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, Terry Chavez 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

TERRY CHAVEZ Hispanic Media Relations Public Information Officer PHONE: 305-547-0535

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thef of County Gas for Private Use Leads to Officer's Arrest


Miami (May 18, 2015)  As a result of a joint Miami-Dade Police and Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigations, 16 year veteran Miami-Dade Police Sergeant Emil Van Lugo was arrested on Friday May 15, 2015.  He is charged with:
  • 1 count    Organized Fraud $20,000 or less     (3rd Degree Felony)
  • 5 counts     Petit Theft      (2nd Degree Misdemeanor)
This investigation arose from concerns that Sergeant Lugo was improperly using his Miami-Dade County access during the period from January 2015 through March 2015.  Not only was Sergeant Lugo fueling his vehicle at a fuel station rarely used by police officers (the 7900 SW 107 Avenue site was primarily utilized by the Solid Waste Department) but the computer records tracing the amounts of fuel consumed appeared to exceed the miles driven.  County gas access is intended to fuel county vehicles, in this case Sergeant Lugo’s official marked police vehicle.

The investigation involved video surveillance of both the county refueling station favored by Sergeant Lugo and at his home.  Surveillance showed gas cans, filled at the county refueling station being used to refuel a private vehicle at his residence.  The bond for this offense was set at $10,000.

“It is a shame that a veteran police officer would go out of his way to steal from Miami-Dade County just to save a few dollars on gasoline,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “A police officer, who would sell his good name and his integrity just to put gas into his wife’s car, tarnishes the reputation of every good officer on the force.  I applaud the actions of the Miami-Dade Police Department to investigate and correct this theft problem.”

“Integrity is the foundation of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and it is imperative that we maintain the community’s trust,” stated Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson.  “Anytime one of our officers tarnishes the badge we will hold them accountable to the law, in order to not jeopardize that trust.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Senate Passes Revenge Porn Legislation

Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is pleased to announce that the Senate has passed legislation making revenge porn a crime and providing stiff criminal and civil penalties for violators. The bill had previously been passed by the House and now awaits Governor Rick Scott’s signature.
 
“This significant legislation will strengthen our ability to prosecute the heinous crime that is revenge porn. I am very appreciative of the wonderful collaboration with our stakeholders and legislators, particularly former prosecutor and now State Representative Carlos Trujillo and the efforts of Senator David Simmons and State Representative Tom Goodson who co-sponsored this important bill,” commented State Attorney Fernandez Rundle.
 
State Attorney Fernandez Rundle worked tirelessly on this legislation with local stakeholders and advocacy groups, including Deborah Baker-Egozi, President of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and University of Miami Professor Mary Ann Franks. In Tallahassee, she met with the bill sponsors in both chambers as and worked together to find a common ground between the two bills.
 
The legislation specifically prohibits the posting of sexually explicit or nude photos of a person to an internet website without that person’s consent with the intent to cause emotional distress. It provides for substantial criminal penalties as well as the ability to pursue civil actions against violators. These actions include injunctive relief, monetary damages and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MISLABELING CITY & COUNTY GASOLINE FOR PROFIT


Amancio Alonso the owner and operator of MacMillan Oil and his corporate oil transporter, Hialeah Transport LLC, were each charged today with two counts of grand theft related to thefts from the City of Hialeah and from Miami-Dade Aviation.  Both the City of Hialeah and Miami-Dade Aviation were making purchases midgrade (89 octane) gasoline from MacMillan Oil.  An investigation revealed that MacMillan Oil purchased regular (87 octane) gasoline from Port Everglades and sold it to its customers as if it was midgrade (89 octane) gasoline thereby overbilling Hialeah and Miami-Dade Aviation about .07 cents per gallon purchased.  Documents obtained from the City of Hialeah revealed that the City of Hialeah was overbilled by $46,911.94.   Documents obtained from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department revealed that Miami-Dade Aviation Department was overbilled by $3,362.30.

“I wanted to congratulate the detectives from Miami-Dade Public Corruption Unit and the State Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force for putting together the pieces which led to these arrests.  With the consumption of this gasoline, it could have been a very difficult crime to uncover,” commentated Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Instead, we will be getting this money back to the City of Hialeah and Miami-Dade County.”

As part of the investigation, detectives from Miami-Dade Public Corruption Unit and the State Attorney’s Public Corruption Task Force responded to MacMillan Oil Company and executed a search warrant of the premises to obtain the relevant documents. Amancio Alonso also admitted knowing that his drivers were delivering regular gasoline but he and Hialeah Transport were charging for a higher grade of gasoline.  Alonso stated that this was done when there was an order for midgrade and the plant did not have enough of the midgrade blend. 

Alonso stated that none of the staff of MacMillan Oil’s billing department were aware of the overbilling and they would just submit a bill based on the documents they received from the driver.   Amancio Alonso was charged since he was the owner of both Hialeah Transport and MacMillan Oil, and was responsible for ordering the drivers employed by Hialeah Transport to falsify their delivery records.  Hialeah Transport was charged since it employed the drivers that falsified the delivery tickets to the City of Hialeah and to Miami-Dade Aviation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Report on the Shooting of Raymond Herisse Released


Miami –March 17, 2015
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has released an 86 page final report relating to the May 30, 2011 fatal shooting of Raymond Herisse.  The report provides extensive information relating to the variety of different crime scenes extending from the initial police contact at the 1600 block of Collins Avenue to the final incident at the intersection of 13th and Collins Avenue on Miami Beach.  Contained in the report are 62 witness summaries (32 civilian witnesses and 30 police officers) which provide a picture of the entire stream of events which ended with the shooting of Raymond Herisse.
As is done with the release of every report on a fatal police shooting, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office will be forwarding this report to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida for their review.           
The report can be accessed from the following location:
 
Below is a short summary of the report.
SUMMARY
On May 30, 2011, at approximately 3:50am, during the Memorial Day Urban Beach weekend, a Hialeah Police Officer, conducting a traffic stop in the 1600 block of Collins Avenue, attempted to arrest a driver for failure to obey lawful commands.  While fleeing the scene the driver, Raymond Herisse struck the officer and fled southbound on Collins Avenue at a high rate of speed in the northbound lane.  Officers in the 1500 block of Collins Avenue fired at the vehicle in an attempt to prevent any injury to persons in the area.  As Herisse drove south on Collins Avenue, he crashed into multiple occupied automobiles, at times driving on the crowded sidewalks.  Herisse also attempted to run over uniform police officers on bicycles who were forced to jump over barricades to avoid being struck.  Herrise ran over the bicycles moments after the officers jumped off.  Officers in the 1400 block of Collins Avenue also fired at Herisse to try to stop him from hitting them or anyone else in the area.  Unfortunately, because of the crowd of people who were in the area, three (3) civilian bystanders sustained gunshot injuries as a result of the police actions during this incident.
Herisse’s vehicle, a Hyundai, came to a stop at the intersection of 13th and Collins Avenue.  Although the vehicle stopped, Herisse did not turn off the engine.  Further, the off and on flashing of the brake lights indicated that the brake pedal was repeatedly being pressed and released.  Prior police radio transmissions to officers in the area indicated that Herisse had struck another officer, shots had been fired, and that he was fleeing at a high rate of speed.  Gunshots were audible throughout the area, but the officers at 13th Street did not know who was actually doing all of the shooting.  Approximately one minute after Herisse fled down Collins Avenue striking civilian cars, attempting to run over police officers, with shots being fired, the source being unknown, police officers surrounded the Sonata and commanded Herisse to stop moving and exit the vehicle for their protection.  Herisse did not comply with these commands and continued moving inside the vehicle, including a downward motion in what the officers would have reasonably perceived to be a threat.  Upon seeing these movements by Herisse inside the vehicle, several police officers discharged their weapons numerous times at the Herisse fatally wounding him.  A fully loaded 9mm firearm that was reported stolen in West Palm Beach in 2009 was found wrapped in a T-shirt on the rear passenger floorboard of the vehicle.
As with the other shooting event, a civilian was severely injured during this last shooting. 
Herisse was later found to have a blood alcohol content of .14.  It was also subsequently determined that Herisse had a suspended driver’s license.
The statutes applicable to the use of deadly force by police officers are ss. 776.05 and 776.012.  These statutes permit an officer to use deadly force when the officer believes it is necessary to defend him or herself or another from bodily harm while making an arrest, when necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice, or when the officer reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. 
The courts have recognized that “especially trained law enforcement officers, take risks when they think they are called upon to prevent imminent harm to person or property.  Efforts to prevent such harm sometimes cause injury to the officers or to bystanders.”  McClamma v. State, 138 So. 3d 578, 585-86 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). 
In each of the different shooting incidents, the evidence points to the conclusion that the officers did not commit a criminal act and were justified in the use of the deadly force they reasonably believed to be necessary to defend themselves from bodily harm or using while attempting to arrest Mr. Herisse, who was a fleeing from the commission of multiple felonies.
 

“Our Place” Bar Raided Due to Drugs and Gambling in Operation "ALL IN"

Miami (May 2, 2014)  A lengthy joint investigation involving the Miami Dade Police Department, the Opa-Locka Police Department, the State of Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Law Enforcement Bureau, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office   led to the arrest  15 individuals at the “Our Place Lounge,” a full liquor bar located at 6844 NW 169th Street (in unincorporated Miami-Dade County). The 4 ½ month long investigation, involving 24 cited undercover incidents at the bar, started after police received numerous complaints regarding illegal narcotics sales and organized gambling at the establishment.  Seized during this law enforcement action were: $13,200 in cash, 2 handguns, 45 grams of Cocaine, 5 grams of Marijuana, and 7 grams of Mollys (MDMA).

According to the arrest warrant Tracey Leanne Gelb, the bar’s owner, “uses the premises to facilitate an illegal gambling enterprise, which employs at least three individuals serving alcohol to the patrons of the gambling enterprise, (and employs) at least three individuals directly controlling the gaming.”  Gelb also “… allows at least six individuals to serve narcotics to the patrons of the gambling enterprise.  The individuals responsible for tending bar also act as conduit to the narcotics dealers whom are allowed to operate within the premises and as accessories to the dealing of stolen property.” Charged along with Gelb are:  Adrian Steven Valladares; Marcos Fortich, Alberto Jimenez (presently at large), Elmer Jimenez, Antonio C. Alvarez (presently at large), Anthony Mintonio Love (presently at large),   and David Gamboa.  The State of Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Law Enforcement Bureau seized the bar’s liquor license, immediately shutting down the bar, pending forfeiture proceedings.

The broad range of charges that are being filed include:  

Racketeering and Conspiracy to Racketeer, Gambling, Dealing In Stolen Property, Narcotics Distribution And Possession Of Untaxed Liquor against Tracey Leanne Gelb ($255, 000 bond). 

                        
Sale of Narcotics against David Gamboa ($162,000 bond), Adrian Steven Valladares ($50,000 bond), Marcos Fortich ($115,000 bond),  Alberto Jimenez   ($50,000 bond),  Elmer Jimenez ($80,000 bond),  Antonio C. Alvarez ($15,000 bond) and Anthony Mintonio Love ($7,500 bond)

Identity Thief Sentenced to Prison


Miami (June 19, 2014)   Ralph Celestin, the leader of  an Identity Theft Fraud and Income Tax Fraud Ring with at least 2500 victims has been sent to prison.  Personal identity information from some of the victims was used to file fake tax returns.   City of North Miami Beach Police Department (NMBPD) investigators, led by Detective Craig Catlin, believe that Celestin led the “Money Avenue” criminal fraud gang.  Upon executing a search warrant, NMBPD found ID and income tax information stored in multiple handwritten ledgers which provided Celestin’s fingerprints prints linking him to the crime.  

Ralph Celestin pled guilty to:

1 count of first degree felony ID theft
1 count of felony aggravated white collar crime
16 counts of second degree felony identity theft
36 counts of third degree felony identity theft.

Ralph Celestin was sentenced to a three year minimum mandatory sentence followed by ten years of reporting probation. Upon his initial surrender, he paid $80,000 in restitution that will be paid to the victims of his crimes and the Internal Revenue Service.

“Identity theft is not only one of the most frustrating crimes that out citizens have to confront, it is also one of the most frustrating crimes for us as prosecutors,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “This case shows that when investigators do all of the backbreaking case work needed to meet the requirements of our courts, police and prosecutors can get these slick new-wave thieves off of our streets.”

Cyber Bullying & Child Exploitation Concerns


Miami – August 1, 2014   Within the last 24 hours, social media accounts were created, soliciting South Florida users to send sexually explicit photographs of friends and acquaintances for publication without their consent.  Investigators believe that the creator of the accounts is located in Miami. The accounts are apparently related to the social media cyber-bullying campaign, “the purge.” The “purge” refers to the film that imagines the country making all crime legal for one night out of the year.

The State Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement are investigating the matter.

If you have any information with regards to the identity of the account poster or your photos have appeared online, please contact your local police agency. It appears that some of the victims affected by the incident believe that they have identified the suspect. These victims should notify local law enforcement and not approach or engage the suspect in any manner.