MIAMI-DADE OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY, 11th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
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The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is dedicated to providing accurate information to the public and media. If you are a member of the working media and would like an interview with the State Attorney, or you need information on a case, would like to talk to a specific assistant state attorney or are looking for an expert in a certain area of prosecution, please contact our public information officers Ed Griffith or Lissette Valdes-Valle.

ED GRIFFITH Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

LISSETTE VALDES-VALLE Hispanic Media Relations Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

Below you'll find recent news releases issued by this office.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

STATE ATTORNEY KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE HEADS TO ATLANTA FOR "PROSECUTORS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE" NATIONAL SUMMIT


Miami – October 21, 2014

Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is leading two important panel discussions at the “Prosecutors Against Gun Violence" national meeting today in Atlanta.

The group was formed to address the issue of gun violence in the United States as concerns mount over shootings and mass killings. Members include attorneys from several major metropolitan jurisdictions including Miami, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston and Milwaukee. The non-partisan coalition will focus on issues such as reducing gang violence, weapons trafficking, the connection between domestic violence and gun violence, and the link between mental illness and gun violence.

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle will head two panels, one focused on among other things, the trafficking of firearms and the enhancements that punish individuals for committing crimes while using a firearm. The second panel will focus on interventions in preventing mass shooting by persons who have mental health issues at which she will lead the discussion and highlight Miami Dade’s successful police Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

“Gun violence plagues every jurisdiction in America,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. This Summit is an effort to take ideas that have worked in different parts of the country and by sharing experiences and techniques, spread that success around. In this way, we can make a real difference.”

Sex Traffickers Charged with RICO For Luring Hungarian Men to Miami


Miami – October 3, 2014 

The Miami-Dade State Attorney Office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announce the arrest of Three Hungarian nationals Gabor Acs, Viktor Berki and Andras Janos Vass as principles in a criminal enterprise which lured young gay Hungarian men to the United States with the promise of quick, easy and legal cash.  Instead, the targeted young men, ages 20-22, found themselves prostituting and performing sex acts in front of a webcam to enrich Acs, Berki, and Vass.

“The overall attractiveness of our South Florida area is equally attractive to sex traffickers,” stated State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “These individuals may have come from a different country to exploit the vulnerable but they used the same basic trafficker tools of fear and intimidation to make their profits.  HSI’s law enforcement partnership with Dade prosecutors should send all traffickers a loud and clear message that we will not tolerate their actions here.”

“This case serves as a reminder that sex trafficking is not limited to any particular race, gender, age or sexual orientation,” said Alysa D. Erichs, special agent in charge of HSI Miami. “I commend the State Attorney’s Office for their support of HSI’s aggressive campaign to stop human trafficking happening right here in our community.”

Homeland Security Investigations began investigating this situation on October 26, 2013, when the HSI Tip Line received information that three males in Miami Beach were possible victims of human trafficking.  Originally landing in New York City and engaging in prostitution there, the three Hungarian nationals were relocated to Miami Beach by Acs, Berki, and Vass.  While on Miami Beach, these young men prostituted themselves and performed for as many as 18-20 hours a day.  All payments went to Acs, Berki and Vass. 

Once interviewed, the victims revealed that their traffickers used various techniques to keep them enslaved, including isolating them from others, withholding their travel and identification documents, and using financial manipulation to keep them in constant debt.  Specifically, the victims indicated that they were rarely allowed to leave their shared apartment and they were told it was because  they could not speak English and were not familiar with the area.  Acs, Berki and Vass also took the victims’ identification documents and locked them in a safe.  All communication with family members in Hungary was closely monitored by Acs and Berki.  The three men indicated that they had been threatened, psychologically intimidated and had experienced levels of violence at the hands of Acs, Berki, and Vass. All three indicated fear for the safety of their families in Hungary since Berki claimed to have been a police officer in Hungary and maintained connections there.  Additionally, Acs, Berki, and Vass had their family information readily available from the documents needed to come to America

31 year old GABOR ACS, 28 year old VIKTOR BERKI and 24 year old ANDRAS JANOS VASS aka JANOS ANDRAS VASS are each being charged with:

RICO/ Racketeering                                                           1st Degree Felony
Racketeering Conspiracy                                                1st Degree Felony
Human Trafficking of an Adult (3 counts)                   1st Degree Felony
Deriving Support from Prostitution                               3rd Degree Felony

2 charged with in 2013 Homestead Absentee Ballot Tampering Investigation



Miami - October 9, 2014

The Miami-Dade State Attorney Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department  announce the arrest of James Brady and Samuel Jean for their roles in tampering with the absentee ballots of Ms. Robkevia Scott, Ms. Betty Brockington, Taquesha Robinson  and Mr. Willie James Snead during the November 2013 City of Homestead Mayoral and City Council Elections.

“Criminal activities which aim to undermine our voting process should offend every citizen of Dade County”, commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “The actions of my prosecutors and the Miami-Dade Police Department to effectively charge those who try to steal any citizen’s vote show our deep commitment to clean and honest elections. This lengthy investigation aimed to bring all the facts and all of the evidence into the light of day for a sound prosecution.”

An investigation was initiated by the Miami-Dade Police Public Corruption Bureau/ Public Corruption Unit after Ms. Robkevia Scott, a resident of the City of Homestead, filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics.  In that complaint she alleged that James Brady and Samuel Jean, workers/volunteers for Homestead Mayoral Campaign Candidate Mark Bell, fraudulently deprived Ms. Scott and three of her relatives of their right to vote for the candidates of their choice. 

A series of conversations started on October 14, 2013 with Mark Bell campaign worker/volunteer Samuel Jean inquiring about the status of their four (4) absent ballots and making suggestions as to which candidates to support.  On  October 16, 2013, Mr. Jean and  Mark Bell campaign worker/volunteer Mr. James Brady returned to the Homestead residence,  met with all four Homestead residents and offered to assist them in filling out their absentee ballots.  According to Betty Brockington Mr. Jean and Mr. Brady filled out the absentee ballots for the family, after getting their input as to which candidates each person wanted to vote for and then attempted to have the ballot envelopes signed. Three of four family members did sign the ballots without reviewing the contents.  22-year-old Robkevia Scott, refused to sign the absentee ballot without reviewing the actual cast votes and took her vote back.

Only then did Ms. Scott notice that Mr. Jean and Mr. James Brady had chosen the candidates the family had specifically said it opposed in the Nov. 5 election: mayoral
candidate Mark Bell and council candidate Norman Hodge Jr.  The men left with the 3 ballots and Ms. Scott then contacted the authorities.  Upon getting a search warrant for the ballots, it was learned that the 3 ballots had been submitted and the same votes (for Mark Bell and Norman Hodge Jr.)  had been indicated.  Samuel Jean and James Brady denied filling out the absentee ballots but fingerprint evidence contradicted those claims.

With the recent return of Samuel Jean from Haiti, both Samuel Jean and James Brady are presently being charged with:

 Absentee Ballot Voting Violations - 3rd Degree Felony

 Violation of Section 12-14 (b) of the Code of MIami-Dade County (Absentee Ballots       Ordinance - 2nd Degree Misdemeanor


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Email Computer Scammers Pretend a SAO Connection - Want Cash and Financial Information


Miami (July 21, 2014)  State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle wanted to warn the public about a recent computer scam which tries to scare email recipients into sending $750 to a website in order to pay off an “alleged” debt.  Additionally, the computer thieves hope to acquire valid credit card information which they would use to further enrich themselves. 

“I’m outraged that thieves would hope to use the prosecutor’s office as a tool to get cash from terrified victims,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “We have already spoken to victims who almost fell for this scheme.  Only luck and good judgment saved them.”

The State Attorney’s Office (SAO) never communicates important information via email and would never be involved in debt collections.  Additional advice is to never electronically respond to situations that demand immediate action under threat of punishment.  If you have a concern about any debt collection, ask those contacting you to provide the documentation that substantiates the existence of the debt. 
Always be cautious with your email communications and simply do not open unsolicited e-mails from unfamiliar senders.  It appears that the false SAO emails may have originated in either Eastern Europe or in India, making it unlikely that U.S. law enforcement will be able arrest the scammers or get a return of lost monies.  Therefore, it is extremely important that individuals avoid being victimized at all costs

State Attorney Appointed to Statewide Council on Human Trafficking


Miami (July 11, 2014) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has been appointed to Florida’s Statewide Council On Human Trafficking by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.  The recently created Statewide Council will have an important role in developing and coordinating Florida’s efforts to fight sex trafficking and will help foster new approaches intended to help the victims of sex trafficking heal and reintegrate back into the community.

“Florida’s human trafficking victims would be invisible, if not for the commitment of a broad spectrum of advocacy groups and our law enforcement community. Raising awareness of the problem is the first step toward eliminating this modern sexual slavery. I am proud that our effort in Miami to create an innovative trauma informed prosecution model for Human Trafficking cases may become a model for the state and the country. I would like to thank the Attorney General for appointing me to this important statewide role on the Human Trafficking Council,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Unit has been a prosecutorial leader in this area of the law.  The Human Trafficking Unit has filed 236 criminal cases and is involved in over 106 open investigations. The permanent full-time dedicated staff that comprises this unit includes 2 prosecutors; a full-time investigator and a team of officers from various departments in our community; two  victim witness counselors; a paralegal and support staff who all working together to save and care for victims.

The recently launched “Stop the Sale of Our Children for Sex” awareness and hotline campaign uses billboards, bus shelters and other materials to inform the community on how to spot human trafficking and to report to our Human Trafficking Hotline: 305-350-5567.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Florida Legislature Passes Human Trafficking Legislation



Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle applauds the actions of the 2014 Florida Legislature for passing the additional Human Trafficking legislation she had proposed during her interactions with members of the Florida House and the Florida Senate.  “I am very proud of how responsive our Florida Legislature has been to the needs of Human Trafficking victims,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “They have seen the need to come down hard on those who would sell the childhood of our victims while recognizing the special steps it may require to rebuild the future of these victims.” Several of the criminal cases filed by my Human Trafficking Task Force contained conduct that so shocked our legislators (such as the “branding” via tattooing of young girls and the use of a 13 year old girl at a “strip club”) that specific prohibitions and requirements were created.

Among the accomplishments of the new legislation will be the prohibition on the employment of minors in adult theaters and “strip clubs”; the requirement that adult theaters and “strip clubs” verify the ages of employees and their independent contractors and maintain documentation of that proof; a revision of some of the penalties for various human trafficking offenses which can make a convicted repeat offender eligible for as much as a life sentence.  The legislation also provides sentence enhancements for the “branding” via tattooing of Human Trafficking victims while adding privacy protections to the victims of Human Trafficking by exempting information that reveals their identity of a victim similar to the protections given to the victims of sexual assaults.  Additionally, the Legislature provided Human Trafficking victims with access to Victims Crimes Compensation funds which also provide these victims a vehicle for possible relocation assistance. 

ILLEGAL SLAUGHTERHOUSE YIELDS ARREST


The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department have undertaken an action that has led to the arrest of Raul Fernandez a/k/a “Freaky”, the prime operator of an illegal slaughterhouse located in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.

 The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department became aware of a site operating within Miami-Dade County that was illegally slaughtering animals, and was doing so in a cruel and painful manner. Undercover videos were taken on December 24, 2013 and on December 30, 2013. Witnesses to these incidents saw the shooting, stabbing, gutting while alive of animals, beating, sledge-hammering to the head, dragging by mouth, and other cruel behavior to which the animals were subjected. On video surveillance, a pig can be seen being dragged, hook-mouthed through the jaw, at distances of approximately 150 feet, all while the animal remained alive.  Raul Fernandez is charged with 7 counts of Animal Cruelty which are third degree felonies.  The investigation of this case continues.


“When the Florida Legislature created the animal cruelty statute, they intended to end such brutal activities as were occurring at this illegal slaughterhouse,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “No legitimate slaughterhouse operator or any self-respecting farmer would treat his livestock in such a ghastly manner.”