Articles Posted in Miami-Dade County

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On Tuesday the FBI arrested Miami Springs Police Sgt. Andres Quintanilla, a 16-year veteran of the force, on a federal corruption charge.

The 33-year-old was charged with “attempting to affect commerce by extortion under color of official right,’’ according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the federal complaint, a confidential FBI source claims he told Quintanilla in September 2014 that he was a drug trafficker. The complaint goes on to allege that instead of arresting the source, Quintanilla “offered to help the [informant’s] drug trafficking business.’’

Quintanilla allegedly provided the location of an undercover police narcotics office, gave the source the names of three Miami-Dade police officers and ran the name of a purported drug dealer in a law enforcement database when asked to do so by the source, according to the complaint.

3413984703_683eb24000_z (1)The complaint states that by December 2014, Quintanilla had agreed to act as an escort during a purported 10 kilogram cocaine deal. Quintanilla is also accused of choosing a safe location in Miami Springs where the source could exchange 10 kilograms of cocaine for $250,000.

After the alleged deal took place, Quintanilla then apparently followed the source while wearing his uniform and driving his MSPD marked vehicle to an express package service center, where Quintanilla was under the impression that the source would ship the $250,000 of drug proceeds to New York, according to the complaint.

In exchange for his assistance, Quintanilla allegedly accepted $3,500 in bribe payments from the source.

In a press release issued Tuesday night, the Miami Springs Police Chief stated, “As a result of the charges filed against Quintanilla, he has now been relieved of duty without pay pending the results of the criminal case in the U.S. federal court.”

If convicted, Quintanilla, who started with the Springs police department as a public service aide in 1999 when he was 17, faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Federal corruption charges usually refer to any illegal activity conducted by public officials. Public officials, politicians, as well as the business executives who regularly deal with them are all at risk of being investigated for or charged with violations of federal corruption. Taking bribes, facilitating a crime by another and threatening punishment if certain services are not provided are all examples of actions that could result in a charge of corruption. Extortion and bribery are common charges that fall under the category of federal corruption.

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Loretta E. Lynch was announced as the new U.S. attorney general Thursday, with the Senate voting 56 to 43 to confirm the veteran New York prosecutor five months after President Obama submitted her nomination to Congress.

According to the Justice Department, Lynch is expected to be sworn in as the nation’s 83rd attorney general Monday.

Obama released a statement saying that “America will be better off” with Lynch in charge of the Justice Department. “She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform,” he said.

14721716270_a99439f1b9_zLynch is the first African American woman to be nominated for the post, which has taken on a much higher profile than in the past due to the leading role the Justice Department has recently played in the debate over race and policing across the country.

The time Lynch had to wait between nomination and confirmation was the longest for an attorney general nominee in 31 years. With it all said and done, the confirmation vote margin was wider than expected: Ten Republicans joined the Senate’s 44 Democrats and two independents in supporting Lynch. Forty-three senators, all Republicans, were opposed.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stepping down after more than six years, said Lynch would be “an outstanding attorney general, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”

Obama called the slow and final vote to confirm Lynch as “embarrassing” last week.

Obama nominated Lynch, 55, in November to replace Holder. The Senate, then under Democratic control, did not act on the nomination. Rather, they chose to spend time in the lame-duck session on judicial appointments that party leaders believed would stall in a Republican-controlled Senate.

The thinking was that a Republican Senate would not take its time in confirming a replacement for Holder, a frequent target of Republican enmity. However, that was not the case, especially after Lynch became involved in a deep partisan rift over Obama’s immigration policy.

During questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee in late January, Lynch said she believed Obama’s executive actions on immigration last year passed legal and constitutional muster, angering Republicans who considered them an overreach.

Republicans reactions to this was that Lynch was publicly committed to denigrating Congress, and that they could expect to see a great abuse of power by her.

After the January hearing, it took nearly a month for the panel to advance Lynch’s nomination, and then the nomination became caught up in an unrelated political dispute over a bill to combat sex trafficking.

Last week President Obama released this statement: “It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job.”

On Thursday, senators voted on final confirmation around 2 p.m.

The Senate voted 56–43 in favor of Lynch, approving her with help of 10 Republican senators, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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Federal prosecutors charged 27 South Florida suspects Tuesday with marriage fraud, including organizers, recruiters and unlawful immigrants, according to reports.

4107766083_66d44a53c4_zThe main defendants — two Hialeah men ages 50 and 57 and a 50-year-old Hialeah and a 33-year-old Marathon man— are accused of charging a fee to arrange fraudulent marriages between U.S. citizens and undocumented aliens.

The trio allegedly notarized phony marriage licenses, completed necessary immigration paperwork and prepared the participants for their interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to police.

They are accused of arranging the fraudulent marriages between 2011 and 2014, and during that time two of the men also allegedly attempted to obtain naturalization illegally, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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A Penn State University associate sociology professor was arrested during a flight from Nicaragua to Miami on Saturday. Her onboard speech about U.S.-Venezuela relations apparently got her pulled off a flight in Miami.

Authorities claim that the 52-year-old, who lives outside Philadelphia, is facing disorderly conduct and breach of peace charges for going on a rant and lighting a cigarette during the flight.

2500519580_7c31e5dd69_zA passenger apparently caught the alleged rant on video. Police said it shows the woman lighting a cigarette and blaming it on another passenger. Flight attendants requested that police meet the flight in Miami, where the woman was taken into custody.

The woman wrote an email after she returned to Pennsylvania that alleges she was mistreated. She says all she did was speak out against U.S. treatment of Venezuela.

Disorderly conduct is classified as engaging in conduct that caused a disturbance by being unreasonably:

  • Violent
  • Loud
  • Abusive
  • Obscene
  • Boisterous

The problem with disorderly conduct charges is that they are so broadly written they give police officers much room for interpretation. It’s up to the officer who arrives at the scene to assess whether or not behavior should be defined as disorderly. If they do believe disorderly conduct is occurring, or has occurred, police have the authority to make an arrest in any public or private place, which includes an airplane.

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Police arrested a 56-year-old Miami flight attendant for American Airlines after his vehicle was parked for several days at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The man’s yellow Ford Crown Victoria had expired Florida plates and a sag in the rear, which police believed were explosives.

However, police did not fight explosives in the man’s car. Instead, they claim they uncovered stolen UNICEF coins.

4689386920_53225ac585_zPolice believe the man stole coins donated by international passengers to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s charity and a longtime partner of American Airlines.

The man is accused of failing to deliver the donations to UNICEF. Police allege the man stored the coins in plastic bags and suitcases in the trunk of his 2006 Crown Vic, which caused it to sag under the weight of 700 pounds in Euro coins and other foreign currency.

The U.S. value of the coins totals about $5,000, according to Port Authority police.

The man apparently admitted to the theft in interviews with detectives. He was arrested on Jan. 31 and booked on felony charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

The man posted $100,000 bail the next day. He is due back in court on March 24.

In the state of Florida, grand theft, also known as grand larceny, is defined as the unlawful taking of any property that amounts to more than $300 in worth. Crimes of grand theft can be charged as first, second or even third degree felonies depending on the severity of the activity.

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A 29-year-old former crew member for Holland America Line was sentenced to 30 years and five months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for the attack and attempted murder of a female passenger last year, according to the US Department of Justice.

the man is an Indonesian citizen and according to FBI agents, admitted to entering the woman’s stateroom using his company-issued master key, and hiding on the balcony waiting for her to return.

The man said that before the attack, while delivering room service, the woman disrespected him and his parents by referring to him as a “son of a b____.”

The victim, a 32-year-old American woman, was assaulted by the man while on a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise.

492037987_de1234b5e0_zFBI agents said the man attacked the woman after she got into bed, choking and punching her numerous times. The man struck the woman with a laptop and curling iron, and tried to strangle her with a telephone cord and a curling iron cord. The victim was said to be unconscious at least once during the attack, at which time the man sexually assaulted her.

The man continued to attack the woman on the state room’s balcony where he tried to throw her overboard.

The woman was able to escape after stabbing the man with a corkscrew, according to the report.

According to Holland America Line, the man was immediately fired.

The company said the man was hired in 2012 after a careful screening that included a clean criminal history check. He apparently had good references and no prior performance issues.

The man did plead guilty to the attack in September. He will be deported after serving out his sentence.

People who are charged with sex crimes can expect to have their lives changed forever, as they will be subjected to invasive investigations and questioning by police. The media can also be quite intrusive once they catch wind of a sex crimes case. Because of this, it is always a good idea for a person to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable attorney when arrested for or charged with a sex crime.

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A Massachusetts Uber driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had used the ride-sharing service app to request a ride.

Authorities have reported that the 46-year-old man was arraigned Wednesday in Cambridge District Court. The Boston man pleaded not guilty to charges including rape and kidnapping.

Investigators believe the driver picked the woman up in Boston on Dec. 6. She had apparently summoned an Uber driver to take her to her Cambridge home.

14656314348_f3aa8acb78_zUber customers use a smartphone application to arrange and pay for rides with drivers that are in the surrounding area.

The woman told police that the driver told her he would need a cash payment, so he took her to an ATM.

Authorities claim he then drove her to a secluded location and sexually assaulted her.

Uber released a statement saying that they are working closely with law enforcement to assist in the investigation.

Sex crimes allegations are very serious crimes that will have a devastating impact on your future if you were to be convicted. Your career, your family, your freedom and your reputation could all be ruined and suffer permanent damage just from the mere accusation that any wrongdoing took place. Because of this, you must obtain legal protection against the prosecution.

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A South Florida man has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars in state unemployment insurance.

A federal judge also ordered the 24-year-old Miami man to pay more than $60,000 in restitution last week.

Earlier this year, the man pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and other charges.

2204277278_cbf43f4146_zAccording to court records, the man used computers at his home to access 188 fraudulent unemployment claims. He apparently was able to obtain payments on 23 of those claims for a total of $60,400.

The money was deposited into various bank accounts controlled by the man.

Bank cameras apparently recorded the man taking money out of those accounts.

Florida state law provides for strict rules and procedures when it comes to an individual’s ability to obtain unemployment benefits. What this also means is that state prosecutors are quick to jump the gun when they suspect someone is taking advantage of the system. Because prosecutors are prompt when it come to pressing criminal charges the outcomes can often result in  false allegations, improper charges and poorly run investigations.

If you are accused of unemployment fraud, a Miami-Dade County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help mitigate the damage. If convicted of unemployment fraud, you may be subject to jail time and be required to repay benefits obtained under false pretenses. Our criminal lawyers can put our skills to work for you and aggressively fight to keep you out of jail or possibly keep you free of a criminal record at all.

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According to the most recent FBI Crime report, Florida is home to some pretty dangerous cities. The top 20 cities that were found to have the most violent crimes and property crimes are as follows:


  • Miami Beach, Florida5196788334_e6ed189c68_m


With a population of 91,066, the total reported crimes were found to be 109.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.33 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 99.14 per 1,000 residents.


  • Orlando, Florida


With a population size of 246,513, the total reported crimes in Orlando were assessed at 78.19 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.34 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 67.85 per 1,000 residents.


  • Daytona Beach, Florida


Daytona Beach has a population of 61,861, and 74.10 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.56 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.54 per 1,000 residents.


  • Panama City, Florida


Panama City’s reported population is 37,187, with a total number of reported crimes at 70.27 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.80 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.47 per 1,000 residents.


  • Key West, Florida


With a smaller population of 25,249, Key West has a total of 69.47 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.24 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 61.23 per 1,000 residents.


  • Homestead, Florida


Homestead has a reported total population of 62,785, with a total number of crimes at 67.87 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 16.64 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 51.22 per 1,000 residents.


  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida


With a population of 170,827, the total reported crimes in Fort Lauderdale were determined at 67.92 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 58.80 per 1,000 residents.


  • Pensacola, Florida


Pensacola’s population size is 52,909. The total reported crimes are 69.86 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 60.75 per 1,000 residents.


  • Fort Pierce, Florida


The total population for Fort Pierce is 42,566 and the number of reported crimes ranks in at 65.95 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.14 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.81 per 1,000 residents.


  • Miami, Florida


With a larger population size of 414,327, Miami has a total reported crimes of 65.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.72 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 53.75 per 1,000 residents.


  • Pompano Beach, Florida


The total population size in Pompano Beach is 103,003. The total reported crimes in the area are 64.29 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.29 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.00 per 1,000 residents.


  • Sarasota, Florida


Population size in Sarasota totals 53,055 with the total reported crimes at 63.14 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.03 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 55.11 per 1,000 residents.


  • Riviera Beach, Florida


Riviera Beach has a total population of 33,309 and the total reported crimes are 61.97 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 13.21 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.76 per 1,000 residents.


  • Lake Worth, Florida


Lake Worth has a population size of 35,788 and the total reported crimes are 61.17 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 12.88 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.28 per 1,000 residents.


  • West Palm Beach, Florida


The population size is 102,422 and total crime ranks in at 60.78 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.02 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.76 per 1,000 residents.


  • Oakland Park, Florida


Oakland Park’s population is 42,071, with the total reported crimes at 60.75 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.85 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.90 per 1,000 residents.


  • Ocala, Florida


The population in Ocala is reported at 57,288. The total reported crimes for the area is 60.61 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 6.55 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.06 per 1,000 residents.


  • Sanford, Florida


Sanford has a population of 54,662. The total number of reported crimes for the area is 60.13 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 5.91 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.22 per 1,000 residents.


  • Lauderdale Lakes, Florida


The population is 33,644 and the total reported crime is 59.80 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.99 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 49.82 per 1,000 residents.


  • Leesburg, Florida


Leesburg’s total reported crime is 60.05 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.19 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 50.85 per 1,000 residents.

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to understand exactly what is at stake. How you respond to your charges will have a direct impact on how your case plays out, including your freedom and your future. During this critical time, everything you say and do, along with every decision you make can be the difference between imprisonment and you being free to move forward with your life.

Have you been arrested for a crime in Florida? You must act fast to protect your good name even if you have not had formal charges filed against you yet. A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you with your case no matter what you have been arrested for or charged with. We will fully investigate the facts of your case and aggressively defend you in court or in seeking a settlement.

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Former Saturday Night Live funnyman Chris Kattan received his sentence six months after he was arrested on suspicion of a DUI.

The 43-year-old comedian is required to pay a $500 fine, attend a three-month alcohol program, 104 Narcotics Anonymous classes, and will be on probation for the next three years, according to reports. Moreover, he is banned from driving with any drugs in his system, unless he has a valid prescription, and has been ordered to participate in the Hospital and Morgue Program, which is designed to show people the potential tragic consequences of their reckless behavior.

The Night at the Roxbury star was arrested in mid-February early in the morning after he crashed his Mercedes into a Department of Transportation vehicle that was parked on the side of a Los Angeles freeway doing maintenance work. While no one was injured in the accident, Kattan did fail a field sobriety test and was arrested and booked into the Van Nuys jail. He was released a short time later on a $15,000 bond.

7th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball - Red CarpetSince receiving his sentence, Kattan has not commented on the incident.

The case is not completely settled just yet. Next month, a restitution hearing will be held to determine how much money Kattan owes the state for damage to the truck he hit.

DUI charges for driving under the influence of drugs are usually treated just the same as DUI charges stemming from alcohol use. There is one difference between the two, which is how police measure impairment. For an alcohol-related DUI, police usually measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration using a Breathalyzer device or blood test and then compare the results to the legal limit, 0.08 percent. For a drug-related DUI, the methods law enforcement uses to determine impairment is much more subjective.

Police commonly rely on observations made during field sobriety tests, which allows an officer to observe a suspected DUI driver’s attention level, state of mind, balance, physical ability and other factors that the officer then will use to decide whether the suspect is impaired. While the presence of drugs can be found using blood tests, the existence of drugs in a person’s blood stream may not solely be an indicator that a person was driving under the influence of the substance.

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