Articles Posted in Miami

A former Colombian anti-corruption official is facing prison time after pleading guilty to U.S. money-laundering conspiracy charges as part of a bribery scheme.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled Thursday in Miami federal court for the former director of the anti-corruption office for Colombia’s chief prosecutor.

The man faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says in court documents that the man sought to obtain thousands of dollars in bribes from a former governor of Colombia’s Cordoba region who was under a separate corruption investigation.

Bribery is defined as the act of offering money in order to influence the actions of another. The crime of bribery usually arises in the case of public officials, where a private citizen may offer something of value as a means to influence how the public official carries out their public duties. Most bribery cases are charged as conspiracies. In a conspiracy, the government believes that two or more people agreed to engage in criminal conduct.  

With extremely harsh penalties on the line, anyone facing accusations of bribery needs a powerful federal criminal defense attorney on their side to protect their interests, their livelihood, and, most importantly, their freedom.

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A Miami man was arrested Tuesday, a year after he allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl who was seven months pregnant at the time, authorities said.

According to an arrest report, the teen was sitting alone at a bus stop on Sept. 29, 2017, when the 48-year-old man pulled up in his vehicle and asked her to get in.

Police said the teen didn’t know the man and refused, so the man parked his car and approached the teen on foot.

The teen apparently got into the man’s car, authorities said.

According to the arrest report, the man drove the teen to a secluded location, forced her to get in the back seat and then raped her.

DNA results from the teen’s rape kit apparently traced back to the man on Tuesday, police said.

The man was arrested on a charge of sexual battery on a minor. He is being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

Rape is one of the most serious criminal offenses a person can be charged with. The potential penalties are quite severe. If you have been accused of rape, or sexual assault, there is a good chance that some of the key evidence the State of Florida will introduce against you came from an examination, more commonly referred to as a “rape kit.”

A “rape kit” is also known as a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit. While it is a “kit” containing evidence collection tools, including swabs, combs, envelopes and bags, administering a rape kit is a procedure for documenting sexual assault allegations. The purpose of the examination is to gather physical evidence of the alleged assault. Evidence the exam may turn up includes:

  • Pubic hair, facial hair, other body hair
  • Semen
  • Saliva
  • Fibers
  • Blood
  • Skin cells

All of these types of evidence will be used by police and prosecutors to try and obtain a conviction. Hair, bodily fluids, and skin cells can all contain a person’s DNA. If your unique DNA is matched to the DNA found on a sexual assault victim, it almost always proves that there was some type of physical contact between you and the victim.

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The U.S. Coast Guard shut down the voyages of two party boats in Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade County this weekend over several safety issues, authorities said.

The Coast Guard ordered a 34-foot Sunset Stripp with 12 people aboard to return to shore Saturday because the boat did not have a valid certificate of inspection and lacked a drug-and-alcohol testing program for its crew.

The Coast Guard also stopped a 32-foot pleasure craft with 11 people aboard Saturday in Haulover Inlet in Miami-Dade County for similar infractions.

The charter boat operators could face tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines, the Coast Guard said.

Good advice before hitting the water is to carefully study Florida’s boating regulations and requirements and adhere to them fully. You can find boating regulations for Florida here. Just like automobile drivers can be ticketed or arrested for irresponsible behavior on the road, boat operators can be fined or imprisoned for negligent and reckless behavior. Even worse, carelessness can lead to serious injuries and death.

Charter boat/party boat accidents are frequently caused by negligent navigation, improper training of the crew, and unsafe equipment. Lacking safety equipment and little or no training in shipboard safety can result in preventable injuries and death.

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Two 13-year-old boys have been arrested in Miami after authorities say they tried to carjack a teacher outside a school and crashed just moments later.

The boys were arrested Monday and charged them with armed carjacking.

Police allege one of the boys brandished a handgun at the 59-year-old teacher as she was entering her car last week outside the elementary school. A surveillance video allegedly shows the woman running off as both boys hop in and tries to drive away.

The video apparently shows the boys have trouble backing out, as if the parking brake was still engaged. While leaving the parking lot, police say the car crashed into a curb, and the boys fled on foot.

Carjacking is the crime of stealing another person’s vehicle with a gun, knife, or other type of weapon. Due to the fact that carjacking involves the use of threats or violence to hijack another person’s car while they’re still in the vehicle, it is considered a violent crime. Like all violent crimes, carjacking is vigorously prosecuted by both law enforcement officials and the State.

If you are convicted of carjacking, you will face a number of serious penalties, such as time behind bars, large fines, restitution to the victim, probation, and a strike on your record. It is unclear whether the teens involved in this alleged crime will be charged as juveniles or adults. Due to the serious nature of the charges, the court could rule either way.

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Our South Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to think twice before getting wrapped up in the #InMyFeelings Challenge aka the KeKe Challenge.

The “In My Feelings” challenge started earlier this month when well-known rapper Drake came out with a new song.

A dance was created and turned into a dangerous act where drivers jump out of moving cars to participate.

For one man, the challenge went wrong.

A Boynton Beach man was a struck by a car while filming a video for the so-called “In My Feelings” challenge.

The 22-year-old was supposed to hop on the hood of a friend’s car while recording a web video, but he slipped and was struck by the car.

Fortunately the man only suffered minor scrapes.

Our South Florida Auto Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to warn you against participating in this dangerous and illegal activity. In fact, if you are caught, Florida drivers can accumulate about $1,000 worth of citations for their participation in the KeKe challenge:

  • No seatbelt – $114
  • Careless driving – $164
  • Impede the flow of traffic – $164
  • Reckless – $300-$500
  • Possible criminal charges if resulting in death or serious bodily harm

So if you want to participate, we urge you to keep both feet on the ground and refrain from jumping out of you car.

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A personal injury lawyer from Hialeah was arrested Tuesday and charged with killing a woman at a Miami Lakes crosswalk last year with his Mercedes-Benz and driving away while impaired.

The 65-year-old-owner of a law firm in Miami Lakes was charged with DUI manslaughter/failure to render aid, vehicular homicide/failure to stop, leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the Dec. 7, 2017 death of the 26-year-old woman.

Investigators allege that the woman was using the Fairway Drive crosswalk around 2:30 a.m. when a car hit her, launching her into the air to land on a curb on the west side of Fairway Drive. Police believe that car was the man’s silver C-Class Benz and he was the driver.

He remained in Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center Wednesday morning, with bond set at $150,000.

A civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of the woman’s parents that says the woman was found face down near a gutter at the intersection of Miami Lakes Drive and Fairway Drive, and that the man was driving recklessly and should have yielded at the crosswalk. The suit, filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, asks for more than $15,000 to compensate the woman’s parents for their grief and to pay off medical and funeral costs.

It is important to point out that leaving the scene of an accident is not just a traffic ticket. It is a criminal offense. If the accident involves injuries to others, whether it be the other driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, this would be considered a felony hit-and-run in Florida. It is a felony in every state when someone leaves the scene of an accident that results in the death of a person.

Our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to point out that there are very few scenarios where you are free to leave the scene of an accident without suffering any consequences.If you were behind the wheel and caused a fatal accident and want to flee the scene, we urge you to think twice. If you do leave the scene, police will likely issue a warrant out for your arrest, and it is very likely that they will immediately proceed to locate you.

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Three Medicare fraud schemes in recent weeks have targeted a total $139.4 million, which led the Department of Justice to seek multiple convictions and a combined 33 years in prison sentences.

Each of the alleged schemes involved the use of provider kickbacks, a popular activity in healthcare, to entice healthcare professionals to inappropriately redirect clients and beneficiaries to specific healthcare businesses.

Law enforcement officials began their crackdown on Medicare fraud earlier in the year with a mix of provider convictions and settlements involving roughly $3 million dollars.

Combating healthcare fraud continues to be a top priority for law enforcement officials because of the dangers it presents to vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, as well as the potential to recover billions in Medicare spending.

A Detroit provider was sentenced to six years in prison for $10.4 kickback scheme. The case apparently involved kickbacks for unnecessary electromyogram (EMG) tests and physical therapy tests.

He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, one count of wire fraud, two counts of receiving healthcare kickbacks, and had to personally forfeit $1.69 million.

A 70-year-old Boca Raton man was sentenced to five years in prison for $63 million in home health care fraud. Him and eleven other co-conspirators apparently submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through kickbacks that were medically unnecessary, were not eligible for Medicare reimbursement, or were never provided by his clinic.

The man was found guilty of hiding the payments by using his clinic to provide a salary through the kickbacks, and was paid a flat rate based on the number of individuals he referred. The man also admitted patients for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services even though he knew the patients didn’t qualify for PHP service.

He was convicted of one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive healthcare kickbacks. He personally had to forfeit $9.9 million and a personal money judgement over $400,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS, and OIG with supervision from the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

A 52-year-old Miami owner of multiple home health agencies was sentenced to 20 years in prison for $66 million in Medicare fraud that used his network of 20 home health agencies to host an elaborate kickback scheme.

The man and other co-conspirators were found guilty of recruiting individuals to represent his home health agencies in order to hide the man’s identity as they paid illegal bribes and kickbacks to patient recruiters to refer patients to these agencies.

The man also admitted that he submitted false and fraudulent home healthcare claims for Medicare beneficiaries that did not qualify for many services.

He had to forfeit $66.4 million in restitution and is convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud.

The case was investigated by the FBI and was brought forward by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it a felony to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive remuneration, directly or indirectly, in order to induce business that is reimbursable under any federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. If accused of this crime, you could be facing both criminal and civil penalties.

Are you under investigation for Medicare fraud? You are not alone. About 1,400 individuals are indicted in federal court for health care fraud every year and more than 2,500 individuals are currently being investigated for Medicare fraud.

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A 52-year-old Miami businessman has been given a 20 year prison sentence for his apparent role in a Medicare fraud scheme.

His eight homes around Miami-Dade County, at least three cars, and a meat supermarket have been seized as a part of his $66 million in restitution.

He apparently owns 19 healthcare agencies as well. According to court documents, he tried to hide his ownership of the health agencies as part of yet another massive South Florida Medicare scam.

He apparently recruited others to falsely and fraudulently represent themselves to be the owners of the agencies in order to hide his identity and ownership interest, according to the court documents. These nominee owners completed and signed Medicare enrollment applications that fraudulently misrepresented the identities of the agencies’ ownership interest and managing control of the true owners and failed to disclose the man’s ownership interest and managing control of the agency, contrary to Medicare’s requirements.

From 2007 through 2015, the man and his nominees are accused of paying patient recruiters kickbacks to refer Medicare beneficiaries to the man’s owned facilities. The facilities billed Medicare for expensive healthcare services such as physical therapy and home health. Most of the referred beneficiaries didn’t quality for home health services or the services were imaginary.

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance to all American citizens over the age of 65. The government treats medicare fraud quite seriously and will prosecute anyone suspected of defrauding the program.

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A longtime Miami police officer who patrolled the city’s waterways is also accused of running a ponzi scheme, according to feds.  

His alleged pitch: Invest in his Costa Rican loan company and expect returns of over 20 percent.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday morning that the pitch was a scam after announcing criminal charges against the man. They claim the money was used only to enrich himself and pay back early investors.

The 41-year-old was arrested Monday after FBI agents learned he was suddenly flying to Costa Rica because of an “emergency.” Agents arrested the cop while he was boarding a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The man is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Miami internal affairs and the FBI said the man operated his alleged Ponzi scheme between 2011 and 2015.

According to a criminal complaint, he offered “low-risk” investments in his company, which he claimed was giving high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. The loan recipients used their properties in the Central American country as collateral, he said.

But feds claim the man just showed phony paperwork that claimed the company had property rights to land in Costa Rica.

Federal prosecutors did not disclose how much the man is suspected of getting through his investment scheme.

This case is clear example of a white collar crimes arrest. White collar crimes are non-violent offense committed for financial gain. These crimes are often investigated by state or federal agencies, and some of these investigations can carry on for months. Some of these investigations may continue for months. Anyone who is under investigation or has been arrested for a white collar crime should not talk to anyone, especially police, until consulting their legal counsel. Our South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the urgency of your situation and that immediate action must be taken to strengthen your defense.

Anytime police conduct an investigation, they may ask you to explain a few things. Regardless of your innocence, do not make the mistake of answering questions without your attorney present. Police are only looking to incriminate you. Our firm can help you avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt.

At Whittel & Melton, we provide a powerful defense against white collar crimes, including:

  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • RICO
  • Immigrations violations
  • Money laundering
  • Antitrust
  • Medicare and medicaid fraud
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Conspiracy

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Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez  was killed early Sunday in a boating crash in Miami, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 24-year-old and two other people died when their 32-foot vessel slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said.

Two bodies were found under the vessel and a third was found on the jetty, according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Marine Services Bureau.

It does not appear that speed was a factor and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were a cause in the crash. None of the three victims wore a life jacket, and that the boat was owned by a friend of Fernandez’s.

Our South Florida Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help those who have suffered personal injuries or lost loved ones in boating accidents and collisions throughout the state of Florida. Many factors can contribute to a boating accident either on a privately owned vessel or on a personal watercraft, like a jet ski. Some of these factors include:

  • Driver Inexperience
  • Driver Error
  • Operating A Boat Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
  • Equipment Failure
  • Bad weather and/or water conditions

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