An Indiana woman who died in November requested in her last will and testament that her dog Bela be buried with her. One problem: Bela is still alive.
Brenda Charlestain was so angry when her husband called her from the Broward County Jail that she made a threat against the federal employee who wrote the sentencing recommendations for her husband, prosecutors said.
Charlestain said they misunderstood the phone call and she was actually trying to figure out who put a Voodoo curse on her husband.
After listening to the confusing, expletive-laden call and Charlestain's testimony in court Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow said she understood why prosecutors made the allegation, but the Voodoo explanation won out.
"I think her version makes more sense, based on what I heard," Snow said. "If you don't believe in Voodoo, this conversation makes no sense; if you do, it makes perfect sense."
The wife pleaded guilty to disposing of a firearm to a felon and food stamp fraud of close to $24,000. The husband pleaded guilty to weapon-related charges.
During the Aug. 22 recorded call, Brenda Charlestain expressed anger that her husband faced up to life in prison. She said someone called "Sego" could handle it.
Investigators said they believed that meant Sego would go after the female probation officer who calculated the recommended sentencing guidelines for Josny Charlestain.
But Brenda Charlestain testified Sego is her Voodoo priest in Orlando, though she doesn't know his last name. He has helped her by praying with her for seven days to clear curses, she said, adding that she suspected her husband's ex-girlfriend placed the curse.
Investigators arrested Brenda Charlestain on Friday at her law firm receptionist job, saying she violated the terms of her pre-sentencing release and she was jailed until Monday. But Snow found no proof of the threat and agreed to free her until her Thursday sentencing on the firearm and fraud charges.
Charlestain has bucked against restrictions on her freedom while out on bail, records show.
In July, her lawyer asked U.S. District Judge William Zloch to let Charlestain work as a dancer at South Florida strip clubs.
"Even with an electronic [ankle] monitor the defendant will be able to work and earn income as an adult entertainment dancer sufficient to support herself and her five children," attorney Jack Fleischman wrote.
Prosecutors objected, saying she violently attacked a dancer and struck her on the head with "the heel of a heavy high-heeled shoe" while working at "Sugardaddy's Adult Cabaret" strip club in West Palm Beach.
Though it's not illegal to work in adult entertainment, prosecutors said the "drug- and alcohol-fueled environment of strip clubs" was not conducive to a convicted felon's rehabilitation.
Judge Zloch rejected her request without explanation.
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