Rotary Club of Fernandina Beach
Club 4360, District 6970

 


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Perspectives of an Assistant State Attorney

Mark Borello, Assistant State Attorney

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Assistant State Attorney Mark Borello might have opened his presentation with a joke about baseball, but he admitted he did so because the rest of his talk was no laughing matter.  Borello, who has spent 25 years as a prosecutor serving under three state attorneys, did have some good news to share.  He spoke of the positive changes the state attorney’s office has undergone since Angela Corey took office in 2008, returning to its core function of prosecuting violent crimes more aggressively.  The office has increased its prosecution rate for crimes such as armed robbery, murder and violent assault  from 45 to 65 percent, which has resulted in a nearly 25 percent drop in the overall crime rate in the Fourth Judicial Circuit covering Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties.  In fact, Borello said, Corey has actually been criticized for filling up Jacksonville’s jails.  But he pointed out that the office focused on putting away violent criminals rather than those who had committed non-violent crimes.  As he said, jail should be reserved for those who are dangerous.

Borello then turned to an area of crime that often results in great tragedy for both the perpetrators and their victims – traffic-related homicides.  He defined traffic homicides as DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.  He believes these crimes can be deterred by sending a strong message that the district attorney’s office will deal harshly with offenders and will mete out tough sentences.  He noted that he has focused his efforts toward getting this message out, particularly to high school students and teens.

Borello then introduced one of the methods his office uses with teens and young adults to get the message across about the consequences of drinking and driving – a 20-minute video called “Wasted Teens, Wasted Lives.”  The video, which is shown whenever possible to high school assemblies and youth groups, follows the tragic experience of Daniel Farren through his own words and those of his family and the family of the teen who was killed.  Daniel and his friends had just graduated from Mandarin High School and were celebrating by drinking a few beers.  Since Daniel had only consumed two beers, he decided it was okay for him to drive and took the wheel of his friend Bobby’s BMW with the other three boys along for the ride.   Daniel slammed into a tree at 80 miles per hour.  He and two of the others were uninjured, but his friend Bobby suffered a massive brain injury and later died.  Despite the fact that Daniel’s blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit for drunk driving, he had caused a death and was sentenced to five years in prison.

At the end of the video, Borello pointed out that traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens and that one-third of all such accidents are alcohol or drug related.  He said that in addition to harsher prosecution and stiffer sentences for DUI-related offenses, the district attorney’s office also goes after the sources of alcohol sold to minors, prosecuting store owners who sell to teenagers and even parents who allow underage drinking at “sanctioned” house parties.

Borello closed by saying his office will provide the video as well as live presentations by both 
DUI offenders and victims whenever requested by school districts or youth organizations as he strongly believes it provides a compelling message about how drinking and driving can destroy far too many lives.