Category: News

State Attorney Katherine Rundle Shares Civil Citation Programs with PACT

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.

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State Attorney Fernandez Rundle Commemorates Teacher Appreciation Week

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle applauds the wonderful teachers who go above and beyond for their students.

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press release

For Immediate Release: State Attorney Fernandez Rundle Statement on Michael Hernandez

Logo: Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office

“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

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press release

For Immediate Release: Police Reform Bill (HB 7051) Passes Unanimously Out of the Florida Legislature

Photo: State Attorney Headshot
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle

Click here for the PDF version of this release.

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;
• de-escalation;
• 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.

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Investigation Report: Johnathan Nathaniel Hall

On April 20, 2021, an investigative report was signed by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in the officer involved shooting case involving Johnathan Nathaniel Hall.

Johnathan Nathaniel Hall Investigation Report

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press release

For Immediate Release: Four Charged in Money Transfer Scam Walmart Victimized for over $360,000

Click here for PDF version of release.

Miami (April 23, 2021) – Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez announce the arrests of four individuals involved in financial thefts via the fraudulent transfer of money using Walmart’s wire transfer services.

Charged today are 31-year-old Emmanuel Alexis, 31-year-old Jahson Rayon Linton, 30-year- old Michelle Denise Gilyard and 26-year-old Vitnelson Saint Fleur. All four individuals are being charged with 1 count of the 1st Degree felonies of Organized Scheme to Defraud and Conspiracy to Commit an Organized Scheme to Defraud. Alexis and Gilyard are also being charged with 1 count of the 1st Degree Felony of Grand Theft. Saint Fleur and Linton are being charged with 1 count of the 2nd Degree Felony of Grand Theft.

“Today’s sophisticated scammers are always probing to find ways to grab the cash of every business and every consumer,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Gaining the assistance of a trusted employee always makes the criminal’s job easier. It takes the work of skillful investigators to unravel their strategies and bring these individuals to justice. Miami-Dade County and Walmart are fortunate that there are such dedicated individuals working both in-house at Walmart and in the Miami-Dade Police Department.”

Walmart stores offer their customers a money transfer service that allows customers at any Walmart store in the United States to send money to an individual at any other Walmart facility in the country with sufficient
identification. Walmart contracts with MoneyGram and RIA, two independent money transfer services, to process these transactions. In late 2018, the Global Investigations Branch of Walmart uncovered a number of fraudulent schemes linked to money transfer activity. The thieves used falsified caller identification (called “spoofing”) so that calls made to Walmart money transfer employees appeared to be coming from the Walmart “Home Office”, “NCR” (Walmart’s computer repair vendor), or “MoneyGram”. With this veneer of authority, the caller would
request “system tests” money transfers to be made, which they claimed they would then cancel on their end. The transfers, never canceled, allowed fraudsters to subsequently retrieve the money.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department worked closely with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to bring this fraud organization to justice. Our Economic Crimes Bureau investigators are driven professionals that will not rest until cases are solved,” commented Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III.

As the “spoofed” telephone calls began to be recognized by Walmart, a way was found to identify the fraud and cancel those transfers.

This led to a new approach by fraudsters allegedly utilizing Walmart employees as key players who would find ways of overriding the canceled transfers. Michelle Denise Gilyard, an employee working at a North Miami Beach store, and Vitnelson Saint Fleur, an employee working at a Palm Springs store, were allegedly paid per transaction by Emmanuel Alexis and/or Jahson Rayon Linton to provide refunds on money transfer transactions that were often already flagged as fraudulent.

Both Gilyard and Saint Fleur allegedly verified the existence of the suspended transactions, processed them, and then paid the monies to their accomplices. For their alleged participation, both Gilyard and Saint Fleur were paid $200.00 or $300.00 cash per each transaction. Gilyard allegedly processed a total of 130 fraudulent refund transactions amounting to $283,587.47 between June 29, 2018 and January 24, 2019. Saint Fleur allegedly processed a total of 36 fraudulent refunds totaling $79,664.32 between September 8, 2018 and January 1, 2019.

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For more information, please contact Ed Griffith, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 and EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com.

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WPLG 10: Two officers arrested for allegedly falsifying traffic tickets in Hialeah

Photo: Hialeah Cops Arrested
Hialeah Officers Armando Perez, right, and Ernesto Arias-Martinez, left, surrendered to law enforcement on Wednesday in Miami-Dade County. (MDPD)

“When police officers create false traffic tickets, as we are alleging happened here, they damage the reputation of their own department and the reputations of every police officer working to serve our Miami-Dade community,”

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle Tweet

 Who is Martcello Strovanov? Officer Ernesto Arias-Martinez reported Strovanov, who was born on Aug. 23, 1969, was driving a 2014 Ford truck with Florida tag 352TJX in Hialeah, records show.

Aurelio Echevarria, the registered owner of the truck, told officers he didn’t know Strovanov. According to Detective Paulina Whitney, Arias-Martinez issued Strovanov five citations on Feb. 21, 2020.

After an investigation stemming from similar incongruencies in traffic cases, Whitney reported the truck exists, but Strovanov doesn’t. Arias-Martinez is accused of writing fiction.

“There are no identities under that name.”

According to Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez, two of his officers, Arias-Martinez and Armando Perez, who both serve as traffic motormen in Hialeah, surrendered on Wednesday.

Arias-Martinez, 23, and Perez, 40, are facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade County for allegedly writing false tickets, according to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle,

Fernandez Rundle released a statement saying the police department deserves credit for working diligently to uncover and correct the actions.

This story was written by Andrea Torres courtesy of Local 10 (WPLG).

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press release

For Immediate Release: Two Hialeah Police Traffic Motormen Charged

Click here for the PDF version of this release.

Miami (April 21, 2021) – Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez announce the charging of Hialeah Police Officers Armando Perez and Ernesto Arias-Martinez with Official Misconduct and Falsifying Public Records for allegedly writing false tickets and submitting those tickets as evidence of traffic violations. Armando Perez has served 5 years with the Hialeah Police Department and Ernesto Arias-Martinez is a 3 1/2-year member of the department. The victims of the alleged false tickets received multiple traffic citations without ever having knowledge of having committed a traffic violation.

“Honesty and integrity must always be central values of every effective police agency,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “When police officers create false traffic tickets, as we are alleging happened here, they damage the reputation of their own department and the reputations of every police officer working to serve our Miami-Dade community. In the case of Hialeah Officers Perez and Arias-Martinez, we are alleging that their actions were not errors or mistakes, but crimes. The Hialeah Police Department deserves credit for working diligently to uncover and correct the actions of these two officers.”

One victim “officially” received 18 citations on February 13, 2020, and then received 6 others the following day, all allegedly without his knowledge or without his ever having received a tangible citation. The victim recalled being stopped by Hialeah motorcycle officers, being asked for his vehicle’s documents, and then being told he would receive a citation in the mail. No actual traffic citation allegedly ever appeared. Mail solicitations for legal representation in traffic court led to the victim’s discovery of the situation and he contacted the Hialeah Police Department.

An audit was conducted of the officers’ activities from January 1, 2020, to June 8, 2020. During the audit, 8 additional alleged victims were discovered with similar patterns of citation activity being indicated. In some cases, false names were allegedly used in writing the “official” citations combined with actual information taken from the targeted vehicle drivers.

Armando Perez has been charged with:
• 5 counts of Official Misconduct – 3rd Degree Felony
• 5 counts of Falsifying Public Records – 1st Degree Misdemeanor
Ernesto Arias-Martinez has been charged with:
• 4 counts of Official Misconduct – 3rd Degree Felony
• 4 counts of Falsifying Public Records – 1st Degree Misdemeanor
For media availability, please call the Office of the State Attorney at 305-547-0535.###

For more information, contact Ed Griffith, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 and EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com.

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press release

For Immediate Response: State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s Statement on Derek Chauvin Verdict

Click for the PDF version of this release.

Miami – (April 20, 2021) – “What Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd, was not only a cold-blooded murder, but also a horrific dereliction of his duties, a dishonor to the men and women who have committed to serve and protect humanity, and an affront to communities throughout the
country.

Today justice was served. We thank the jurors for their service, and we also thank the police professionals for their testimony and for standing up for good and just policing against Chauvin’s criminal activities. My team and I feel blessed and honored to be prosecutors and to see our colleagues vigorously pursue justice professionally and masterfully.

As a nation, we now can begin healing, building trust, transforming policing and improving police-community relations across this nation. We now can also renew our focus on vigorously promoting racial equality generally. Our collective mission now must be for all of us, community members, police, social and criminal justice professionals and lawmakers, business, and government to be united in this all-important goal at this critical moment of
history in our country.

Though it is an emotional day for everyone as the jury has come to a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, my plea to our community is that lawful and constitutionally protected actions should be carried out peacefully so as to honor the memory of George Floyd as we move forward in addressing serious policing issues and advancements.”
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle

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For futher information, contact Ed Griffith, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 and EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com.

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Virtual Courtroom Directory Provides Public Access to Court Proceedings

Photo: Florida Courts Administration


The Florida Supreme Court has launched its Virtual Courtroom Directory allowing online public access to court proceedings.  The online directory offers an easy way to find and view hearings and trials, both recorded and live-streamed, throughout the state. 

https://courtrooms.flcourts.org/

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