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, 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.

Statement by State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle

Miami (September 22, 2014) – “Today Dade County jurors once again confirmed that, as a community, we will not tolerate public corruption.  After listening to a week of testimony, these citizens quickly came to a conclusion that the law was broken.  I am proud of the work done by Assistant State Attorney Isis Perez, who with our crime fighting team from the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics, worked to gather the evidence to make this conviction possible.  As I have said before, we can win the fight against corruption, but it takes a partnership between committed citizens and law enforcement to get the job done.  This case had exactly that partnership.”

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
 

4TH ANNUAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING FORUM: COMBATING THE "GLAMOUR" AND DEMAND THROUGH MEDIA, EDUCATION AND SERVICES

1/26/15 - Miami, Florida - In observance of International Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle will host her Fourth Annual Community Forum on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, entitled "Combating the ‘Glamour’ and Demand of Human Trafficking through Media, Education and Services".

This year the forum is co-hosted by Pres. Donna Shalala at the University of Miami. This event brings community leaders, service providers and local, state and national law enforcement agencies together in our continued efforts to propose solutions in our mission to curb a crime that affects so many young and promising lives.

The forum is the brainchild of State Attorney Fernandez Rundle and is aimed at tackling instances of Human Trafficking in Miami-Dade County and South Florida. Through better awareness and legislation, it is the State Attorney’s hope that the victims of Human Trafficking can be more readily identified and the perpetrators prosecuted.