopping level.
The dining room was lovely, coming close to Carnival Cruises in it’s abundance and quality. The next day, Thursday, was Thanksgiving. We were treated to an amazing meal with not only turkey but ham and roast beef. There were all the trimmings, as well as starched linens and excellent service from the waiters.
Another lovely feature of the ship was the store. It was well-stocked with liquor, jewelry, games, toys, clothing and other merchandise. It was a little too cool for the outside bar to be in operation, but the passage was smooth. We woke up Friday morning to find ourselves docked in Tampa.
The reverse trip went just as smoothly. I had bought a car in Tampa and transported it back to Mexico on the ferry. Again we enjoyed excellent meals and service. At that time a vehicle registration station was set up at the Puerto Morelos dock, so that we were able to import our vehicles as we departed the ferry. It took less than an hour to be on the road to Paamul.
I had such an excellent experience using the ferry service that I am very much hoping it can be reinstated. It would be a huge benefit to all of us who love to spend time in this area, but need to travel to the U.S. periodically. (Ed. Note: Linda Gosslin is a long-time resident of Paamul and is a volunteer at the library in Puerto Aventuras.)
Food fest in photos; more than 400 get ‘fed up’
FROM LEFT BELOW TOP are PA friends from Akumal Steve and Sharon Wandler, John May and and Isabel Schober who seem ready for seconds, while in center, a table of locals enjoy the afternoon and the vocals, at right, of Paula Liebe of Playa del Carmen.
FOOD LINES above left, waiting for Argentine fare. In center, Victor and Pamela Ponce de Leon of Agricola Jiem of Playa, serve out fruit at the beginning of the chow line, while, at right, the most ornate container of the day sits quietly on a table leaving folks to wonder what’s in it. Below, servers representing the Dominican Republic table offer up a dance as well.
TREE PLANTING SET FOR 6 P.M. WEDNESDAY IN POBLADO
The Puerto Aventuras Community Park Committee is inviting residents to a tree-planting ceremony to be held at 6 p.m.Wednesday (April 20) in the Poblado sports field and be part of the United Nations’ plant-for-the-planet program. The local ceremony is aimed at planting trees, raised by Calica, in the playing field and around schools in the Poblado. The poster at right tells it all:
DENGUE VACCINE, the first ever, should be ready in four years, according to a report out of Mexico City. Dengue fever is carried by mosquitoes, most of which show up in the hot, wet months here…THREE ARRESTED in Cancun last week for the robbery-murder of a cab driver…BASIC CAB FARES up to 23 pesos in Cancun, drawing the ire of the poorest people who need them to shop and get to work…MEXICO RANKS SIXTH of world countries in the use of social networking…U.S. CONSUL warns about riding buses in northern Mexico after one American was kidnapped by gangs targeting buses for robberies and intelligence that gangs are beginning to specifically target visitors…SPRING BREAK was no break for Acapulco this year which was shunned by U.S. students because of the violence there. One thousand people were killed there last year in gruesome drug violence…MOODY’S has joined Fitch in downgrading Q. Roo’s credit rating for having increased debt load and consecutive fiscal deficits…BRUSH FIRES have consumed 820 hectares of brush in Q. Roo this week as officials wonder if some fires were set to make way for various developments as previously occurred in Cancun…EASTER SCHOOL VACATGION is here…