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.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

State Attorney Selected for Hispanic Distinction Award

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2016 Hispanic Woman of Distinction Award.

This year marks the 15th year that a charity luncheon and awards program is held to recognize Latina women who have contributed to their South Florida communities and represent a cross-section of creative disciplines that are changing the face of American culture. The annual event is presented by Latina Style Magazine, the nation’s leading Latina business publication, and Bank of America as well as a large number of corporate and media partners in South Florida. The charity selected this year to represent the event is the Light of the World Clinic, a free healthcare facility for the poor founded by the late Dr. Erwin M. Vasquez, a Venezuelan cardiologist.

The annual event recognizes distinguished women of Hispanic ethnicity who have made a significant contribution to the community while maintaining their culture and traditions. Nominations are submitted by former winners of the award and by local community leaders who submit names of Latinas who are eligible for the honor from Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
“It is an honor to be a recipient of the 2016 Hispanic Woman of Distinction Award,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “With Miami-Dade’s growing reputation as America’s Gateway to Latin America, it is important to recognize how Latina women are providing broad depth and direction to our multi-national community. The improvements each of these women have made to our South Florida community through their achievements adds another layer to our deep and rich cultural mix.”

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle will be presented with the Hispanic Woman of Distinction Award during a “Latin flavored” luncheon and awards ceremony on Friday, August 12, 2016, at the Signature Grand in Davie.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

County Employees Charged in Theft from Poverty Program


As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General (OIG), two employees with Miami-Dade County’s Community Action Agency (CAA), an agency within the County’s Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD), were charged with using their positions to fraudulently obtain funds intended to assist low-income individuals with paying their energy bills.
“Every theft by a governmental employee is a betrayal of the public trust.  It is particularly disappointing when workers charged with helping the poor steal some of that money for themselves,” noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “With the filing of criminal charges, I’m certain that these individuals now understand that they have committed serious offenses just to put a few extra dollars into their pockets.”
Miami-Dade County Inspector General Mary Cagle expressed her gratitude to those who come forward with information: “The OIG truly appreciates concerned citizens and well-intentioned County employees alerting us to fraudulent activities taking place in our County programs.  The criminal acts committed by these County employees deprive those who truly need the assistance of this worthwhile program.”  
A criminal investigation was initiated after the OIG received an anonymous complaint indicating that CAA employees Iraida Macias and Earlene Finney were circumventing the application process of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to personally obtain monies originally intended to assist low-income individuals with paying their energy bills.  LIHEAP is a federally-funded program administered locally by Miami-Dade County.  Macias and Finney, as LIHEAP eligibility interviewers whose job it was to determine if applicants met the income level limitations necessary to receive these financial benefits, were able to circumvent the oversight safeguards to receive money to which they were not eligible.
Between June 10, 2010 and September 4, 2012, Iraida Macias’ FPL account was credited with approximately $4,100.78 in LIHEAP funding. Records indicate that between 2010 and 2014, Earlene J. Finney, a supervisor who approves LIHEAP funding applications, received approximately $6,211.70 from the LIHEAP program.

The SAO and OIG joint investigation was also assisted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services OIG, who administer LIHEAP at the Federal level.

Iraida E. Macias has been charged with:

1 count of Official Misconduct, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Organized Scheme to Defraud, a 3rd Degree Felony

8 counts of Grand Theft, a 3rd Degree Felony


Earlene J. Finney has been charged with: 

1 count of Official Misconduct, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Petit Theft, a 1st Degree Misdemeanor

Friday, March 18, 2016

OFFENDER JAILED IN ‘REVENGE PORN’ CASE

Antonio Giansante Garcia, a 39 year old computer professional, pled guilty today to providing accessibility of nude and sexually explicit photos to his ex-girlfriend’s employer, supervisors and fellow workers. The goal of such actions was to embarrass the victim before her professional associates.

In a search warrant filed in February 2015, the victim had indicated that she had left Giansante in 2012  “…due to his jealousy and possessiveness toward her”, stating that the relationship was “unhealthy”. During their long-term relationship, Giansante had taken a number of unconsented nude photographs and explicit videos. Coworkers, their husbands, and supervisors were all made aware of this material via ‘friend’ requests from fraudulent Facebook accounts set up by I.T. professional Giansante. The victim was a minor at the time the photos and video were taken which allowed a criminal prosecution to proceed. The status of Florida law in 2015 would not have allowed criminal prosecution in that year had these same actions occurred and the victim been an adult.

“Revenge Porn is a tool for a spurned former partner, spouse or lover to gain power and control over someone,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “It is a means of breaking the will and destroying the reputation and self-image of someone the criminal claims to have loved. Mr. Giansante’s plan for dominance was spoiled by this victim’s courage in coming forward to prosecute this crime.”

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and a coalition of victim advocates were able to convince the Florida Legislature last year to enact legislation which now makes “revenge porn” a crime.

In a plea approved by the victim, Giansante will serve 30 days in the county jail and serve 5 years of reporting probation after pleading guilty 2 counts of Video Voyeurism, a third degree felony. Additionally, the defendant must inform his probation officer of any and all email and social media accounts to be used by him during the term of his probation, whether they are used for business or personal reasons and he read an apology letter written to the victim during his plea colloquy. Giansante was also ordered to donate $2,500 fines to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Project Phoenix of Camillus House, a new facility intended to assist victims of human trafficking.

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle should be available for media interviews later this afternoon. To schedule a sound byte, please call 305-547-0535.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Statement from State Attorney Regarding the Sentencing of Former Police Detective Karel Rosario


“Today in court, it was apparent that former police detective Karel Rosario had forgotten that to uphold the law, one must always obey the law. He admitted to dealing in stolen property.  His actions transformed him from a respected officer to nothing more than a common criminal. Hopefully, his upcoming time in prison will help him see the error of his actions.”
 
 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Boot Camp Case Manager Charged


As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Security and Internal Affairs Bureau, Christy Laster, a twelve (12) year Department of Corrections employee, has been arrested due to accumulated evidence related to the theft and extortion of more than $20,000 from Boot Camp Cadets.
Christy Laster has been charged with:
  • 6 counts         Bribery                              2nd  Degree Felony
  • 6 counts          Extortion                           2nd Degree Felony
  • 16 counts        Grand Theft                      3rd Degree Felony
  • 3 counts         Petit Theft                         1st  Degree Misdemeanor

The 35 year old Boot Camp case manager supervised cadets in the second phase of the program.  Initially, Boot Camp Cadets were held in-custody at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center for a period of four (4) months to complete a militarily regimented program plan.  During the Phase 2 portion of the program, cadets were released into the community and were required to be employed.  During this 60 day “Work Release Program”, cadets were not permitted to have cash in their possession and were required to pay the cost of programmatic supervision, usually a $10.00 per day fee.
The investigation indicated that Officer Laster would induce the cadets to give her their wages either under the guise of collecting the cost of supervision or threatening to have them violated out of the program and placed into custody.  The financial investigation verified the information supplied by the program cadets about the movement of cash to Christy Laster.  Further investigation revealed that Officer Christy Laster appeared to be a regular customer at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and experienced extensive gambling losses surpassing $38,000.
 “As a case manager, Officer Laster appears to have taught a hypocritical lesson to all of these cadets who were trying to go straight,” noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Now, it seems to be her time to learn the price that criminality exacts.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Couple Arrested in Illegal Slaughterhouse Case

As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Miami-Dade Police Department, undercover investigators from the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) group and officers from the Florida Wildlife Commission, 45 year old Angel Ricardo Vargas and 41 year old Mayelin Rodriguez were arrested and charged with felonies relating to operation of an illegal slaughterhouse at their residence at 19400 SW 136th Street, Miami-Dade County.

During an undercover investigation commencing on May 1, 2015 and ending today, undercover operatives visited the site on four (4) different occasions, often filming the acts of animal cruelty which entailed the repeated stabbing, hooking, dragging and boiling alive of animals intended to be sold to the purchasers who visited the residence.    These animal slaughter activities were occurring in a residential area of Miami-Dade County and were not permitted to occur by existing zoning and health laws. 

Angel Ricardo Vargas has immediately been charged with:
4 counts          Cruelty to Animals                                                          3rd  Degree Felony
1 count          Conspiracy to Commit Cruelty to Animals                     3rd  Degree Felony

Mayelin Rodriguez has immediately been charged with:
1 count            Cruelty to Animals                                                          3rd  Degree Felony
1 count          Conspiracy to Commit Cruelty to Animals                     3rd  Degree Felony

The on-site investigation has led to a variety of additional findings which may include the directing of potentially unhealthy meat into the food chain.  The discovery of industrial ovens at the site (photos attached in following email messages) and the filthy conditions have raised serious concerns which will need further investigation. 
“Anyone involved in the food industry knows that there are easily performed, painless ways to slaughter livestock for food. At these illegal slaughterhouses, it seem to be too much trouble to render the animals senseless”, commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Instead of following Florida’s Laws, Angel Ricardo Vargas, and his wife, Mayelin Rodriguez turned a part of their home into an animal house of horrors.   I applaud the partnership which allows my prosecutors, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Animal Recovery Mission to effectively shut down such ghastly operations.  Now we need to know if the meat from this site has been entering our local food chain.  That state and federal investigation is now ongoing.” 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Officer Karel Rosario Pleads Guilty in Search Warrant Jewel Theft


Suspended Miami Dade Police Department Detective Karel Rosario pled guilty today before Judge Teresa Pooler to the charge of Dealing in Stolen Property.  This charge arose from Rosario’s actions during the execution of a May 20, 2015 Federal search warrant at the residence of Mrs. Yulia Martinez which resulted in her being taken into custody.  It was during this incident that Detective Rosario took some very distinctive and expensive jewelry from the Martinez residence.

On May 27, 2015, Rosario was captured on video at the Seybold Jewelry Building meeting with a jeweler in an effort to sell a Cartier watch and Cartier style “Nail” bracelet. The uniqueness of the jewelry played a key role in Detective Rosario’s subsequent investigation by the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department and Rosario’s later arrest. Today’s plea to the court shows the effectiveness of the investigation and the strength of the criminal case.  

“Every police department depends on the integrity and professionalism of its officers,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Detective Rosario sold out his integrity the minute he picked up that jewelry.  He has let down the good people of Miami-Dade County and every professional police officer who risks death each day to uphold our laws.”