Watchdog Report Vol.15 No. 26 October 19, 2014 EST.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating 15 Years
Argus Report: U.S. Sen. Nelson says one of the problems in Iraq was “we had one sided local government, and Iraqi Army had become politicized and badly led turning tail,” in recent fighting
Florida: Empty podium on stage at start of gubernatorial debate stumps journalists and audience, dust-up between Scott & Crist was over small fan at candidate’s feet, very odd controversy, not a good moment for either candidate
Miami-Dade County: Controversial Trolley Depot in Grove runs into Title VI issues, “How did we get this wrong?” County Commissioner Moss asks Gables lawmakers in chambers
Miami-Dade County Public Schools: SUPERINTENDENT ALBERTO M. CARVALHO SIGNS RENEWAL MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING with Italy Public Health Trust: PHT President Migoya tells County Commissioners Jackson Hospital is ready for Ebola since public hospital has been Region 7 Anchor for any WMD or other health crisis like Ebola or Anthrax
City of Miami: Street Gang Members Charged with Drug Conspiracy, Firearms Violations, Carjacking, and Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering Activity
City of Miami Beach: Update on city by Mayor Levine
City of Coral Gables: Will inaccurate crime figures come back to haunt Mayor Cason if he decides to run again in April, crime was an issue in race against Mayoral Candidate Cabrera
Broward County: Vice-President of Investment Company Sentenced in $21 Million Fraud Scheme
Palm Beach County: Another Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Fraud Scheme Involving Personal Identifying Information from AT&T Customer Files
Monroe County: Additional Cay Clubs Executive Charged in Connection with $300 Million Ponzi scheme Involving Sales of Vacation Rental Units
Community Events: Kristi House 15th Gala Event – Black archives event — The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and the University Of Miami Present The Regional Premiere Of Peter and the Starcatcher Arsht Center production- Margulies Warehouse opens in Oct. Lotus House benefits, public students enter free
Editorials: Miami’s Charter Review Committee should address the issue of a Commissioner’s Foundation and who donates to them if they do business with the city
Letters: Reader wishes me a speedy recovery from stroke
Sponsors - Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue
>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)
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>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center www.knightfoundation.org to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.
>>> The Watchdog Report Publisher will be on www.WLRN.org /NPR 91.3 FM Nov. 3 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Topical Currents hosted by Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman and readers should listen in
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>>> U.S. Sen. Nelson says one of the problems in Iraq was “we had one sided local government, and Iraqi Army had become politicized and badly led turning tail,” in recent fighting
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. Told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce recently that when he was a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle the earth from space looked serene since there were no ethnic divisions and demographic tensions he said from space and he noted “We are all in this together” when it came to the planet and issues the world faces such as Climate Change. The Senator first elected to office in 2000 is the highest ranking Democrat in Florida and he was born at the old Victoria hospital in Little Havana and he reminisced about living in Miami decades ago and when it came to the iconic Orange Bowl Parade, he once participated in the parade at age six as a “Latin Dancer,” he told the packed luncheon crowd that included a host of service personal from enlisted members to senior military brass attending to hear the Senior Senator from Florida’s comments.
Nelson said when it came to Iraq and the “Sunni Tribal leaders,” leading the country we had a “one sided Local government and one of the reasons Ramallah was “overtaken recently by ISIS,” was because the “Iraqi Army had become politicized and was badly led and ended up turning tail and ran back,” that had “ISIS capturing U.S. Military equipment.” And is it any wonder that “President [Barack Obama] decided we had to stop this advance,” and while we “hope the Iraqi Army gets professional to stop them on the ground.” He noted “there are a lot of Americans in this fight.” He noted that Syria “is very complicated” and there are all these different groups and has ISIS “running over everybody,” and it was important to start “training the Free Syria Army,” because he believes “ISIS will not stop in Iraq or Syria and could do harm to Turkey,” a major U.S. Ally in the region said Nelson. And the longtime Floridian noted at the end of his remarks that “we are all in this together as citizens of planet earth,” and given world events this ‘is a unique time in history,” Nelson closed.
What about the Import Export Bank?
Nelson told Chamber members that they should hold a “prayer session” with Congress members since the Import Export Bank it is being stymied by the body and it helps finance businesses in other nations and helps with the nation’s trade deficit and business in general. And since then the Chamber has passed the following Resolution on the organization and since Miami is such a trading hub the Bank and its ability to finance deals is no small issue here in South Florida.
Greater Miami Chamber supports Import/Export Bank
>>> GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ISSUES RESOLUTIONS IN SUPPORT OF EXPORT-IMPORT BANK AND ALL ABOARD FLORIDA
Press release: – The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has recently voiced its support of the Export-Import Bank reauthorization and the All Aboard Florida passenger rail line project.
The Chamber vetted the subjects below through its public policy process. The process engaged specific Chamber committees and examined the issues surrounding each. The Chamber’s process focused on open dialogue and member involvement, and supported by the Chamber’s Legislative Policy Committee, Executive Committee and Board of Directors, developed positions supported by Chamber leadership.
The Chamber has resolved to support the reauthorization of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States Charter, which is set to expire in September. The Chamber believes that the Ex-Im Bank is critical to the success of the United States economy. It provides critical assistance to businesses of all sizes with more than 88% of all Ex-Im transactions directly supporting U.S. small businesses.
Over the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has helped companies to create and sustain 1.2 million export-related jobs in the United States; and has been especially beneficial to South Florida’s economy, assisting more than 390 South Florida companies, which exported their products and services around the world totaling more than $2 billion in exports since 2010.
The Chamber also issued a resolution in support of All Aboard Florida and its parent company Florida East Coast Industries in constructing a 235-mile passenger railroad train between downtown Miami and Orlando, while also affirming support for the proposed downtown Miami central station. The project, which has been attempted several times in the past, is a needed transportation link between Miami and Orlando with key intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach that will bestow substantial economic benefits directly to Greater Miami through increased business revenues, new construction jobs, increased tourism and roadway safety, and relief of traffic congestion.
The Chamber recommends the approval of this project as it appears to be both economically sustainable — based on the announced plan for private funding of both capital and operating costs and use of existing infrastructure — and ecologically sustainable — promoting energy efficiency by reducing carbon emissions and the need to travel by private car, and offering transportation solutions to environmental issues including decreasing short-distance flights, relieving turnpike and I-95 corridors by reducing the usage of cars and ultimately improving urban mobility.
In addition, the project has significant opportunities for economic stimulus as it is estimated that: the Florida economy will grow by more than $6 billion dollars over the next eight years; create 10,000 jobs per year during its construction and 5,000 permanent jobs once completed; and its economic impact during construction is estimated to be $143.2 million dollars for Miami-Dade County and $593.4 million dollars for South Florida.
>>>>Web page announcement: The Knight Foundation is looking for big ideas on how to make communities better and for more on the program go to Knight Cities Challenge 2014-15 Initial Application - Hide Guidelines Ends on 11/14/2014 what’s your best idea to make cities more successful? The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators – activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects, city officials, companies, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains, social workers, and neighbors, anyone – who will take hold of the future of our cities. From a pool of $5 million we’re awarding grants at the city, neighborhood and block levels – and all sizes in between. No project is too small - so long as the idea is big. We are looking for fresh ideas that focus on one or more of these three key drivers of city success: attracting and retaining talented people, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida Receives Attorney General Awards
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announces that yesterday in Washington, D.C. Attorney General Eric Holder presented 278 Justice Department employees and 10 individuals, including one Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida with Attorney General Awards. These annual awards recognize department employees and other individuals for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “This awards confirms that which I already know – that the attorneys and staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are of the highest caliber in the nation. I am proud that the Department has recognized AUSA Kevin Larsen for this well-deserved award. His dedication, hard work and commitment to the cause of justice makes him a worthy recipient of this great honor.”
“With this important event, we come together to honor some of our nation’s most distinguished, dedicated, and deserving public servants,” said Attorney General Holder. “The hard work and impressive achievements of these 278 award recipients have inspired their colleagues at every level of the U.S. Department of Justice – including me. Their leadership has been indispensable in defining the past year as one of historic accomplishment in the face of nearly unprecedented challenge.” In the Southern District of Florida, the following individual was recognized for the following award: The Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention recognizes exceptional dedication and effort to prevent, investigate and prosecute fraud, white-collar crimes and official corruption. This team is honored for its exceptional perseverance, diligence and vision in the investigation, litigation and prosecution of allegations that Johnson & Johnson and two of its subsidiaries, Janssen and Scios, improperly promoted drugs, disregarded patient safety and paid kickbacks to enhance sales. The resolution marks the culmination of an extensive, coordinated eight-year investigation. The team’s extraordinary efforts resulted in three civil complaints and two criminal information’s filed in the three different districts, and demonstrated an exemplary use of parallel proceedings. More important, the team’s efforts resulted in Johnson & Johnson paying in excess of $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from its illegal misbranding and fraudulent marketing of drugs to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children and those with developmental disabilities, and its payment of kickbacks to physicians and the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider. The global resolution is the third largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history, and with respect to Risperdal, the resolution is the largest settlement for one drug.This year’s award is presented to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin James Larsen from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>>Ten Additional Alleged Members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation Gang Indicted- Gang Allegedly Responsible For Multiple Murders in Illinois, Indiana, and Florida
Ten alleged members of the violent Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida for their roles in various murders in Miami, Chicago, and East Chicago. Fifteen alleged members of the gang have now been charged by the Justice Department in this case.U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement. The second superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Oct. 9, 2014, and unsealed today, charges Robert Martinez, aka “Trap,” 20, of Miami, along with Rogelio Perez, aka “Popeye,” 40, Eddie Camacho, aka “NeNe,” 35, Miguel Pedraza, aka “Fuzzy,” 33, Ryan Perez, aka “Lil Dk,” 32, Carlos Mena, aka “Rollo,” 33, Carlos Gomez, aka “Lokes,” 35, and Guillermo Sinisterra, aka “Memo,” 26, all of Chicago, with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, including murder. Piero Benitez, aka “Bam Bam,” 27, of Skokie, Illinois, was charged with murder in aid of racketeering, and Santiago Salcedo, aka “Chino,” 25, of Miami, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Alleged fellow gang members Jose Herrera, aka “Spyro,” 27, Leonel Carrera, aka “Leo,” 25, Victor Lopez, aka “Magic,” Ramon Madruga, aka “Porky” 28, and Alex Enrique Somarriba, aka “A-Rock,” 28, all of Chicago, were previously charged in the superseding indictment unsealed in this case on Aug. 4, 2014, and remain charged in the second superseding indictment. According to the second superseding indictment, all fifteen defendants are members of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation, which is a nationally-known organized street gang that originated in the near northwest side of Chicago and spread to other regions of the United States, including South Florida. Members and associates of the Almighty Imperial Gangsters Nation allegedly engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault, as well as narcotics distribution and other criminal activities. Specifically, the indictment charges that the gang is responsible for twelve murders in Miami, Chicago and East Chicago, Indiana between 1985 and 2011, including the murder of a state prosecution witness whose cooperation with law enforcement ultimately led to the conviction of the gang’s South Florida leader, Victor Lopez, on cocaine distribution charges. The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This case is being investigated by the FBI field offices in Chicago, Miami, and Merrillville, Indiana, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in Merrillville, Indiana, along with the Miami-Dade Police Department, the City of Miami Police Department, the Chicago Police Department, the Franklin Park, Illinois, Police Department, and the East Chicago, Indiana Police Department. The Florida Department of Corrections and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with this case. The case is being prosecuted by Joseph A. Cooley and Rebecca A. Staton of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, as well as the Forfeiture Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern District of Indiana and the Northern District of Illinois, as well as the State Attorneys’ Offices for Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in Florida and Cook County in Illinois. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>>> Joseph Cooper at WLRN 91.3 FM Celebrates 40 years, show went from analog to digital in that time, what other changes occurred?
Joseph Cooper is celebrating 40years at WLRN and his show Topical Currents that I have been on many times since March of 2000 and will be on again Nov. 3 to discuss the upcoming election and the show has become a community staple and is highly popular with listeners. Cooper who has been absent after a prolonged Medical issue kept him on the sidelines has returned to the microphone and is now teamed up with Bonnie Berman and below is a short promo of a past show
Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman share the microphone with a wide range of guests including community leaders, artists, scientists, historians, political thinkers and more who bring issues of interest to South Floridians. Richard Ives is the senior producer, and Bonnie Berman joined Topical Currents as co-host and associate producer in September 2012. Paul Leary is the technical director and online producer.
Credit Paul Leary / WLRN1:
>>> 10/15/14 – Today’s Topical Currents takes a much different approach than usual….We’re turning the tables!! An interviewer . . . becomes an interviewee. Bonnie Berman’s guest for the hour is a friend, mentor and colleague: Joseph Cooper. The Topical Currents host and executive producer celebrates his 40th anniversary at WLRN in 2014. He came to the station back when it was a low-powered, monaural education outlet. It had just recently qualified as a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grantee and had just joined the fledgling National Public Radio Network. He’s seen the long road of progress and excellence in public broadcasting. That’s Topical Currents Wednesday at 1pm. -And to listen to the show where Cooper reflects on the past 40 years and all the changes from analog to digital that was a major change for the station go to . Joseph Cooper Talks about His 40 Years At WLRN with Bonnie Berman
Joseph Cooper circa 1977 at WLRN
Listening…/ This program is a fundraising edition.
>>>> Empty podium at start of gubernatorial debate stumps journalists and audience, dust-up between Scott & Crist was over small fan at candidate’s feet, very odd controversy, not a good moment for either candidate
In one of the strangest gubernatorial debates in Florida History Gov. Rick Scott did not walk out at the beginning of the CBS 4 debate for seven minutes leaving the podium empty and challenger Charlie Crist standing at his podium ready to begin the debate but looking puzzled concerning what was transpiring and had incumbent Scott claiming Crist broke the debate rules by bringing a small electric fan to his podium, a Crist ideosyncroncy but it created a strange picture for viewers who wondered what was going on and when Scott strode out there was almost a palpable sigh of relief from his political camp and the banter between the two men at the beginning had the same glib substance as their political attack ads and Scott afterwards was seen to have been the loser in the incident with election day looming Nov.4 with the race in the polls neck and neck but leaning slightly for Crist trying to recapture his past office as a Democrat after bolting from the GOP in 2010. And to watch the opening of the debate go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/15/1336915/-Unreal-Rick-Scott-refuses-to-debate-Charlie-Crist-because-of-a-well-just-nbsp-watch And the fan caricature below is from a Scott email campaign ad this week to the press picking up on the fan theme considered by many as either childish since we are talking about the governor of the state or in some camps Crist’s penchant with fans is becoming odd and peculiar that he has to have one every time he speaks and some wonder if he is on some medication that makes him prone to sweat, and given his many years in politics some wonder why he has not gotten more relaxed when in the public eye. And to read The Miami Herald’s take on the debate go to http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article2909766.html
On the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement. >>> Update: Two encouraging meetings… The first, a visit from the Governor to the Rainbow Intergenerational Child Care center in Little Havana where he discussed his early learning priorities. That includes his support for “Help Me Grow,” a statewide parent resource system where parents would be able — via phone and online — to get answers to questions about their child’s development and connected with the proper resources. The second, a meeting with future House Speaker, Rep. Jose Oliva from Hialeah. He’s a father of three, a real reader of history and student of policy, and committed to better understanding early learning. Dave Lawrence, Chair The Children’s Movement.
>>> House Dist. 112 race getting ugly with endless attack campaign pieces in the voters mailboxes
State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami is being challenged by GOP candidate Daniel Diaz Leyva in a tough fought race that has the candidates going after each other and in many attack campaign flyers by both men who are attorneys and House Dist. 112 is a swing district and Diaz Leyva is getting support from long serving GOP Congress woman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, R-Miami and former Congressman Adam Putnam in the state House race. Rodriguez won the House seat when he defeated Alex Diaz de La Portilla in 2012 when he got 54 percent of the vote over the former state senator, but there was significant controversy with DLP that is not the case in this current race and insiders consider the race a toss-up and will depend on Democratic Party voter’s turnout.
>>>> Controversial Trolley Depot in Grove runs into Title VI issues, “How did we get this wrong?” Commissioner Moss asks Gables lawmakers in chambers
A County Commission transportation and Aviation Committee heard testimony from City of Miami and Coral Gables Leaders on how a trolley depot was built in the middle of residences in Coconut Grove and created a major Civil Rights controversy and Commissioner Dennis Moss and Jean Monestime called the meeting to find out how this happened and became a violation of federal civil rights since one of the trolleys got federal funding and resulted in the “federal investigation,” said Moss. How “we get this wrong?” did asked Moss to the panel that included Alice Bravo of the city of Miami and Gables attorney Craig Leen and Gable Commissioners Patricia Keon and Vince Lago. Leen noted that while the “facility was placed there,” the city of Coral Gables never used the facility and once the city heard there was “such public disagreement.” The city attorney said, When we learned about it “we sued the developer and do not believe it was zoned correctly,” and he said we “did not want this building to be in dispute under Title VI” with the “FTA he said.” Leen told commissioners there was disagreement where the facility should go and a settlement agreement now limits how the building can be used and “we have to be very careful [in the future] where we place a building outside of the City,” said Leen. The attorney noted it “was about doing the right thing,” and Lago noted the issue was prior to his being on the dais “we were wrong and [the city] should have done better due diligence,” and “we were wrong to to not take into account the local community better,” Keon said. Moss hearing this said it is “Power to truth and a learning opportunity for all of us,” and when these issues come up we need to “hone in on them because we all need to do what is right for the community.” A Federal official said there was no “malicious intent,” but there was an obligation to comply with federal regulations “and this was a very unique situation,” and the facility was not paid for with any federal monies, but because it included “one trolley,” “it “federalized the project,” and there needed to be a “equity analysis of the site” to see if there was any discriminatory nature to the site, the federal official said and we reached “Out to the city” and the county because in the future they have to keep this in mind and “it is appropriate for FTA to come in and give guidance now and then in the future so things are in line with civil rights requirements.” “And [while] there was no intent to intentionally violate TITLE VI,” I wanted you to see our good faith and we did everything we could to do the right thing,” said the Gable’s attorney. He noted a new maintenance facility will probably be on US 1, near Riviera where a Fire Station is and the property is owned by the city.
L to R Mayor Cason, Lagos, Keon
>>> The discussion of the economic development agreement and funding of an industrial park at Opa Locka Airport and is a “Legacy project for [Carrie P. Meek] and the developer is bringing some 435 billion in assets]” and funding for the Meek Foundation at County Hall last week raised an issue written about in a past WDR.http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article2824695.html Barbara Jordan a Meek ally came to the defense of the possible funding during the discussion saying, it was a “game changer,” since it created “jobs and [provided training] the two things that are needed in my community [Northwest Dade],” and she noted “at the Opa Locka Airport it was happening on the aviation side where the rent is low and thought working with the Meek Foundation,” was the way to go since it “was the private public sector working together,” she said and this alliance mantra was the new phrase of the day at county hall and she went after County Mayor Carlos Alvarez who she called schizophrenic when it came to his “leadership” and the mayor who changed his mind on some of the projects needs to “stick” to his decisions and not vacillate like he has done in the past for example, during the budget hearings, said an angry and frustrated Jordan.
>>> Here is a past WDR on the Meek Foundation that got “seed money” from the County
U.S. Rep Kendrick Meek, D-Miami (net worth roughly $62,000 in 2002) is in the media spotlight Saturday after an aide received a $13,000 home loan from Dennis Stackhouse, who is awaiting trial for stealing $1 million from a failed public project called Poinciana Park www.miamiherald.com and the story puts the congressman and his family back into the public eye. Meek, the Democratic Party front-runner for the U.S. Senate race in August has been below the radar for much of the preliminary months and has yet to spend any of his $3 million plus cash that he has raised for his campaign war chest. He was on Watch This Week’s Issues - Interview with U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek: Interview with U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek: Part 1 of 2 -Interview with U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek: Part 2 of 2 on Friday and Sunday. He discusses his campaign that started with him qualifying to run for the office by getting over 125,000 voters signatures statewide rather than pay the $10,000 qualifying fee as other candidates have done. Meek, taking a move out of past Gov. Lawton Chiles political playbook has met constantly with Democratic and other voters throughout Florida over the months but his name recognition is still low and he trails Gov. Charlie Crist (Net worth $466,000) and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami (Net worth $8,351) in the polls. Meek during his earlier life worked as a Skycap at MIA and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and he became a Miami-Dade County lobbyist during the end of the 1990s. Back then, Meek represented Wackenhut Security as a representative in front of the county and he was paid around $90,000 in that activity. During this time, Meek was also a sate senator and in 2002 gave Gov. Jeb Bush his only major policy defeat when the Florida Class-size Amendment was approved by state voters and championed by Meek.
Meek, whose mother Carrie preceded him in the congressional seat after being elected in 1992 to the body, retired at the last minute in 2002 and Kendrick was the only candidate to file and qualify for the office, where the sudden congressional seat opening caught many others by surprise. The elder Meek took-up the lobbying banner after her retirement from public office and she has represented Lennar Homes, the rock mining industry, URS, and Wackenhut from 2004 on. In the case of Stackhouse, he paid her $90,000 for her lobbying and supplied a Cadillac Escalade for her use and while her son says, they did not discuss these issues that had her complain he does not listen to me. It still has a look the younger Meek can do without, in what is expected to be a bruising three-way Democratic Party senate race that now has billionaire Jeff Greene and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre in the ring as well.
Meek the elder is also chair of the Carrie Meek Foundation, a not-for –profit entity that gets funding from a variety of sources including Miami-Dade County that granted hundreds of thousands in “seed money” funding during a commission budget meeting years ago. There also is the issue of the Meek connection with Wackenhut, previously extensively reported in the Watchdog Report that has caused some of the controversy regarding these lobbyist activities that are separate from the Stackhouse investigation after the security firm sued Miami-Dade for $20 million after a critical county internal audit stated transit was over billed by over $3 million for phantom employees providing security by the company. The county a few months ago settled with Wackenhut and the issue never came to a head but it required the elder Meek to seek a conflict of interest waiver last summer with the county commission since she is also a lobbyist for the county in Washington and is paid up to $75,000 a year for this effort. Further, over the years the congressman, his attorney wife and now mother all represented the security company the congressman back in 2002 got a $92,000 salary for the lobbying gig. To see another person’s take on the Meek family >>> See what Eye On Miami wrote about Carrie Meek back in 2007: http://eyeonmiami.blogspot.com/2007/06/more-on-carrie-meek-by-geniusofdespair.html >>> Editor’s Note: A board member of the MEEK Foundation and a County employee is Lucia Davis-Raiford and the woman is the daughter of former Congresswoman Meek.
What about the swearing in of new Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava on Nov. 18th ?
The newly elected commissioner Daniella Levine Cava asked Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa last week if she could change the date for her swearing in ceremony (to Nov. 18) and when the commission votes on its new chair to Nov. 24 and the body agreed to the date change and while a motion was her first victory on the 13 member commission. Further, Levine Cava elected to the District 8 seat on the dais has been having Sunshine Meetings with her fellow commissioners to hear their views on a variety of matters and is showing she is doing her homework prior to sitting on the body after she defeated incumbent Commissioner Lynda Bell in a tough well financed commission race, that also had the support of Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
|RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR SEPTEMBER 2014 MARKING 4 YEARS AND 9 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES
Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased +2.3% in September 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. This marks 4 years and 9 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry.
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>>>> SUPERINTENDENT ALBERTO M. CARVALHO SIGNS RENEWAL MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH ITALY
Press release: Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho and Consul General Adolfo Barattolo signed a renewal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) and the government of Italy today at the Consul General of Italy in Coral Gables.
The MOU has been in effect since 2005, providing Italian language instruction to approximately 1,000 M-DCPS students. The renewal MOU provides students with the opportunity to become literate in both English and Italian. They also can pursue an academic curriculum with an international focus that addresses the rigorous standards of both U.S. and European Union educational systems. Three M-DCPS schools offer an Italian dual language program: George Washington Carver Elementary, George Washington Carver Middle, and International Studies Preparatory Academy.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> PHT President Migoya tells County commissioner’s Jackson is ready for Ebola since public hospital has been Region 7 Anchor for any WMD or other health crisis like Ebola
Carlos Migoya, the President and CEO of Jackson Health System (JHS) gave the Miami-Dade County Commission an update on preparedness for an Ebola patient presenting at the public hospital and they are ready said Migoya. JHS has served this public health role in the past and is the anchor hospital for Region Seven for any public health crisis like Anthrax years go after 9/11 and the community was on edge and protective gear was bought in preparation of an issue with Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Migoya assured commissioners that Jackson was prepared for any Ebola patients that might present in our diverse community and the County commission will hear another presentation on the issue this week that will also include the Department of Health officials who also are involved in this new medical challenge the world is facing.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>>> Street Gang Members Charged with Drug Conspiracy, Firearms Violations, Carjacking, and Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering Activity
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, and Manuel Orosa, Chief, Miami Police Department (MPD), announce charges against 21 members and associates of the Big Money Team, a street gang operating in the Little Havana and Allapattah neighborhoods of Miami. The second superseding indictment includes charges of conspiracy to possess and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 and 846, possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking and violent crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924, firearm and ammunition possession by convicted felons, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922 and 924, carjacking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2119, and commission of violent crime in aid of racketeering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1959.
The following 17 individuals are charged in the second superseding indictment: Maurin Chacon a/k/a “Tiny,” a/k/a “Peludo,” a/k/a “Yung Patron,” 27; Christopher Altamirano a/k/a “Tango,” a/k/a “”Peter Baitz,” 22; Rodolfo Portela a/k/a “Papo L. Desperado,” 29; Dayaan Zerquera a/k/a “Dsbf BMT Kid,” 24; Raymond Moore a/k/a “Flaco,” a/k/a “Dinero Banks,” a/k/a “Young Gunna,” 22; Alioth Salas, a/k/a “Ali,” 27; Luis Salas a/k/a “Chico Black,” 22; Christian Ramirez a/k/a “Joker,” 31; Joseph Thompson a/k/a “Joe,” 29; Carlos Tinoco a/k/a “C-Lo,” 22; James Dixon a/k/a “Smoke,” 20; Steven Castro a/k/a “YM Stevo,” 23; Dwight Forte, 22; Jay Anthony Flores a/k/a “Jay Gambino,” 19; Joel Diaz a/k/a “Borie,” a/k/a “El Paisa,” and a/k/a “Buom Clock,” 25; Fernando Roberto Darce a/k/a “Bonesz,” 20; and Mario Balboa, 29; all of Miami.
According to the second superseding indictment, these 17 defendants and co-defendants Nadim Guzman, 21, Angel Martinez, a/k/a “Telly,” a/k/a “Tboy,” 22, Kevin Diaz, 19, and Miguel Rodriguez, a/k/a “Fat Boy,” a/k/a “Barba,” 19, each of Miami, were members or associates of the “Big Money Team,” a street gang that engaged in violent crime, such as, robbery, assault, directed prostitution, armed street-level drug trafficking and obstruction of justice.
As alleged in the second superseding indictment, Big Money Team enriched its members and associates through, among other things, robbery, prostitution, and distribution of controlled substances, such as crack cocaine, Molly, and marijuana; preserving and protecting the power, territory, and profits of the gang through assault, obstruction of justice, intimidation, violence, and threats of violence; and keeping victims and witnesses in fear of the gang members and associates through threats of violence and violence. Additionally, defendant Luis Salas is charged with one count of carjacking on or about May 31, 2014.
Co-defendants Nadim Guzman, Angel Martinez, and Kevin Diaz charged by a prior indictment on June 13, 2014, previously pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. Co-defendant Miguel Rodriguez, also charged by the prior indictment, previously pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 and 846. Sentencing for Nadim Guzman is scheduled for October 15, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams. Sentencing for Miguel Rodriguez, Kevin Diaz, and Angel Martinez is scheduled for December 2, 2014, also before Judge Williams. Defendants Nadim Guzman, Angel Martinez, and Kevin Diaz each face up to 40 years in prison, to be followed by up to five years of supervised release. Defendant Miguel Rodriguez faces up to 200 years in prison, to be followed by up to five years of supervised release.Co-Defendants Maurin Chacon, Christopher Altamirano, Rodolfo Portela, Dayaan Zerquera, Raymond Moore, Christian Ramirez, and James Dixon, originally charged by a prior indictment on June 13, 2014, are scheduled for trial commencing on December 1, 2014, before Judge Williams.
Defendants Carlos Tinoco, Luis Salas, Fernando Roberto Darce, Steven Castro, Jay Anthony Flores and Dwight Forte made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Goodman. Defendant Joseph Thompson is expected to make his initial appearance next week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes. Defendants Alioth Salas, Joel Diaz and Mario Balboa remain at large.
If convicted, each of the defendants faces up to life in prison for conspiring to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute. Defendant Maurin Chacon, Christopher Altamirano, Rodolfo Portela, Dayaan Zerquera, Raymond Moore, Christian Ramirez, and James Dixon face up to twenty years in prison for possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. Defendant Maurin Chacon, Christopher Altamirano, Rodolfo Portela, Dayaan Zerquera, Christian Ramirez, Joseph Thompson, Carlos Tinoco, Dwight Forte, and Joel Diaz face up to life in prison for possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking or violent crime. Defendants Maurin Chacon and Dayaan Zerquera face up to ten years in prison for firearm and ammunition possession by convicted felons. Defendants Rodolfo Portela and Joseph Thompson face up to life in prison for firearm and ammunition possession by convicted felon armed career criminals. Defendants Maurin Chacon, Christopher Altamirano, Joseph Thompson and Dwight Forte faces up to twenty years in prison on the commission of violent crime in aid of racketeering charge. Defendant Luis Salas faces up to fifteen years in prison on the carjacking charge.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “Today’s charges are possible because of the continued cooperation between federal and local law enforcement to combat gang-related crime in our communities. The arrest of these defendants represents a significant victory to the residents of Little Havana and Allapattah, as we have effectively removed eighteen members and associates of the violent street gang, ‘Big Money Team.’ We will continue to prosecute individuals whose violent criminal conduct and brazen threats paralyze neighborhoods with fear as federal law, including the Violent Crime in Aiding and Abetting Racketeering statute, charged today, provides stiff penalties for repeat offenders, drug traffickers, and firearm violators. Our office is proud of this collaborative relationship and looks forward to many more operations – like this one – aimed at making our communities safer. ”Today’s arrests demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to dismantle violent drug trafficking gangs that are affecting the quality of life of our law abiding citizens in the community. The key to this fight is bringing the resources of all levels of government to empower law enforcement to target organized groups of violent criminals with enhanced punishment and criminal penalties through the utilization of federal statutes, such as, the Violent Crime in Aiding and Abetting Racketeering statute. This sends a clear message that our community will not tolerate the heinous activity perpetrated by gangs like Big Money Team, and evidences our commitment to work together to dismantle violent street gangs,” stated Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, Miami Field Division. Chief of Police Manuel Orosa stated, “I am committed to improving the neighborhood of Little Havana and ridding it of thugs and drug dealers. This community is special to me because it is the neighborhood I grew up in.” Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF and the MPD Gang Intelligence Detail through their participation in the Miami-Dade County Multi-Agency Gang Task Force. Mr. Ferrer also thanked Miami-Dade Police Department’s Robbery Bureau and Street Gang Section, MPD’s Little Havana Problem Solving Team, MPD’s Robbery Unit, Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department’s Security Threat Group Unit, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Gang Strike Force, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Homestead Police Department, the Miami-Beach Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their assistance in the investigation and arrests of the defendants. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ignacio J. Vázquez, Jr. and Ilham Hosseini. An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
Press release: One of the pledges I made during last year’s mayoral campaign was to fix what’s broken and to make things work for the residents and visitors of Miami Beach. Investing in our aging infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise has been a focal point of our first year in office. The positive effects of these efforts were visible during the annual October King Tides, which typically bring “sunny day flooding” to flood-prone areas throughout Miami Beach. Below is an Op-Ed published in today’s Miami Herald detailing our current efforts to combat sea level rise and the investments that we, as elected officials, have made to secure Miami Beach’s future. We are very pleased with the initial results of our new stormwater pump stations, which show that the pumping system can and will work. We are not declaring victory. This is one small battle in a long-term war we are fighting against rising sea levels.
Miami Beach moving to fight back-Mayor Philip Levine
The truest measure of any society, or any person, is the willingness to protect a future they will never personally experience. Call it what you will – caring for others, having a conscience, paying it forward – but this is precisely what defines and motivates the best in all of us. This is especially true when the cause is universal, the effects are close to home, and the outcome is uncertain. Like America’s “greatest generation,” who, at a critical moment in time, stood together to defeat the terror of Nazi Germany.
Like President John F. Kennedy, who stared down Khrushchev-like dictators banging shoes on tables to claim what was never theirs? Like President Ronald Reagan, who inspired a nation to believe again after a prolonged time of doubt and despair?
Today, we are all facing another test of will and determination. Rising sea levels, reflecting a rapidly changing and unpredictable climate, now pose a current and future threat to coastal cities from Miami Beach and New York to London and Tokyo. As the waters rise, rest assured they won’t ask whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat; conservative or liberal; white, black or Hispanic. So instead of self-serving demonizing and demagoguing that tears us apart, let’s work together to find remedies and answers that serve others. Instead of conjecturing about things we don’t know, let’s focus on things we do. Here are four truths: Fact: Climate change is affected by human behavior and misbehavior, affirmed by leading scientists and experts from the National Academy of Sciences and NASA, to the American Meteorological Society, Army Corps of Engineers, and United Nations. Fact: We can debate how much greenhouse gases affect weather, sea levels, and human health, but not whether they do at all.
Fact: Sea levels along America’s East Coast are projected to rise three to four times faster than the global average over the next century, and rising water levels around Miami Beach – a barrier island built over natural mangrove wetlands – are causing increased street and property flooding.
Fact: If we do nothing, we have only ourselves to blame, and the “something” many fear becomes more likely. Here in Miami Beach, the frequency of flooding has increased, and it’s not uncommon to see parked cars inundated by quickly rising flood waters, pedestrians walking barefoot through knee-high waters, or even property flooding on a day full of sunshine. We must weather storm surge, and scientific studies predict extreme weather events such as storms, floods, and hurricanes will increase in frequency and intensity. Although extreme impacts from these threats may still be a few decades away, Miami Beach is moving today – and together – to fight back. As Mayor, beyond the personal and financial security of our residents, and the health of the local economy, this is my biggest priority. In the short term, we have developed a three- to five-year plan built around the installation of 60 pump stations and one-way flex valves throughout our City. This initiative is already paying dividends. During our annual King Tide, where sea levels reach peak elevation, and when historically certain Miami Beach streets are flooded, this year streets in the lowest areas were repaired and DRY – one very positive step in a long journey in our ongoing battle. Moving forward, over time we intend to raise roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructures; to impose stricter development regulations providing higher finished floor elevations, and creating additional storage areas for collecting storm water. To reduce our carbon footprint caused by the release of greenhouse gasses, the city will lead its residents by example through increased investments in multi-modal mass transit, better pedestrian and bicycle flow, and energy efficiency. We’re getting smarter by the day in knowing the questions that must be asked, and as Mayor of Miami Beach there’s nothing I won’t do, no place I won’t go, to seek the answers to one of the greatest challenges society as we know it has ever confronted. As Great Britain faced an impending invasion during World War II, Winston Churchill said, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. “These words still guide us today, in the fight to secure our future.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Will inaccurate crime figures come back to haunt Mayor Cason if he decides to run again in April, crime was an issue in Commission Cabrera race back in 2012
The race for Coral Gables Mayor in April may heat up with the resignation of Police Chief Dennis Weiner recently for embellishing the city’s crime statistics that were worse than his department’s reporting. In 2012 during the mayoral race back then candidate Ralph Cabrera, Jr., made crime in the City Beautiful a major campaign topic but Mayor Jim Cason at the time dismissed that charge but in this upcoming election cycle that may come back to haunt the mayor who will likely face a challenger though no one has yet announced they would run against Cason and he was undecided when the Watchdog Report asked if he was running again a few months ago saying he was waiting to see who the new manger was before he would decide, he said at the time from the dais. Readers in the Gables should stay tuned.
CITY OF HOMESTEAD
>>>>Miami-Dade Business Owner Sentenced to 5.5 Years for Medicaid Fraud
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Attorney General Pam Bondi announce the sentencing of Yamile Calvo-Gonzalez, 41, of Homestead. United States District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced Calvo-Gonzalez to 66 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered her to pay $2,015,286.24 in restitution to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Calvo-Gonzalez, who previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349, was the owner of WY Medical Group and Rehabilitation Services, Inc., located in Miami-Dade County.
“Health care fraud threatens the strength and integrity of our health care system,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “As I have previously stated, we remain steadfast in our efforts to protect Medicaid from fraud and abuse for those who need it – the sick, the elderly and the poor. We will continue to work with our state and local law enforcement partners to bring justice to anyone seeking to defraud Medicaid.”
“We will continue to partner with federal, state and local agencies to uphold the integrity of the Medicaid program and to protect taxpayer dollars,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), is comprised of the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Department of Justice and other federal, state and local agencies. The Florida Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and HHS-OIG investigated this case.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of Florida Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Hagerenesh Simmons. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Louis N. Gallo, III, 45, of Parkland, the Vice-President of Commodities Online LLC (COL), was Vice-President of Investment Company Sentenced in $21 Million Fraud Scheme sentenced yesterday for his participation in a $21 million investment fraud scheme.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard sentenced Gallo to 168 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Lenard also ordered Gallo to pay restitution of $19,919,994 to victims of the fraud scheme involving COL as well as a successor company. In addition, the sentence included a criminal forfeiture money judgment of $21,631,466, and forfeiture of Gallo’s interest in a car, two bank accounts and three properties.
Gallo pled guilty on August 8, 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, and Section 1349. According to court documents, Gallo conspired with co-defendants James C. Howard, III, Patricia S. Saa, Michael R. Casey and others to defraud individuals who invested in COL. From approximately January 2010 through April 2011, Howard and his co-conspirators used material false and fraudulent representations and material omissions to obtain over $21 million from over 700 investors. The COL investors lost $18,919,994.
According to court documents, Gallo and his co-conspirators offered investors the opportunity to participate in funding certain purported “pre-sold” commodities contracts. Gallo and his co-conspirators represented to investors that COL had a track record of profits. However, COL did not have profits. Any payments made to investors were made using funds received from newer investors.
Also according to court documents, Gallo and his co-conspirators also caused material misrepresentations to be made about the leaders of COL. Gallo and his co-conspirators represented to investors that the President of COL was an attorney, co-defendant Michael R. Casey. However, the founder, co-defendant James Howard was in charge. Also, Gallo and his co-conspirators did not disclose to investors that both Gallo and Howard had previously been convicted of federal felonies and that Gallo was still serving a term of supervised release. According to court documents, Gallo and his co-conspirators also made material misrepresentations and omissions about the misuse of funds that COL received from investors. For example, Gallo caused at least $2.5 million to be diverted for himself and his family. Also according to court documents, after COL was taken over by a court-appointed Receiver, Gallo participated in a similar scheme involving Global Solutions and Acquisitions LLC (GSA). Approximately 50 individuals invested about $1.1 million in GSA. The GSA investors lost about $900,000. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ana Maria Martinez and John P. Gonsoulin.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>>> Another Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Fraud Scheme Involving Personal Identifying Information from AT&T Customer Files
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Jacqueline Nicole Lee Warrick, 26, of Miami, was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke. Warrick was sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Warrick previously pled guilty to one count of using an authorized access device and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A.On July 30, 2014, co-defendant Tracey Delva, 27, of Deerfield Beach, pled guilty to one count of access device fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A. Sentencing for Delva is scheduled for October 29, 2014.
On August 6, 2014, co-defendant Chouman Emily Syrilien, 25, of Lauderdale Lakes, was sentenced to 34 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Syrilien pled guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(3) and 1028A. On October 1, 2014, Carlos Antonio Alexander, 24, of Orlando, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Alexander pled guilty to one count of using an authorized access device and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A.
On September 3, 2014, Angel Arcos, 23, of Pompano Beach, was sentenced to time served, to be followed by four years of supervised release. As a condition of his supervised release, Arcos was subject to 180 days of home detention with electronic monitoring. Arcos pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.
On September 3, 2014, Monique Smith, 31, of Pompano Beach, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section and 1028A. Arrington Basil Segu, 28, of Miami pled guilty to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A. Sentencing for Smith and Segu is scheduled for November 19, 2014.On September 22, 2014, Shantegra La’Shae Godfrey, 23, of Deerfield Beach, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Sentencing is scheduled for December 3, 2014.According to court documents, defendant Syrilien was employed by Interactive Response Technologies, Inc. (IRT) located in Margate. IRT provides staffing for call centers to handle direct sales and customer inquiries for AT&T. Syrilien unlawfully provided a co-conspirator with the personal identifying information from multiple AT&T customer files. Segu also unlawfully provided personal identifying information of numerous individuals to the co-conspirator.Alexander, Delva, Godfrey, Smith and Warrick were added as “authorized users” on victims’ credit or debit card accounts or bank accounts to access the accounts of persons whose personal identifying information had been stolen. Once a co-conspirator’s name was added as an “authorized user,” the bank and/or credit card company was directed to mail additional debit or credit cards bearing the names of these newly added “authorized users” to their addresses or addresses under their control, all without the true account holder’s knowledge or consent. The defendants used these credit and debit cards to make purchases or obtain money.Delva and Warrick both utilized fraudulently obtained debit and credit cards that bore their names as additional “authorized users” on victims’ accounts to make both retail purchases as well as cash advances in excess of $28,000. Alexander, Smith and Godfrey made retail purchases as well as cash advances in excess of $24,000, $12,000 and $8,200, respectively. Arcos allowed his personal information to be used to open a bank account to further the fraudulent activity. From September 16 to 18, 2013, five withdrawals totaling $13,000 were made from the fraudulent account and deposited into Arcos’ checking account. The defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of 10 years in prison for the access device fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia R. Wood. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls
>>>> A Department of Veterans Affairs Official and Durable Medical Equipment Vendor Charged with Health Care Fraud
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Monty Stokes, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), announce the charges filed against Timothy Rouch, 47, Port St. Lucie, the former Chief of Prosthetics at VA Medical Center West Palm Beach, and Frankie Lane, 52, formerly of Boca Raton, owner of AAA Medical Discount, two defendants for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.
According to the information, the defendants conspired to fraudulently bill the VA in West Palm Beach for durable medical equipment that was never provided to veterans. The VA official solicited and received kickbacks from the vendor. AAA Medical Discount sold over $2.2 million in durable medical equipment to the VA from 2006-2010. If convicted, each faces a statutory maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, to be followed by up to a three-year term of supervised release, and imposition of a $250,000 fine in addition to payment of restitution. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the VA-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Evans. An information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
Additional Cay Clubs Executive Charged in Connection with $300 Million Ponzi Scheme Involving Sales of Vacation Rental Units
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Michael Stephens, Acting Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), announce that Barry J. Graham, 59, of Ft. Lauderdale, was charged by superseding information with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371, in connection with a $300 million Ponzi scheme involving the sale of vacation rental units to approximately 1,400 investors in the Florida Keys and elsewhere. Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas (Cay Clubs) operated from 2004 through 2008 from offices in the Florida Keys and Clearwater. Cay Clubs marketed vacation rental units for 17 locations in Florida, Las Vegas and the Caribbean, to investors throughout the United States. Cay Clubs would promise to develop dilapidated properties into luxury resorts, and would promise investors an upfront “leaseback” payment of 15 to 20% of the sales price of the unit at the time of closing. Once an investor agreed to purchase a unit, Cay Clubs would arrange for a real estate closing and lender financing, but would not disclose the leaseback payment and other financial inducements to the borrowers on paperwork submitted to lending institutions. According to the superseding information, Graham was the Director of Sales for Cay Clubs from 2004 through late 2007. During this time, Graham conspired with others to fraudulently inflate the prices of Cay Clubs units through insider sales. Graham and other insiders purchased units from Cay Clubs without disclosing their affiliation with Cay Clubs. Thereafter, these insider sale prices were used on marketing materials to make it appear to investors that the Cay Clubs units were rapidly increasing in price. Furthermore, the information alleges, as Cay Clubs experienced financial difficulties, Graham conspired with others to fraudulently market the Cay Clubs investment to new investors by making false and misleading statements, including by concealing Cay Clubs’ failure to convert dilapidated properties into luxury resorts.Previously, Fred Davis Clark, Jr., and Cristal R. Clark, a/k/a Cristal R. Coleman, were charged by superseding indictment on September 16, 2014, with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and substantive counts of bank fraud, in connection with the alleged Cay Clubs Ponzi scheme. The defendants were ordered detained pretrial and the matter is currently pending before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in Key West.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, ICE-HSI and FHFA-OIG, and the assistance of the SEC Miami Regional Office in this matter. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy. An information is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida is calling visual artists in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties to submit artwork to interpret A Man Among the Peoples, that will coincide with an exhibition on the life, art and legacy of late Overtown artist, Purvis Young. Selected artwork will be displayed in the lobby of The Historic Lyric Theater as part of “Soul Basel Overtown: A celebration of Art, Music and Culture in Colored Town”.
This an art festival taking place from December 3 – 7, 2014 in Miami’s Historic Overtown District. We encourage imaginative expression in the interpretation of the theme. This project is designed to highlight the work of South Florida artists among others that will be displayed during Art Basel weekend. In addition to the public, museum professionals and art critics are invited to attend the festival. Entries will be accepted via email. Deadline to apply is Monday, November 17, 2014.To enter or for more information, please contact Adia McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 786-708-4
About The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, Inc.:
The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, Inc is a non-profit organization founded in 1977 by Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Ph.D. With a mission to not only preserve the documentary and photographic history of black South Florida, but also to enrich the present and protect the future through the revitalization Miami’s former black business and entertainment district, Overtown. The Black Archives and its programming are supported by the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, Miami-Dade County, The Knight Foundation, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, The Design Group Miami & Drummer Boy Sound. For more information on The Black Archives of South Florida visit www.theblackarchives.org.