For Immediate Release: Former Opa-Locka Building & Licenses Employee Charged in Alleged Theft of City Fees
Miami (May 13, 2021) – As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, former Opa-Locka Building & Licenses Office employee Mary Brown has been charged in the alleged theft of $266,784.00 in city fees. Brown worked as a Building Clerk in the Building and Licenses Office for approximately 5.5 years and has been charged with one (1) count each of Organized Scheme to Defraud (1st Degree Felony), Grand Theft (1st Degree Felony) and Official Misconduct (3rd Degree Felony).
“Allegations that a former City of Opa-Locka employee would have used her position to blatantly steal from the city is horrendous enough,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “But given all the fiscal difficulties that the City of Opa-Locka has worked hard to overcome, such actions are a betrayal of the residents of the city and of those city workers committed to making Opa-Locka stronger. I commend the Miami-Dade Police Department and my prosecutors for aggressively pursuing this investigation.”
Over a 3-year period, beginning in fiscal year 2016 and continuing through fiscal year 2019, Brown allegedly defrauded the City of Opa-Locka by stealing the payments from customers paying cash for business licenses. Brown allegedly organized a scheme to manipulate and circumvent the standard operating procedures established by the City of Opa-Locka by utilizing customer receipts that she deliberately did not inventory or assign in the computer database, as was required. The failure to reference customer receipt numbers in the database limited Opa-Locka’s ability to properly reconcile licenses and payments and allegedly allowed Brown to provide customers with the purchased licenses without the city detecting the thefts. The investigation of Brown’s cash deposits to her personal bank account for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 indicated alleged cash deposits of $116,922 in addition to her total salaried city income of $106,795 for the same period.
“I am very proud of the thorough investigative skills and teamwork exhibited by my Public Corruption Section and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III. “Holding an official post in public service comes with great responsibility, and a violation of such is simply not acceptable.”
For media availability, please call the Office of the State Attorney at 305-547-0535.
For further information, please contact Ed Griffith, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 and EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com.
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Miami – May 12, 2021 – Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has announced that her Price Gouging Hotline is operational and her team of investigators is fully prepared to respond to any and all complaints of price gouging given the state of emergency declared by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Now that the Governor has declared a state of emergency, price gouging is a criminal offense. We are joining efforts with the Miami-Dade Police Department to combat any greedy individuals and businesses that may use threatening events like the cyberattack on the fuel pipeline to take advantage of our community’s fundamental needs by unnecessarily hiking prices to outrageous levels,” commented State Attorney Fernandez Rundle.
“Greedy actions will not be tolerated before, during, or after any event wherein a state of emergency has been declared.”
To report any suspicion of price gouging, and in order to accommodate as many residents as possible, we have set up an email mailbox where complaints about possible price gouging may be sent. The email address is Hotline@miamisao.com Complainants will receive an automatic reply that the information submitted will be reviewed.
Complaints should include the business name, physical address, item(s) believed to be price gouged with photos and receipt(s) and contact information for our staff to communicate with the complainant. Residents may also call the State Attorney’s Hotline at 305-547-3300.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Wednesday that Gas Price Gouging Hotline is in full operation and that her team of investigators is prepared to respond to any and all complaints of price gouging following the state of emergency declared by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Now that the Governor has declared a state of emergency, price gouging is a criminal offense. We are joining efforts with the Miami-Dade Police Department to combat any greedy individuals and businesses that may use threatening events like the cyberattack on the fuel pipeline to take advantage of our community’s fundamental needs by unnecessarily hiking prices to outrageous levels,” said Fernandez Rundle. “Greedy actions will not be tolerated before, during, or after any event wherein a state of emergency has been declared.”
The state attorney is urging members of the community to report any suspicion of price gouging. Residents are encouraged to email their complaint and include the business name, physical address, item(s) believed to be price-gouged with photos and receipt(s) and contact information for our staff to communicate with the complainant.
Residents may also call the State Attorney’s Hotline at 305-547-3300.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle reminds the millions of individuals contending with mental illness that, “They are not alone.”
Miami, Florida (May 10, 2021) – State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle recently joined members of People Acting for Community Together (PACT) for a virtual conversation.
The State Attorney shared information about our office’s Civil Citation Program and other Smart Justice initiatives to those attending including representatives from several faith-based communities such as St. James Catholic Church, Temple Beth Sholom, Coral Gables Congregational Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of South Miami, Miami Friends Meeting, and Our Lady of Lakes Catholic Church.
Log on to MiamiSAO.com/community for more information about State Attorney Fernandez Rundle’s community outreach efforts.
“Jaime Gough’s brutal murder ended a promising young life and forever scarred his family. For them, this news still must tear at their hearts.
I have always felt that Michael Hernandez’ family were also Michael’s victims. Upon his conviction, Michael Hernandez’ family was also scarred by Michael’s actions.
My sympathies to both families.”
– State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle
For Immediate Release: Police Reform Bill (HB 7051) Passes Unanimously Out of the Florida Legislature
Miami (April 29, 2021) – State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is gratified to see that the Police Reform Bill, HB 7051, passed unanimously out of the Florida Senate, after having previously passed unanimously out of the Florida House of Representatives. This bipartisan police reform bill, which incorporates many of the suggestions originally put forward by the State Attorney’s Continuing Justice Reform Commission and had the support of the Miami-Dade County Police Chiefs’ Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Legislative Black Caucus. This legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature.
This legislation requires that the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission establish standards for the instruction of officers on use of force and adopt policies relating to it, including:
• proportional use of force;
• alternatives to force;
• the use of chokeholds (which would be limited to situations involving the immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death);
• a duty to intervene if another officer uses excessive force;
• a duty to render medical aid if a person needs medical attention;
• recognition of, and appropriate responses to, substance use disorders and mental illnesses;
• mandated independent reviews for use-of-force incidents involving deaths, and
• disclosure of prior investigations into criminal, civil, or administrative wrongdoing prior to employment with a criminal justice agency.
“While this legislation did not go as far as I and others would have liked, I am pleased so many joined our call for action,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “If the difficult journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first single step, then this essential first step is a step of hope and progress for all the people of Florida.”
For more information, please contact Terry Chavez, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 or TerryGonzalez-Chavez@MiamiSAO.