July 2009 Archives

July 31, 2009

Hollywood Police Officers Involved in Cover-Up

1156821_handcuffs.jpgFor all Ft. Lauderdale and Miami criminal defense lawyers, beware the police may be concocting stories against your clients. All Miami and Ft. Lauderdale defense attorneys have dealt with officer misconduct for years. As Miami DUI lawyers, we all know the serious implications of having a DUI on your record. Our clients tell us that the police are making up lies or that the arrest affidavits filed against them are untrue. In our profession, it is often very difficult to prove that law enforcement officers are not telling the truth about our client's cases. For a change, the police were caught red-handed.

Four Hollywood police officers were caught on a dashboard video camera contriving a cover-up scheme against a woman who was involved in a traffic accident with a police cruiser. Back in February, a Hollywood police officer rear-ended a woman and charged her with four counts of DUI and a citation for making an improper lane change.

The Hollywood police officers involved in the cover-up are Officer Joel Francisco, Officer Dewey Pressley, Sgt. Andrew Diaz, and Community Service Officer Karim Thomas. All Miami and Ft. Lauderdale DUI lawyers should immediately check the witness list attached to the discovery packet provided by the Broward County State Attorney's Office. If any of these officers are involved in your Ft. Lauderdale DUI case, this information should be useful in obtaining a favorable result for your client.

Officer Pressley wrote in his police report that the woman driver accused of DUI was operating her automobile with a large gray cat on her lap. The report went on to say that the cat jumped out of the window which caused the woman driver to swerve in front of Officer Francisco's cruiser and slam on her brakes causing the accident. Francisco purportedly approached the woman's driver side window and notice a strong smell of alcohol on her breath.

After the accident, all four officers were caught on the video dashboard camera contriving the cover-up and manipulating the facts to absolve the officer and blame the woman for the crash. Upon review of the video, all four officers were placed on administrative duty until a formal internal investigation by the police department is conducted. The Broward County State attorney's office is also investigating the incident.

Hollywood Police Caught Red-Handed in Cover-Up Scheme!, Justice News Flash.Com, July 30, 2009

July 30, 2009

Miami Marijuana Trafficker Sentenced to 35 Years in State Prison

1206038_dutch_weed-2_jpg.jpgIn Sanford, Florida, Circuit Court Judge Donna McIntosh sentenced a major player in a Miami marijuana trafficking ring to long prison sentence. Amaldo Martinez of Miami, Florida was facing up a life sentence in prison after he was convicted of marijuana trafficking and conspiracy to commit marijuana trafficking in state court. The case in an example of the statewide crack down by law enforcement authorities of those who endeavor to traffic in marijuana. In Miami, marijuana has become a big business which has in turn provided Miami criminal defense lawyers a tremendous amount of new cases to defend.

According to prosecutors, Martinez was responsible for moving 200 pound shipments throughout the State of Florida. Martinez, along with his co-defendants would traffic the large shipments of marijuana across the Mexican border and deliver the shipments in rental cars. Law enforcement caught Martinez attempting to deliver 200 pounds of marijuana to a residence in Seminole County. Martinez also maintained a residence in Miami, Florida.

During their investigation, narcotics detectives learned that Martinez was shipping 200 pounds to his residence and intercepted the marijuana in North Florida. The marijuana was being transported in a rental car. However, Martinez was escorting the shipment in a different vehicle when the arrests were made by law enforcement officers.

A Seminole County jury took little time in convicting Martinez of five counts of marijuana trafficking and conspiracy to traffic marijuana. The criminal defense lawyer for Martinez requested leniency because he had a young daughter. The prosecutor requested a life sentence. In trial, the prosecutor referred to Martinez as the kingpin and that he was responsible for at least seven to ten 200 pound shipments of marijuana into Seminole County. Martinez had a previous conviction for cocaine trafficking.

Judge McIntosh ordered Martinez to serve a 35 year prison sentence. A co-defendant in the case, Mario Suarez was convicted of one count of conspiracy to traffic in marijuana and received a five year prison sentence.

Miami Marijuana Trafficker Sentence to 35 Years in Prison, Orlando Sentinal, July 27, 2009

July 29, 2009

Miami Mortgage Fraud Arrests Made in South Florida

Once again, Miami leads the State of Florida in mortgage fraud arrests. On July 26, 2009, the Miami-Dade Police Department's Mortgage Fraud Task Force with the assistance of the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service completed a series of arrests in mortgage fraud cases. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez made the announcement. Mayor Alvarez stated, :Today, I am proud to announce that with the help of United State's Attorneys Office, we are continuing to aggressively fight mortgage fraud - a crime so prevalent in South Florida."

In total, law enforcement made 12 arrests, all of the individuals were federally indicted for their alleged involvement in an extensive and complex mortgage fraud scheme. Some of those indicted immediately retained Miami criminal attorneys who special in mortgage fraud defense to represent them.

Nine of the twelve arrests resulted from a year and half long joint investigation between Miami and federal investigative agencies. The authorities based their investigation on an analysis of properties in foreclosure or default in the Miami area. One of the mortgage fraud schemes involved the use of straw purchasers to obtain nine mortgages loans on various properties with inflated prices. Those involved skimmed money from the proceeds if the illegal transactions. The amount of loss in this case exceeds two million dollars.

The other three arrests stemmed from vacant lot deals involving exceedingly inflated prices. The lots were sold to straw purchasers. The amount of loss in this case exceeds nine hundred thousand dollars.

Since in it inception in 2007, the Miami mortgage fraud task force has made in excess of 150 arrests, drafted legislation which was signed by President Obama into law on May 20, 2009, drafted mortgage fraud legislation for the State of Florida which make mortgage fraud a second degree felony and has approached an assisted other law enforcement agencies in combating mortgage crime.

Glen Theobald, Chief Counsel of the Miami-Dade Police Department, is in charge of the Miami Mortgage Fraud Task Force. The task force is made up of police officers, prosecutors and other public officials. The task force's vision is reduce and prevent future mortgage fraud in the Miami area and to prosecute offenders who violate the mortgage fraud statute.

Another Round of Mortgage Fraud Arrest in Miami-Dade County, South Florida Carribean News, July 29, 2009

July 28, 2009

Police Operation Cracks Down on Miami Drug Offenses

Miami-Dade and Opa-Locka narcotics detectives and police officers arrested several suspected drug dealers in a concerted effort to reduce the amount of drug sales, drug trafficking and drug related violence in some Miami neighborhoods. Miami narcotics detectives often engage in drug suppression raids in high crime neighborhoods in Miami, Florida. The local police departments are not only concerned with the high level of cocaine and marijuana trafficking and sales, but they are also concerned with the high number of drug related deaths that occur in these neighborhoods. A Miami criminal attorney revealed that although dozens of arrests were made, those arrested will soon be back on the streets. The result is not a product of the police departments efforts, but on an overwhelmed state court system in Miami, Florida.

Residents in the area were grateful that narcotics detectives and police officers participated in "Operation Safe Garden". Tammy Stewart, an Opa-Locka resident said that the police crackdown was a good thing, but that more police presence in her neighborhood is needed. She claims that she never sees police officers patrolling her neighborhood and when the police are called, they take a long time in responding to calls.

Brian Finne, the Opa-Locka City Manager, admitted that have to do a better job in promptly responding to calls. He went further to say that all of the police agencies in Miami are challenged with the time difference in receiving and then responding to calls. Mr. Finne explained that the Opa-Locla Police Department is taking a pro-active approach to solving the problem. He intends on having more units patrol the high crime areas and back that up with a crime suppression task force.

As a result of the operation, Miami and Opa-Locka police officers removed 45.5 grams of cocaine and 469 pounds of marijuana from the streets. Ninety-two felony and twenty misdemeanor arrests were made, small amounts of heroine and MDMA (Ecstacy) were seized along with two firearms.

Police Operation Cracks Down on Drug Dealers, Miami Herald, July 25, 2009

July 27, 2009

Except for Miami, Mortgage Fraud Crimes Not Investigated or Prosecuted by the State of Florida

It has recently come to light that law enforcement and prosecutors around the entire State of Florida have rejected cries for help from victims of mortgage fraud. Florida's most aggressive law enforcement agency is located in Miami, Florida and is headed up by the Miami-Dade Police Department. The Miami mortgage fraud task force assigned twenty officers the duty of battling mortgage fraud in Miami and to date have made in excess of 100 arrests. The Miami-Dade Police Department enlisted officers with real estate experience. For example, Sgt. Richard Davis, who works on the mortgage fraud task force, is a licensed real estate agent and mortgage broker. Davis said that officers attached to the mortgage fraud task force are receiving specialized training regarding mortgage and real estate fraud. The creation of the morgage fraud task force has inevitably created more cases for Miami criminal defense attorneys to handle.

U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek believes that every local law enforcement agency should take the same approach as Miami. He stated, "A sustained and coordinated law enforcement effort goes a long way in solving this problem". Meek further stated, "The Miami-Dade model of combating mortgage fraud needs to be exported throughout Florida".

A year-long investigation by the Sarasota Herald Tribune revealed that enforcement in almost all jurisdictions failed to investigate or failed to adequately investigate criminal complaints regarding mortgage and real estate fraud. Despite the fact that the mortgage research institute ranked the State of Florida as one of the worst states for mortgage fraud, the inaction by local law enforcement authorities have left many victims searching for answers.

In a reactive response to the unprecedented rise in mortgage fraud, the state legislation passed a law that made mortgage fraud a crime in 2007. State officials even opened a hotline to receive complaints from victims of mortgage fraud. Despite the steps that have been taken to prosecute these crimes, little or nothing has been done to bring those involved in mortgage fraud schemes to justice.

The federal law enforcement authorities have been more proactive than the state law enforcement authorities. The FBI has been assigned the task of investigating mortgage fraud cases, and in fact, are currently investigating in excess of 2,500 cases. The number of cases being investigated dwarf the number of actual cases of mortgage fraud that were committed in the State of Florida during the real estate boom. It is estimated that thousands and thousands of cases of mortgage fraud occurred between 2000 and 2007.

Flipping Fraud Ignored By Police and Prosecutors, Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 21, 2009

July 23, 2009

Arrested in Miami - Advice from a Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you are on vacation on Miami Beach or reside in the Miami or South Florida area, you should know that there are certain measures a person can take at the time of arrest that will assist your Miami criminal lawyer in successfully defending a criminal charge. Everyone should know how to protect one's rights. By knowing your rights, you have gone a long way in defending your criminal case. In order to protect your rights, you need to understand the law and the circumstances in which you find yourself. If you are under investigation or have been arrested by a law enforcement officer, there a number of rules that a Miami criminal lawyer strongly suggests you follow to help beat your charges.

Try to stay calm and quiet. If you must speak, think carefully before utter any words that may hurt your case. Remember, anything that you say can and WILL be noted by the officer in his report and used against you later in state or federal court. These statements are called admissions or spontaneous statements and are the strongest piece of evidence the prosecution will use against you. The officer is not your friend, he/she is not going to be persuaded or convinced not to arrest you. Anything you say is NOT going to help you. Statements you make can only limit the potential defenses in your case. Any spontaneous statements you make could impede your Miami criminal defense attorney's ability to defend your case. The best and only statement you should make to a officer or agent is, "I want to speak to my lawyer, I do not wish to speak to you." Be polite.

Try to be courteous and respectful. Do not, under any circumstances argue with the officer or agent. Do not touch the officer or agent. Do not attempt to escape by walking or running away. Do not make any quick or abrupt movements. Do not resist the arrest in anyway. Pulling your arms away or tensing up your arms when the officer or agent attempts to arrest you can result in the additional charges of resisting arrest or obstruction of justice. This also gives the officer or agent a justification to hurt you. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Do not complain or argue with the officer or agent about how they are making a mistake. Do not threaten or claim that you are going to file a complaint or law suit, or that you will have them fired. These courses of action only ensure that the officer or agent will arrest you on more charges, remember you in court and make sure that the charges are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Remember, if the officer or agent has already made the decision to arrest you, there is very little, if anything, you or anyone can do at this point to make him or her to decide not to follow through with the arrest. During the initial investigation by the law enforcement officer or after you have arrested, do make the prosecutor's case stronger. The police officer may ask for your consent to search your car or home. The officer may do this orally or request that you sign a form. Do not consent either orally or by form. In majority of cases, the police are required to obtain a warrant to search your car or home. Make them do their job and obtain a warrant for either type of search.

If you under investigation or have a been arrested, the police officer will want to speak with you. If you are not free to leave, the officer must inform you of your Miranda rights, the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Take advantage of your right and refuse any questions directed at you by the police. Again, any statements you make can and Will be used against you in court.

If an individual under investigation or placed arrest follows these simple rules, your Miami criminal lawyer will have a better chance of beating your case in court. Do not make the case stronger for the police and the prosecution.

July 22, 2009

Miami Sex Offenders to Be Relocated

An article recently published in the Miami Herald is a prime example of the importance in retaining a highly qualified Miami criminal lawyer with expertise in defending sex cases. Entering a plea to a sexual offense in Miami can lead to unforeseen problems, such as finding a suitable and legal residence.

Officials in Miami, Florida are increasing their efforts to remove a colony of convicted sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Miami-Dade officials and advocates for the homeless are facing growing criticism for the 70 sex offenders living under the causeway with terrible living conditions. In response the criticism, officials are attempting to obtain housing for the Miami sex offenders.

Ronald Book, the Chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless trust, stated that they have relocated eight sex offenders to an apartment building in Miami, Florida. Officials are looking for a bigger place for the remaining individuals to be housed. Book also stated that the move is positive, however a permanent solution for the problem for the encampment must be found. Possible locations for the offenders include the old North Dade Detention Center, formerly used as a jail near the Golden Glades Interchange on the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale Border.

The majority of residents of the encampment are registered sex offenders convicted of sexual battery, lewd and lascivious behavior, child sex abuse and statutory rape. The felons are recently released from prison or serving long probationary periods. The individuals are forced to live under the causeway because they no other place to reside. County and city laws prohibit the sex offenders from residing with 2,500 feet of schools, playgrounds, parks and day care facilities - any location where children congregate.

According the Miami-Dade County State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, "It's a public safety issue. They are living in inhumane conditions. It's not safe for them - and it's not safe for others". Several issues linger as to who will bear the expense for rent in liability insurance. Another problem is determining who will supervise the offenders. Book suggested that an apartment building or former hotel in foreclosure may be a perfect fit.

The ACLU sued Miami-Dade County claiming that the State of Florida promulgated a law that prohibits sex offenders from residing 1,000 feet from where children congregate and that the 2,500 foot laws passed by the City and the County are too stringent and therefore unconstitutional.

Miami-Dade Plans to Relocate Sex Offenders Living under Bridge, Sun Sentinal, July 22, 2009

July 17, 2009

Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Convinces Prosecutors To Cut Haitian Cocaine Trafficker's Sentence

A major Haitian cocaine trafficker received a significant reduction in his prison sentence for assisting federal Miami prosecutors in a larger investigation into former Haitian officials of the Jean Bertrand-Aristide regime.

Jean Eliobert Jasme's, a large scale cocaine trafficker provided substantial assistance in dozens of Miami cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine cases. As a result, federal prosecutors and Miami criminal defense lawyers convinced a federal judge to cut Jasme's twenty year sentence in half. Jasme offered to assist federal authorities to help in the U.S. government's efforts to curb the flow of cocaine from Columbia through Haiti to Miami. Information provided by Jasme led to the prosecution in 17 Miami cocaine trafficking cases of former Haitian government officials and police officers. All but one individual was absolved of Miami cocaine trafficking charges.

Government officials have suspected for years that Aristide and his government were involved in cocaine trafficking to the Miami and South Florida area. Federal authorities have been unable to prove that Aristide received large sums of money in exchange for providing a jumping off point to the United States for cocaine trafficking. Aristide has not returned to Haiti in five years since his government was overthrown. The cocaine traffickers smuggled the cocaine from Columbia through Haiti to Miami.

One of Aristide's closest official, Oriel Jean, the former presidential security chief, was convicted by federal prosecutors. Jean received a three year prison sentence in exchange for information into Miami cocaine trafficking and the location of several fugitives involved in cocaine trafficking rings.

Even with the cooperation of Jasme and Jean, DEA agents have been until to locate and arrest Guy Philippe, a former Haitian police official who was indicted for cocaine trafficking in 2005. Philippe has evaded several arrest attempts by federal law enforcement agencies.

Haitian Drug Trafficker's Sentence Cut, Miami Herald, July 16, 2009

July 11, 2009

A Miami Criminal Lawyer Can Successfully Run a Practice Solely Defending Fraud Cases

A Miami criminal lawyer can successfully operate a criminal law practice solely based on the magnitude of economic fraud cases that are investigated and prosecuted in the South Florida area. Insurance fraud, staged accident, credit card and real estate/mortgage fraud cases fill the court's dockets in the state and federal courts in the Miami and South Florida area.

A prime example recently occurred in Miami, Florida when six individuals were arrested for medicare fraud. Federal law enforcement authorities continue to search for two additional fugitives indicted in the same case. The defendants are alleged to have defrauded the U.S. health care system by creating multiple phony clinics that billed out in excess of $100 million dollars. The clinics billed for providing intravenous treatments for cancer, AIDS, varicose veins and other medical treatments. The clinics are alleged to have operated in five states including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North and South Carolina. Some of the clinics involved were merely empty storefronts with handwritten signs. Other clinics operated and existed merely as post office boxes.

The main defendant charged with the fraud is Michel DeJesus Huarte who operated six of the so-called clinics in the Miami area and recruited others to submit the fraudulent claims. The federal indictment alleges that the defendants purchased lists of patient names and filed claims on their behalf and used doctor's identifying numbers. The fraud was perpetrated without the consent and knowledge of the patients and doctors. The payments were laundered through a local check cashing store. None of the clinics provided medical services, but nonetheless submitted medical bills to the United States healthcare system. The defendants were indicted on charges varying from medicare fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

If convicted the defendants face up to 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit medicare fraud, and up to two years for the identity theft. The government is also seeking to forfeit all of the illegal proceeds obtained from the scheme to defraud. Federal prosecutors stated that Medicare fraud is common in Miami and the South Florida area, but that the case stood out due to the enormous magnitude of the fraud.

Medicare is a federal health insurance plan for the elderly. Due to the number of elderly residing in the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale areas, Medicare fraud has been become fertile ground for criminal predators.

Eight Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme, American Chronicle, July 10 2009

July 3, 2009

Advice from a Miami DUI Lawyer - What to do if stopped by a police officer

A Miami criminal lawyer suggests you act in accordance with the following instructions if you are pulled over in Miami or Miami Beach for driving under the influence. Imagine yourself cruising down Ocean Drive on Miami Beach late on a Friday night. Having just finished a few drinks you feel marvelous! There is a full moon rising over the ocean, the sky is clear and the night air is cool and crisp and the radio is blasting with your favorite song. Suddenly, in your rear view mirror you see blue and red police lights and hear the sound of a siren. Looking up you see a police officer signaling you to pull over. Your heart immediately starts racing, what do you do?

First of all, don't panic, always remain composed. Take a deep breath, exhale and try to remain calm and relaxed. Before stopping your car, look again at the car behind you with the lights and siren. Determine if it is a marked police car or just a car with a light or siren. If it is a marked unit, pull over in a safe and reasonable manner. Gradually apply your brakes and pull completely off the roadway to a safe area. Do not block traffic. If it is not a marked police car; put on your hazard lights, slow down and drive to well lit area with people around. This is for your own safety.

Once you are stopped, ensure that the windows are down. Remain in your car and place both of your hands on the steering wheel and wait for instructions from the police officer. Some officers will approach your car, while others will request that you step out of your car. If it is dark, the officer will direct a floodlight or spotlight to illuminate your car for his or her safety. If the light is in your eyes, tilt the mirrors slightly up or down. While waiting for the officer, think of where you have your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.

Once you are approached by the officer, a Miami DUI lawyer would suggest that you remain in control of your emotions, body language and words. Be polite and respectful. If you are, you have a better chance that the officer will not arrest you for DUI. Don't complain or argue with the officer. If you feel that he has done wrong, just make a mental note of his name and report him to a supervisor at a later time.

Do not retrieve your driver's license and accompanying documents unless asked to do so by the police officer. Try to avoid engaging the officer in conversation. The officer probably does not care what you have to say and you may get yourself into trouble. A Miami DUI lawyer would recommend speaking as little as possible. Direct answers to direct questions works best. If you like, you can ask why you have been stopped. If you choose not to speak, remember you have a Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions posed by law enforcement officers. However, if you refuse to answer questions the police may become suspicious of you. This may cause them to investigate you more throughly. If the officer attempts to engage you in conversation, be polite, tell him/her that you are in a hurry and don't have time to talk. If the officers persists, ask him/her if you are free to leave?

Do not agree to any physical tests or exercises. Do not agree to take a breath, urine or blood test. Invoke your right to an attorney and to remain silent. These guidelines may not preclude you from an arrest, but the advice provided by this Miami DUI lawyer will provide you many defenses to your case.