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, 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.

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.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Halloween Carjacker Arrested

After an intense joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Coral Gables Police Department and the Miami Police Department, the suspect in the Halloween armed carjacking and shooting of a teenage couple, previously identified as Luis Alberto Basalo, has been taken into police custody.    The carjacking and shooting took place in the 400 block of Rosario Avenue in Coral Gables, Florida.

“I am overjoyed that the intense collaboration between one of my senior violent crimes prosecutors, the Coral Gables Police Department and the Miami Police Department has led to this individual being taken into custody.  It is only a matter of luck that these two young victims were not fatally assaulted.  The process of developing the proper and appropriate criminal charges is now underway”, commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

 

Clinic Owner & Patient Broker Arrested in Insurance Fraud Scam


As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, 55 year old Violeta Otero, the owner and operator of the Sunshine Wellness Clinic and 52 year old Ida Mercado Rico, a patient broker, were charged in an insurance fraud scheme which targeted the Miami-Dade School System by defrauding its self-insurance plan. 

Utilizing forms previously completed at the Sunshine Wellness Clinic, insurance accounts of a number of Miami-Dade School District patients were filed for medical treatments and injections which never occurred.  Many of these patients were initially recruited to come to the clinic by Ida Mercado Rico and were often paid in cash by Ida Mercado Rico.

Violeta Otero has been charged with:

1 count            Organized Scheme to Defraud                  1st Degree Felony
166 counts      Grand Theft                                                 3rd  Degree Felony
166 counts       False and Fraudulent Insurance Claims   3rd  Degree Felony
 
Ida Mercado Rico has been charged with:
1 count            Organized Scheme to Defraud                  1st Degree Felony
77 counts        Grand Theft                                                 3rd  Degree Felony
77 counts         False and Fraudulent Insurance Claims   3rd  Degree Felony
4 counts           Patient Brokering                                        3rd  Degree Felony

“Insurance fraud is an attack on every individual on every person who pays an insurance premium”, commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle “ Insurance fraud scams that steal from our public school system take dollars intended to make our schools function, dollars that can educate our children, and put those dollars into the pockets of thieves.  I applaud this partnership which allows my prosecutors and the Miami-Dade Schools Police to effectively shut down such swindlers.”

“Protecting the interest of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, our students, and employees is paramount,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho. “Today’s arrest of individuals who sought to defraud our school district is a direct result of first-class investigative work by Miami-Dade Schools Police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office. The genesis of this indispensable partnership began in 2014 with the creation of the Fraud Prevention Task Force to help curb abuse of employee health care benefits.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

WOULD-BE LOBBYIST ARRESTED FOR CAMPAIGN FRAUD

As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force and the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General, David Alberto Carcache (Carcache), a would-be lobbyist and political consultant, was arrested and charged with:
  • 2 counts     False Swearing           (3rd Degree Felony)
  • 1 count      Aiding, Abetting, or Advising in the Violation of the Election Code      (3rd Degree    Felony)
  • 5 counts     Falsifying Records     (1st Degree Misdemeanor)
Carcache, also known as David Carcache-Guzman and David Guzman, represented himself as a lobbyist/consultant assisting various candidates running for several Miami-Dade Community Council positions during the August 26, 2014, elections.

“A young man’s goal of creating his own business is something we usually encourage,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “However, Mr. Carcache’s business approach of undermining Miami-Dade’s Community Council system, corrupting our election process, has led to his arrest. The investigation by my Public Corruption Task Force and the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General uncovered evidence of numerous fraudulent campaign documents and transactions.  Thanks to their efforts, someone working to taint our election system has been thwarted.”

The investigation began when a resident of Community Council #12 received a letter from the Miami-Dade Department of Elections providing information to new candidates. However, no one at the address was actually running for election. The resident contacted authorities, initiating    an extensive
investigation which identified Carcache and his scheme to solicit and control candidates running for Community Council seats. Having enough politicians beholden to him on various Community Council seats would allow Carcache to effectively sell his (unregistered) lobbying and consulting services. Carcache was undeterred by the fact that some of his candidates were unqualified for election since they did not reside within specified Community Council boundaries.
 
“‘All politics is local’ a phrase taken to heart by Carcache who sought to manipulate and peddle his influence in our County government.  But for this investigation, there would be three elected officials in office, being controlled by the defendant.  The OIG will continue to provide oversight of the election process and robustly investigate all allegations of election fraud as it pertains to every level of Miami-Dade County government,” stated Mary T. Cagle, Miami-Dade County Inspector General. 
 
The investigation found that Carcache prepared fraudulent candidate qualifying documents, set up and controlled candidates’ email accounts, and submitted fraudulent campaign treasurer finance reports. At Carcache’s direction, thousands of dollars in campaign expenses were paid in checks or money orders payable to Carcache's sister and mother. Carcache submitted, or caused to be submitted, numerous documents containing false information and falsely sworn documents to the Miami-Dade Elections Department in connection with the campaigns of three Community Council candidates. Two candidates, Mauricio Rodriguez-Varela and Daniel Diaz won their positions to Community Council #11/113 and Community Council #12/123, respectively.  They have resigned as a result of the investigation. The third candidate, Jesus Antonio Salas, withdrew from the race prior to the election.

 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

STATE ATTORNEY SELECTED FOR MUJERES GIVING BACK AWARD


Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has been selected by The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade for their Mujeres Giving Back 2015 Award in the Talent category.

“I am greatly honored to be recognized by The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade for this amazing award. The Women’s Fund has long recognized that fostering community enrichment starts with recognizing and fostering the good works done locally by individual women. What we give back to our community enriches us all,” commented State Attorney Fernandez Rundle.

This is the second year that The Women’s Fund has selected a group of women to highlight the philanthropic impact of Hispanic women leaders in Miami-Dade County. The candidates are nominated by South Florida residents and selected by an independent judging panel of community leaders. The winners are women who give back to our community through their time, talent or treasure. Mujeres Giving Back recognizes women who have been leaders in leveraging their power and influence to give back to their community.

Founded in 1993, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade empowers women and girls through advocacy and funding for innovative initiatives that build equality, foster social change and create community partners.
 
State Attorney Fernandez Rundle and her fellow nominees will be honored at a Recognition Luncheon hosted by The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade on Friday, November 6, 2015, at Jungle Island.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weston Meat Exporter Arrested - Fake Invoices Used in Import/Export Fraud

As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Inspector General’s Office of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, 61 year old Weston resident Carlos Hernan Del Valle has been arrested for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud Plus International Bank of Miami and the Export-Import Bank of the United States of $750,000. Mr. Del Valle was arrested by Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies and Special Agents of the Inspector General’s Office of the Export-Import Bank on a Miami-Dade County warrant.

Carlos Hernan Del Valle has been charged with:
  • 1 count      Grand Theft                              1st  Degree Felony
  • 1 count       Organized Fraud                     1st Degree Felony
“Sophisticated white collar crimes appear radically different from burglaries and armed robberies”, commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “But they have one thing in common: they are acts undertaken to steal from others; from home owners, from citizens or, in this instance, from our government.  This was a complex crime investigated by dedicated investigators from the Office of the Inspector General for the Export-Import Bank and worked by my prosecutors. I am proud to be a part of such a law enforcement partnership.”

Mr. Del Valle, through his company Lion Trading Corporation, represented that he sold and shipped meat products to nine businesses in the Dominican Republic from November 17, 2011 through January 23, 2012. To facilitate his export business, Mr. Del Valle applied for and received a line of credit totaling $750,000 from the Miami-based Plus International Bank, a lender who specializes in international trade finance.

Based on an investigation, it is alleged that Mr. Del Valle submitted fraudulent sales and shipping documents to Plus International Bank purporting to support exports that never occurred in order to receive the funds. It is believed Mr. Del Valle used the fraudulently obtained funds to pay off earlier loans.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Officer Charged in Search Warrant Jewel Theft


As a result of a joint Miami-Dade County Police Department and Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigation, 9 year Miami Dade Police Department Detective Karel Rosario has been arrested and charged with:
  • 1 count       Dealing in Stolen Property      2nd Degree Felony
  • 1 count      Grand Theft                              2nd Degree Felony
After the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) executed a May 20, 2015 search warrant at the residence of Mrs. Yulia Martinez which resulted in her being taken into Federal custody and bonding out of jail, Yulia Martinez discovered that several pieces of jewelry, including a Cartier watch containing a custom diamond bezel, a gold bracelet with diamonds, Cartier-style “Nail” bracelet, Rolex Daytona watch, a Bulgari ring, Bulgari bracelet, a David Yurman bracelet and several expensive bottles of perfume, were missing from her residence. No receipts were left at the residence specifying the items that were seized during the search warrant, as is the normal police procedure.
On May 27, 2015, Rosario met at the Seybold Jewelry Building with jeweler Mr. Joel Hernandez in an effort to sell a Cartier watch and Cartier style “Nail” bracelet. Mr. Hernandez told Rosario that he was not interested in the purchase. However, Mr. Hernandez posted pictures of the Cartier watch to post on a social site named “WhatsApp” so that others in the jewelry trade could see it and respond if interested. These negotiations were captured on the jewelry store’s video surveillance camera.
Mr. Hernandez was soon contacted by jeweler Joel Vigo who sought to learn who was in possession of the Cartier watch and the Cartier style “Nail” bracelet. Mr. Vigo told Mr. Hernandez that he had sold that specific Cartier watch which contained a diamond bezel and the Cartier style “Nail” bracelet to Yulia Martinez’ husband. Mr. Vigo later contacted Yulia Martinez and advised her of the incident. Yulia Martinez notified a member of the private defense bar because these items were missing after the search of her residence. On June 1, 2015, the attorney contacted the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office (SAO) initiating a criminal investigation.  Thereafter, State Attorney Investigator Supervisors working with the State Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force made contact with Ms. Martinez, Mr. Hernandez, and Mr. Vigo.  All parties were interviewed and Officer Rosario’s identification was verified.

“Good police work always depends on an officer’s honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity are the core values of every effective police agency,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Detective Rosario’s stealing makes him no different than the thieves he would apprehend. This is a sad day for the law enforcement community.”
“Our integrity is fundamental to the Miami-Dade Police Department maintaining the trust of the community we protect and serve,” stated Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson.  “That integrity, and the need to maintain the absolute trust of the community, requires that whenever one of our officers breaks the law, we hold that officer accountable.”

Monday, June 15, 2015

County Landscape Supervisor Charged in Fuel Theft


As a result of a joint Miami-Dade County Police Department, Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General and Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigation, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Employee Siul Delgado was arrested on Thursday June 11, 2015 and charged with one count of Organized Scheme to Defraud under $20,000.

The investigation started via information from a confidential source in April of 2015 indicating that Delgado was possibly dispensing county gasoline at a private home located at 16988 SW 141 Court, Miami-Dade County.  Further investigation and surveillance indicated a pattern of suspicious gasoline movements utilizing a County-owned pick-up truck containing gas and diesel tanks on its bed.  Normally, such trucks are used to pump fuel into County landscape equipment being used at various sites around Miami-Dade. 
Investigative surveillance revealed a number of fuel fillings, in excess of normal usage, and unexplained movements of the fuel truck to the 16988 SW 141 Court address, followed by the operating sound of the fuel truck pump. Other surveillance showed Delgado adding county fuel to his own private vehicle and also leaving 5 bags of county fertilizer at the same SW 141 Court location.
 “Individuals who feel that they are entitled to use and steal county property have no place in our county workforce,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “A public salary never allows anyone to become a public thief.
 “We value our continuing partnership with the Miami-Dade Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office.  Confidential complaints from honest employees and citizens sent to us enable our agencies to root out those who violate the public’s trust,” said Miami-Dade County Inspector General, Mary T. Cagle. 

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.

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.

Former County Alarm Unit Employee Jailed in Theft Case


(Miami – February 5, 2015) - Ram A. Schratter, a former County supervisor with 20 years’ experience in the Internal Services Department’s (ISD’s) former Alarm Unit, was charged today with one count of First Degree Organized Scheme to Defraud and surrendered in Circuit Court. The charges stem from a joint investigation conducted by the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (SAO). The investigation uncovered that Schratter was purchasing security alarm system equipment intended for use in County facilities and diverting the equipment to his private security alarm business, Moon Security Systems, Inc.

Schratter was immediately sentenced and will serve six months in jail followed by six months of house arrest (technically, a total of 12 months of community control), followed by two years of probation. As part of an agreement with the State Attorney’s Office, Schratter was required to pay $200,000 in restitution to the County and costs of investigation to the OIG. Schratter will also forfeit his 20 year County pension and any leave he had accumulated prior to his resignation. In addition, Schratter will be debarred from contracting with the County for a period of 5 years, have to perform 75 hours of community service and cannot hold any public employment until the expiration of his probationary period.

“I want to congratulate the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General for uncovering this slick employee theft case and also for finding the flaw in the county payment process which allowed this crime to occur”, commented Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “No public employee should feel that theft will ever be tolerated or accepted.”

“The thief has been arrested, convicted and sentenced”, stated Miami-Dade County Inspector General Mary Cagle. “The OIG is putting the County on notice to aggressively shore up internal controls and supervision so that corrupt employees are weeded out before they have the opportunity to carry out a fraudulent scheme of this magnitude.”

The OIG discovered that Schratter was able to manipulate supply purchases because the existing dual payment approach, one being used by the Finance Department to pay vendors and the other internal system used for intra-departmental payment of services, were completely separate and not reconciled.

The OIG found that Schratter purchased larger quantities of alarm equipment and supplies than was actually needed for many of the County jobs.  He was able to skim the materials by falsifying service ticket numbers on invoices, passing off purchases as stock, or simply not detailing the specific jobs corresponding to purchases.  Further enabling his scheme was the fact that the vendor invoices did not contain serial numbers or other identifying information that would assist in a reconciliation of what was purchased and what was actually used.

County Employee Charged for Filing False Fire Sprinkler Reports


(Miami – February 11, 2015)   As the Port of Miami’s Facilities Superintendent, 16½  year County employee Angel Perez was an integral part of the overall port maintenance staff.  His duties included ensuring that the Port of Miami’s fire sprinkler systems, located in the various Port of Miami buildings, were properly maintained, inspected as required, and repaired as needed.   A joint investigation by the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (SAO) uncovered a deliberate falsification of inspection reports submitted to Miami-Dade County for 2012.  The investigation further uncovered that when the County’s contracted fire sprinkler inspection company refused to provide Perez with “clean” inspection reports for 2012, a new company was hired.  While the Port’s perceived compliance with fire safety regulations reflected well on the efforts of Angel Perez, it could have resulted in a dangerous fire safety situation had an emergency arisen.  An OIG surprise inspection of the fire sprinkler systems in 2014 uncovered numerous deficiencies and red tag violations which had gone unrepaired for longer than the allowable statutory period.  Upon learning of the deficiencies, Port Miami made the necessary repairs correcting the deficiencies and a new fire sprinkler inspection vendor performed the 2014 annual inspections.

“By filing a false report, Mr. Perez lied to both of his employers, Miami-Dade County and the taxpayers of this community, and potentially put lives at risk,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Fortunately, no emergencies arose and this investigation led to all deficiencies being uncovered and corrected. 

“Employees who fail to perform their official duties and endanger others will be thoroughly investigated by the OIG,” stated Inspector General Mary T. Cagle.

Angel Perez surrendered in open court this morning, pleading guilty to 1 count of False Official Statements, a 2nd degree misdemeanor.  He received a withhold of adjudication and 6 months probation.  In addition, he will resign his county job effective immediately, reimburse the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General its investigative costs of $5,000.00, reimburse the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office for the cost of prosecution of $500.00 and perform 20 hours of Community Service.  Upon completion of all these special conditions he may apply for early termination of probation.