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Despite calls to PBSO captain, LWB neighborhood leader slapped with golf cart DUI

Updated: Mar 23


Jon Faust called PBSO Capt. Todd Baer on Feb. 25, 2024, minutes before he was arrested in downtown Lake Worth Beach for driving his golf cart under the influence. Faust has pleaded not guilty. (Screen grab from PBSO bodycam)

A PROMINENT LAKE Worth Beach businessman thought he had enough juice with the city’s top law-enforcement officer to avoid being arrested on a charge of driving a golf cart while drunk. 


He thought wrong.


Jon Faust, owner of a downtown real estate company and vice chairman of the city’s Neighborhood Association Presidents Council, was booked into the county jail last month on misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, refusing to submit to a sobriety test and resisting an officer’s order. He has pleaded not guilty. A hearing is scheduled for April 15. 


Faust’s case spotlights how golf carts, a rudimentary transportation option popular in many residential communities, are not immune from the state’s DUI laws, which are mainly used to crack down on impaired drivers of motor vehicles like cars and trucks.


And public records in his case show how Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies refused to be intimidated when Faust tried to thwart his arrest by reaching out to their boss, Capt. Todd Baer, PBSO’s highest-ranking official stationed in Lake Worth Beach.


Faust, 60, is no stranger around town. President of the Downtown Jewell Neighborhood Association, he has been a longtime officer with the NAPC, an influential group made up of the presidents of the city’s 17 neighborhood associations.


The NAPC organizes charity fundraisers and popular city events like the Great American Raft Race on the Fourth of July and the annual Great Taste of Lake Worth Beach tour of downtown restaurants. It also delves into city politics. 


NAPC officers over the years have run for City Commission, including Mayor Betty Resch; newly-elected District 3 Commissioner Mimi May, who on March 19 defeated incumbent Kim Stokes; and Craig Frost and Ryan Oblander, who in 2021 ran for seats now occupied by Commissioners Reinaldo Diaz and Chris McVoy, respectively.


Jon Faust, far left, offers remarks at City Commission candidates forum in January. (Facebook video screen grab.)

In January, Faust stood on stage at the Lake Worth Playhouse to offer opening and closing remarks at a City Commission candidates forum hosted by the NAPC.


He owns Coastline Realty at 511 Lake Ave. And he’s often seen at events with a camera strapped around his neck and driving his electric blue Icon golf cart around town. 


Around 7:40 p.m. on Feb. 25, the last day of the annual Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival, Faust tried to steer the golf cart left onto Lake Avenue from U.S. 1. The entrance to Lake was blocked by two city garbage trucks and “road closed” signs because the avenue had been closed to vehicular traffic all weekend while visitors watched artists create chalk images on the pavement. 


The golf cart, carrying two other passengers, turned left anyway, driving onto the sidewalk where two Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies, standing on the corner, ordered Faust to stop. 


“Yeah, whatever. F—- you,’’ Faust replied before he took off eastbound, “almost striking” one of the deputies, and “drove at a high rate of speed into a large crowd of pedestrians” on the avenue, according to a PBSO probable cause affidavit


The golf cart, tricked out with blue light poles extending from its roof, went three blocks before finally stopping under orders from other deputies just west of L Street. No one was hurt. 


When Deputy Michael Gruber asked Faust for his driver’s license, Faust pulled out his cellphone and started scanning for a phone number. He “ignored the command at first and had to be asked multiple times to present it as he was trying to call my commanding officer,’’ Gruber said in a report.  


Video from deputies’ body cameras offers more details of Faust’s interactions with the officers. (Click arrow at bottom left to activate video.)




“I gave you a lawful order not to drive on the street,’’ Gruber says after introducing himself. “That was me standing down there telling you ‘Please don't drive on the road’ and you said, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ I need your license.’’ 


Faust makes no effort to get his license. He continues scanning his smartphone for another few seconds before saying, “Can I make one phone call real quick?’’ 


“Is that to Capt. Baer?” Gruber asks.


“Yes, it is.’’


“I'm sure that he’ll agree,’’ Gruber says. “But I still need your license. No matter what the captain says, I'm still going to issue a citation.’’ 


“You‘re going to issue a citation because I'm a business here and the event’s over,’’ Faust says.


“The event is not over,’’ Gruber says before Faust interrupts him and says: “The event is over at 6 o’clock.’’


“OK,’’ Gruber says, “I need you to give me your license. That's a lawful order.’’ 


“I will, I will, I will give it to you,’’ Faust says as he continues working his cell phone.  


“Right now,’’ Gruber says. “Not to call the captain. Right now.’’ 


“No, I’m going to call the captain, regardless,’’ Faust says, pulling his wallet from his back pocket while clutching his phone in his other hand.  


“That’s OK. You can do that. He’ll call me, too,’’ Gruber says before taking Faust’s license. 


A few minutes later, Faust stands on the sidewalk working his cell phone, occasionally interacting with deputies. 


“I’ve been here 35 years,’’ he tells deputies, referring to his real-estate office one block west of where deputies stopped him. 


“You still can’t drive down a road that's closed,’’ Gruber says.


“Uhhhh, no, it was open. You let me in over there,’’ Faust says.


“I did not let you in,’’ says Gruber.


“It's your problem,’’ Faust says. “You let me in over there, so that's your problem.’’


At 7:45 p.m. Faust can be seen talking into his cellphone and then walking over to four deputies and saying, “Capt. Baer wants one of you to call him.’’



In the video, the deputies appear to be unfazed by the comment. 


About six minutes later, as Faust is leaning against a street pole with his phone to his ear, Gruber tells him, “I just talked to the captain. You can quit calling him. I talked to him. Everything’s OK, OK?’’


“Awesome,’’ Faust says. “Thank you.’’ 


“So, we are going to walk over here,’’ Gruber continues before being interrupted by Faust.


“So I can turn right at that intersection and go to my office that I’ve owned on this street for 35 years,’’ Faust says. 


“No,” Gruber says. “We’re actually going to walk over here and I’m going to (inaudible) you for DUI.’’


At 8:20 p.m., after performing a series of sobriety tests on South L Street just south of Lake Avenue, Faust was handcuffed. Deputies emptied his pants pockets and handed his wallet, phone and keys to his wife, who by then had arrived on scene after Faust called her. 



Before he was led into the back of a patrol car, Faust said: “Call Capt. Baer. Call the mayor. Called the mayor, call all the commissioners and ask why somebody let me onto Lake Avenue and now they’re not letting me off of Lake Avenue.’’ (It’s unclear if Faust, on the body cam video, says “call” or “called.”)


At PBSO’s BAT facility, he refused to submit to a breath-alcohol test, a report says. He was released the next morning after posting a $1,000 bond.


Jon Faust after he was booked Feb. 26, 2024. (PBSO)

Reached Wednesday, Faust said he could not comment on the advice of his attorney.


Baer, in an interview with ByJoeCapozzi.com, said he has known Faust on a professional basis for nearly nine years. Although Baer said he often sees Faust at city events and neighborhood functions, he does not consider him a personal friend.


“Why he has my cell number is a good question,’’ Baer said. 


Baer said he doesn’t make a habit of sharing his cell number with people other than city officials. But he didn’t rule out the possibility that he gave it to Faust when he first arrived in Lake Worth Beach. Faust was chairman of the NAPC in 2015 when the association that summer hosted a welcoming reception for Baer, who replaced the outgoing captain, Rolando Silva. 

Baer said he was at home watching a movie with his wife on Feb. 25 when Faust called “a few times and told me he’d gotten stopped. I let it go to voicemail and he kept calling so I finally answered it. I don't remember verbatim, and I don't want to talk about an open case, but basically I told him he should cooperate with the deputies.’’ 


Baer added, “I did not tell him to have the deputies call me. He said, ‘The deputies are here. Do you want to talk to them?’ I said, ‘No, if they need me they will call me.’ And then I did hear him say words to the effect of ‘Capt. Baer wants you to call him.’ I did not say that. He may have interpreted it that way based on all the circumstances, but no. I did eventually get a call from one of the deputies on scene and I told him, ‘Do what you've got to do.’’’ 


PBSO Capt. Todd Baer (PBSO)

Baer said he didn’t know how often PBSO arrests golf cart drivers for DUI. County and state traffic records don’t differentiate between vehicle types. 


But Faust hasn’t been the only person arrested for DUI while operating a golf cart in Florida. In recent years, arrests have been made in places like the Villages and Key West, according to media reports.

Golf carts are getting more and more popular as a means of transportation in residential areas of Lake Worth Beach, Baer said. But he said he doesn’t think they present safety issues like they do in other communities.


“Here, you see a few downtown with common well-known citizens like Faust, who has one,’’ Baer said. “But I don't see them as nearly the problem they are in places like North Palm Beach or Abacoa in Jupiter where it seems like everybody has a golf cart and everybody drives it on the road.’’


At a Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency board meeting on Feb. 15, Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Reinaldo Diaz shared his concerns about golf carts. 


“I can't speak for any other community that has these things but at least in ours it seems like the golf cart culture is really tied to drinking, to put it bluntly,’’ said Diaz, a TPA board member “It seems that a lot of people driving these vehicles seem to kind of push the boundaries on whether it's acceptable to operate them while impaired.’’


Diaz made his comments after County Commissioner Gregg Weiss asked TPA staff if they have statistics on crashes involving golf carts, motor scooters and electric bicycles. 


“We haven't tracked those closely,’’ said Brian Ruscher, the TPA’s deputy director of multimodal development. “We can look into it and see if current data would allow us to separate them out.’’


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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.





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