Articles Posted in Miami-Dade County

The ex-husband of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Cynthia Bailey spent the night in a Miami jail after being arrested for writing fraudulent checks.

Peter Thomas was arrested Friday at Miami International Airport on a fugitive warrant.

The 58-year-old man is from Louisiana where he is accused of writing fraudulent checks.

No bond has been set.

In an official statement, Thomas said the allegations were false. He said he will be “acquitted from any wrongdoing.”

In Florida, check fraud can embody numerous fraudulent activities, such as writing a check from an account holding insufficient funds or a closed account. It is also a crime for someone to possess fraudulently obtained checks. Check fraud carries the potential for a felony conviction and significant prison time, depending on the value of the check.

In order for the State to charge someone with check fraud, they must prove the “bad check” was intentionally tendered to another person or business. This can be in the form of a personal check or a business-related check.

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A South Florida man has been convicted in a $100 million scheme to defraud a Puerto Rico bank.

According to court records, the 55-year-old man was convicted in Miami federal court Monday of eight counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. His sentencing is scheduled for April 30.

Prosecutors believe the man served as chairman and CEO of a pharmaceutical company from 2005 to 2007 and caused Westernbank to grant a series of loans in exchange for a security interest in the company’s assets in 2005. According to reports, evidence showed Western Bank agreed to advance money based on fake customer invoices, which allowed the man to divert tens of millions of dollars.

Westernbank declared the loan in default in 2007 and lost more than $100 million, leading to the bank’s insolvency and collapse.

Wire fraud is a federal offense and if convicted, you face heavy fines and serious jail time. Since this man was found guilty of committing wire fraud against a financial institution, jail time can be up to 30 years. These are very serious charges, and you should not wait to seek help. In fact, the sooner you obtain legal representation the better.

A person can be found guilty of wire fraud if they knowingly and willfully devised a scheme to defraud, or obtain money or property under false pretenses, and knowingly transmitted or caused to be transmitted by wire in interstate commerce in some capacity for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud. This crime is centered around “intent,” and you do not have to actually defraud someone to be convicted of wire fraud.

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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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A school security guard in Miami was arrested at his home Monday on multiple drug charges.

According to an arrest report, the 43-year-old was pulled over in his car soon after undercover detectives allegedly watched as he sold drugs to a man at a gas station near the Hammocks district campus during school hours.

Authorities were made aware of the man’s alleged activity through an anonymous tip, investigators said.

About 1 gram of cocaine and a THC cartridge was found in the center console of his vehicle during the stop, according to police.

Police said a search warrant was later obtained for Green’s home at 14232 SW 154th Court, where about 790 grams of marijuana were allegedly discovered in a drawer next to his bed. About 29.4 grams of cocaine were allegedly found in several areas of his room.

According to the arrest report, inside a safe in his bedroom, investigators found a digital scale with cocaine residue on it, 90 clear blue baggies, and $1,000 in cash. Inside a yellow watch case, there were three baggies containing cocaine, and $230 in cash. Investigators also said they discovered additional baggies of cocaine, and a small brown box on a shelf in the same room containing $660 in cash.

The man was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent of cocaine, possession of 29.4 grams of cocaine, and possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school convenience store. He also faces charges for possession of marijuana and possession of a THC cartridge.

Almost all drug charges are felonies and subject to prison sentences of at least one year in prison. The most serious drug crimes, when coupled with other serious charges, can amount to life in prison.

Certain factors can increase the penalties associated with drug possession. If you are arrested in possession of drugs within 1,500 feet of a school or church, it could double your sentence. If you are illegally in possession of a firearm at the time you are arrested, that can also escalate the penalties you face. Facing multiple charges can result in severe penalties that far exceed what most people expect.

Sentencing guidelines in drug cases can be downright shocking. That is why it is imperative to have a South Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton on your side as soon as possible after an arrest. We will do everything we can to obtain dismissals and not-guilty verdicts whenever possible. We will fight to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.  

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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 former employee of Royal Caribbean International who suffered a catastrophic injury in 2008 while she was working on board has been awarded $20.3 million.

In August 2008,  the woman was a marketing and revenue manager on the Miami-based cruise line’s Voyager of the Seas, which was sailing from Barcelona, Spain.

While in port, the ship was conducting a routine fire safety drill in which some of the vessel’s semi-watertight doors — powerful doors that prevent water from flooding the ship — are closed. A nurse from the port who was unaware of the drill tried to open one of the doors with a handle. The woman was on the other side.

According to the lawsuit, as the nurse tried to pass through the door, she fell, and the woman attempted to help her, but when she put her hand on the handle to keep the door open, the sliding door lurched back into its recess pocket in the wall, mashing her hand into a space only big enough to fit a pencil.

The woman’s hand was sucked into the door’s pocket three more times, breaking her middle finger and her index finger. The nails on both fingers were ripped from their cuticles.

Her suit argues that Royal Caribbean was negligent in its training to staff. Crew were not trained to operate the type of door that crushed the woman’s hand, and the nurse was not told by crew at the port that a security drill was taking place.

This is not the only incident of its kind. It seems that in the three years prior to the 2008 incident, 12 Royal Caribbean crew members suffered hand injuries when the doors slid back into their pockets, according to information Royal Caribbean provided during discovery in the case.

Following the woman’s injury, Royal Caribbean referred her to a doctor in Barcelona who misdiagnosed her condition and splinted her fingers in the wrong position, further worsening the damage. For two years, the woman underwent therapy in her home of New Zealand while Royal Caribbean paid her a daily disability payment of $25, as stipulated in her employee disability insurance coverage.

The woman was later diagnosed with a chronic pain syndrome associated with a nervous system malfunction, which causes severe pain that runs into her other arm and up to her head. She also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder following the accident. She is unable to properly move the fingers on her right hand.

By 2010, Royal Caribbean discharged the woman, citing that though her job on the ship was clerical, because of her injury, she would not be able to perform the necessary safety tasks that require lifting 50 pounds.

The woman sued in 2016. As part of the lawsuit, filed in judicial court in Miami-Dade County, the woman alleged that Royal Caribbean was negligent with regard to the door, failed to provide proper medical care, discharged her for a non-performance-related reason, breached its contract with her and failed to pay her full wages.

The three-week jury trial ended on Friday with the court ordering the cruise line to pay the woman $20.3 million in damages, lost wages. and future medical expenses.

Anyone that is injured while on the job wants to peace of mind of knowing that they will have access to medical treatment without the worry of their job being at stake. You also want to know that your employer has your best interests and safety in mind. Sadly, this is not always the case, especially in more dangerous jobs, such as working aboard a cruise ship.

Cruise ship employees, even those in clerical positions on board vessels, are often exposed to dangerous work conditions, long hours, and inadequate medical care.  If you are a cruise ship employee who has been injured while performing job-related duties, you are entitled to certain rights. Moreover, you could likely have a case against the cruise line for negligence, which is where our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Our maritime lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to aggressively pursue injury claims against negligence cruise line employers.

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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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