MIAMI-DADE OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY, 11th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
+ home
+about SAO
+services
+employment
+publications
+contact us
+¿quienes somos?

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, 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.”

23 Charged in Round-Up of Retail Theft Organization


23 individuals have been charged as a result of a  joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County Police Department and additional police agencies which included police activity as far north as the Orlando area.  Today, police were arresting all the members of this organized crime enterprise, from the shoplifting thieves through the various levels of middleman fences to the final retailer fences who sold the stolen goods to the unsuspecting public. This organization is estimated to have stolen some $15 million of merchandise.

A press conference detailing the arrests will be held at 2:00 p.m. In Room 418-S of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.  Also participating in today’s press conference will be the Miami-Dade County Police Department, Sheriff Jerry Demings of Orange County, representatives of the City Of  Doral Police Department, representatives of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, representatives of Homeland Security Investigations, representatives of Walgreens Pharmacy, representatives of CVS Pharmacy, representatives of Publix Supermarkets.  The Office of the State Attorney is in the E. R. Graham building located at 1350 NW 12th Avenue, Miami.   Please arrive early enough to obtain security clearance through the building’s security review process.

Fake Attorney Charged


The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announce the charging of Imer Armando Perez with 3 counts of Practicing Law Without a License and with Grand Theft 2nd Degree and Grand Theft 3rd Degree resulting from his actions in holding himself out as an attorney and taking cash for supposed legal activities.

In one incident, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office received, and forwarded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a retainer agreement between Imer Armando Perez and the family of convicted felon Scotty Posada.  Perez collected a total of $70,000 from Posada’s mother to gain the “guaranteed” release of Posada from state prison prior to the expiration of his 27 year sentence.  In reality, there are no legal actions pending before any court that would allow/facilitate such a release.

In another incident, Imer Armando Perez, holding himself out to be an attorney, represented an individual in traffic court for a $500 fee.  In a third incident, Perez approached an individual and offered his legal services as an attorney for a non-refundable $20,000 fee.

“It is always a shameful act when swindlers walk the halls of our courthouse taking advantage of individuals in need,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Guaranteeing a legal result, irrelevant of the existing evidence, is the surest sign that some sort of trickery is at play.  Don’t be a victim of a scam. If you have any concerns about your legal representation, you can always check a lawyer’s status with the Florida Bar.”

There appear to be indications that Imer Armando Perez may be a fugitive. If anyone knows the specific whereabouts of Imer Armando Perez or if others victimized by Perez wish to come forward, they may contact FDLE Special Agent Raul E. Perez at 786-336-1167

Woman Charged with 53 Counts of Animal Cruelty


“Gigi’s Rescue” Kept Animals in Squalid Warehouse


Miami (April 17, 2014) – A joint investigation undertaken by the Hialeah Police Department and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has led to the charging of Gisela Tacao with 53 Counts of Animal Cruelty, each count a 3rd degree felony crime.  Ms. Tacao had been operating her pet rescue operation, Gigi’s Rescue from a warehouse located at 269 West 24th Street in Hialeah since December 2010, indirectly receiving many dogs from the Miami-Dade Animal Services after other rescue groups provided the animals to Gigi’s Rescue.  Complaints based on the conditions at this site (specifically dealing with the visible presence of feces and urine throughout the building and the resulting stench that permeated the area) and based on the poor physical condition of the animals housed at the site (numbering anywhere between 100-200 animals), led to the eventual removal of the animals. 53 animals were given a physical examination which resulted in the 53 criminal charges.

Bond has been set at $5,000 per count resulting in a total Bond amount of $265,000.

“This case is a perfect example of the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “These animals were living in the worst of circumstances, sadly waiting to be rescued from their supposed rescuer. Such neglect is not a mistake, it is a crime.”