Articles Posted in Miami-Dade County

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Police arrested two women on Monday at the Aventura Mall who are accused of trying to buy thousand of dollars’ worth of designer goods with stolen credit cards.

Aventura police said the women, 31 and 52, allegedly stole five credit cards from a Sunny Isles Beach woman. The 31-year-old is accused of using one of the cards around 4:30 p.m. on Monday to buy two pairs of sunglasses valued at $1,400 at the mall’s Bloomingdale’s store, police said.

Police said she left the store and joined the 52-year-old woman, who was waiting inside a car in the mall’s parking lot.

Officers said they were waiting for the pair as they tried to leave the mall, having been tipped off by an earlier attempt to use the stolen credit cards.

An hour earlier, officers said, the 31-year-old had attempted to buy a designer handbag for $4,800 at the mall’s Nordstrom store. When she used one of the stolen cards to pay, the transaction was declined, police said. She tried again with another card, which was also declined.

The failed purchase triggered an alert, and the credit card company contacted the victim, who in turn contacted the Aventura Police Department.

Aventura police said that the pair had planned to resell the items that they purchased with the stolen cards. Police said they found five credit cards belonging to the victim when they arrested the women.

The 31-year-old is currently being held on $82,000 bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. The 52-year-old was released on bond. According to court records, both women face multiple charges of credit card fraud and theft in addition to the Aventura Mall case.  

Fraud charges occur when someone uses deception to obtain money or other benefits from another person. In order for criminal charges to be filed, it  is not actually necessary that the person be successful in their attempt to defraud property.

Some examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Using a stolen credit card as your own
  • Knowingly reporting purchases you made as unauthorized purchases
  • Using stolen credit card information to apply for another credit card
  • Charging expenses to a credit card without the cardholder’s consent

If you have been charged with credit card fraud, our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can defend you and your rights. We will pursue the best possible outcome in any fraud case.

Contact us online or call us at 561-367-8777 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you. Your consultation is completely free and confidential.

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The Justice Department announced Wednesday it’s charging hundreds of individuals across the country with committing Medicare fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is the largest takedown in history, in regards to the number of people charged and the loss amount, according to the Justice Department.

The majority of the cases being prosecuted involve separate fraudulent billings to Medicare, Medicaid or both for treatments that were never provided.

In one case, a Detroit clinic that was actually found to be a front for a narcotics diversion scheme billed Medicare for more than $36 million, the Justice Department said.

The actual numbers:

  • $900 million in false billing
  • $38 million sent from Medicare and Medicaid to one clinic to carry out medically unnecessary treatments
  • $36 million billed to Medicare by a Detroit clinic that was actually a front for a narcotics diversion scheme
  • 1,000 law enforcement personnel involved
  • 301 defendants charged across the United States
  • 61 of those charged are medical professionals
  • 36 federal judicial districts involved
  • 28 of those charged are doctors

A doctor in Texas has been charged with participating in schemes to bill Medicare for “medically unnecessary home health services that were often not provided.”

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A former Miami-Dade County police director and mayor is facing a domestic violence-related charge following a fight with his longtime girlfriend.

A Coral Gables police report claims the man turned himself in Wednesday, and he was charged with battery.

The arrest report describes that the man’s girlfriend went to his home Saturday to return a cat, and the two began to argue. The woman told police that the man grabbed her by both arms and pinned her against a wall. The report accuses the man of yelling profanities at the woman and spitting at her.

Investigators said the woman’s injuries were consistent with her statement.

The woman and her teenage daughter told police a pattern of domestic violence had developed since 2013, according to reports.

If you have been accused of domestic violence, the best thing you can do to help your case is to get an attorney involved now. Time is of the essence when it comes to these cases. Prosecutors file charges very quickly in regards to domestic disputes, so it is important that an investigation is conducted as soon as possible so that the best defense strategy can be applied. Each case is unique and varies based on facts specific to the case. However, it is best to not delay in obtaining legal representation so that your chances of reducing the charges or obtaining a favorable outcome is not compromised.

It is impossible to predict what will happen with your case without knowing the facts. Punishment varies in each case and depends on whether there are any prior offenses, the extent of any injuries, whether there were any weapons involved, the conduct alleged, whether physical or verbal violence occurred, including making a criminal threat or stalking.

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Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen invested more than $20 million with a financial adviser he says had come highly recommended by the team who has just been sentenced to three years behind bars for fraud.

The 66-year-old former money advisor was convicted of a variety of fraud schemes that included forging Pippen’s signature on a $1.4 million loan that he used to pay off personal debts.

In his ruling, the judge found that the advisor had lied at trial about forging Pippen’s signature as well as by claiming he’d gotten the go-ahead to apply for a second loan in the name of another victim.

In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered the man to forfeit $2.7 million and pay an additional $1.5 million in restitution, including $400,000 directly to Pippen.

The man was convicted by a jury in 2014 of five counts of bank fraud. Prosecutors claim he illegally obtained a total of about $3 million in loans from Oak Brook-based Leaders Bank, which included the $1.4 million loan that he claimed Pippen needed to invest in a private jet. The man apparently instead spent most of the money for his own benefit, making mortgage payments and paying other investment clients, prosecutors said.

Bank fraud is a criminal offense defined as deliberately and knowingly carrying out a scheme to defraud a financial institution. Basically, bank fraud is the use of fraudulent means to obtain money, assets, or other property that is owned or in the control of a bank or other financial institution. Bank fraud can be committed in a variety of ways including the following:

  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Making false statements on loan applications
  • Falsifying documents
  • Forging checks
  • Loan fraud
  • Counterfeiting bank documents

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The new year is quickly approaching, and thousands of Floridians have made plans or are starting to think about how to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016.

But before you solidify your New Year’s Eve plans, fire officials have some tips for residents and visitors when it comes to fireworks.

“Anything that is projectile or leaves the ground is illegal in the State of Florida. Basically your safest bet is with a sparkler,” said Natalie McQueen, a Firefighter and Paramedic for the Panama City Beach Fire Department.

Even though sparklers are allowed in the Sunshine State, residents and visitors still need to exercise caution when using them.

Younger children should never light or handle sparklers. Parents should maintain a close watch on kids at all times if sparklers are going to be used. Burns are very common to the hands and face since sparklers do have flickers that come off once they are lit.

If you are using sparklers, after you are done with them, fire officials say to place them in a big bucket full of water, and let them sit overnight.

While setting off your own fireworks might seem fun, our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind everyone that the best way to stay safe while ringing in the New Year is leaving the fireworks to the pros. If you are caught with fireworks in the State of Florida it could lead to misdemeanor charges.

Under Florida law, the use of or possession of illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are accused of breaking this law, please be aware that you will be arrested. If you are convicted of this crime, you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, given up to one year on probation, and/or fined up to one thousand dollars.

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Thanksgiving is a time of year when families get together to celebrate memories and honor traditions. However, this is also the time of year when law enforcement agencies gear up to catch drunk drivers on our roadways.

Most law enforcement agencies, receive federal grants to increase their staffing levels during the holiday season, which typically begins with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and continues to New Year’s Day. Arrests for DUI are highest during this time period.

The following are a few tips that may prove helpful to avoid a Thanksgiving DUI:

  1. Do not drink and drive. If you have been drinking, call a cab, a friend or use a ride share app like Uber or Lyft to get home safe. If you know you will be drinking, designate a sober driver to take you home.
  2. If you are pulled over, do not talk to law enforcement about where you were or what you were doing. Remember, you have the right to remain silent until you have your lawyer present.
  3. If you are involved in an accident, stop immediately and remain at the scene. Do not admit to anything and request to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Do not fall asleep inside your vehicle. You could get arrested if the officer observes that you have the keys in the ignition or if the engine is running.
  5. Drive cautiously. Police will be closely monitoring motorists for any mistakes they make. In particular, they will be on the lookout for motorists who may be driving too fast or too slow, or running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs.

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The Justice Department announced new rules recently that would potentially make thousands of federal inmates eligible for presidential grants of clemency, including a requirement that candidates must have served at least 10 years of their sentences and have no history of violence.

The six conditions announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, ban inmates with ties to criminal gangs, organized crime groups and drug cartels, and are designed to broaden access to early release for non-violent offenders who were sentenced to long prison terms under mandatory minimum-sentencing policies.

Up to 13 percent of the federal prison system’s 216,000 inmates have served 10 years or more, but not all would qualify for consideration, based largely on their criminal histories.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Inmates whose sentences would be substantially lower if convicted of the same offenses today because of changes to the sentencing structure.
  • Inmates who have demonstrated good conduct in prison.
  • Inmates with no history of violence before or during their term of imprisonment.

“Let there be no mistake, this clemency initiative should not be understood to minimize the seriousness of our federal criminal law,” the deputy attorney general said. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement agents worked diligently and honorably to collect evidence and charge these defendants and then fairly and effectively obtained their convictions. … However, some of them, simply because of the operation of sentencing laws on the books at the time, received substantial sentences that are disproportionate to what they would receive today.”

Cole said most eligible applicants would probably be drug offenders, other offenders could qualify if they meet the new requirements, including so-called career criminals.

Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug offenders.

The commission estimated that 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for the change, and their sentences would decrease an average of 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 months to 51.

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A grow house was busted in Seminole County Tuesday and resulted in the arrests of five suspects from Miami.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office City-County Investigative Bureau reported that a deputy patrolling the 800 block of Winona Drive in Geneva smelled a very strong odor of marijuana coming from a home.

The CCIB obtained a search warrant and deputies allegedly found a large-scale marijuana grow operation with 49 mature plants and a large amount of harvested marijuana.

Investigators claim the majority of the plants averaged four feet in height and were located in the garage of the house and smaller plants were found in a bedroom.

Agents estimate the grow house had the potential to generate over $880,000 worth of marijuana annually, according to reports.

Five suspects from Miami were arrested and charged with trafficking over 25 pounds of marijuana.

All five suspects are being held without bond at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility.

Grow house cases usually involve large-scale operations, multiple suspects and can span across county and even state lines. If you are facing drug manufacturing or cultivation charges, you undoubtedly need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are strong advocates for those accused of both state and federal drug crimes. As former prosecutors, we know how to identify weaknesses in the state’s case and explain why those weaknesses require a dismissal or at least a reduction in the charges.

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An affordable housing contractor accused of stealing millions of dollars in kickbacks to four Miami-based developers pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing federal government subsidies intended to help the poor.

The 57-year-old owner of a South Florida based construction company, faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing this fall after reaching a plea deal on a theft conspiracy charge with the U.S. attorney’s office.

The man was charged with paying about $6.2 million in kickbacks to various founders and CEOs of different housing groups.

297924038_e957335351_zAccording to records filed in Miami federal court, they all allegedly cut a “side agreement” to inflate the construction costs of low-income apartment projects in Miami-Dade County to qualify for bigger government subsidies and then pocketed the “excess” profits.

The man accused allegedly made $1.3 million off the illicit scheme, according to prosecutors.

This man is the second builder to plead guilty in the alleged fraud conspiracy.

Last month, a 63-year-old founder of another construction company pleaded guilty to the same theft conspiracy charge, stemming from paying more than $1 million in kickbacks to other groups, according to records.

Federal conspiracy charges are nothing to joke about. When the federal government has invested the time, money and resources into indicting you on a federal charge, it is guaranteed that they will pursue your case in court quite aggressively. A charge like conspiracy carries significant sentencing and long-term consequences, so it is important that you seek the best legal representation so that your case can be handled accordingly.

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Miami Beach Police arrested Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, 26, after they claim he shot his gun into the air early Saturday morning.

He was charged with discharging a firearm in public around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

A parking attendant told police that he saw a black Porsche Panamera with two men and two women inside. According to the arrest report, the two men got out of the Porsche and approached a white vehicle with several women inside.

15264159251_bb125ef477_zThe attendant told police that the discussion soon became hostile and that he then spotted Quarless walk up to the white car with a semi-automatic handgun. The witness then told police that Quarless pointed the gun in the air and fired off two rounds before taking off in the Porsche.

Police put out a “be on the lookout,” or BOLO, alert for the Porsche and eventually caught up with the vehicle parked on the 400 block of Washington Avenue with its lights on.

According to the report, Quarless was allegedly discovered nearby, “attempting to conceal himself and the black firearm in a nearby plant.”

A spokesman for the Green Bay Packers issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment.”

Discharging a firearm in public can lead to significant penalties, including prison time if convicted. If you have been arrested for discharging a firearm in public, you should immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney so that you can learn about your rights and the viable defenses that may be available to you.

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