Eye on Miami Saturday Editorial Page. By Geniusofdespair
21 minutes ago
Giglio v. United States, United States Supreme Court held that the prosecution's failure to inform the jury that a witness had been promised not to be prosecuted in exchange for his testimony was a failure to fulfill the duty to present all material evidence to the jury, and constituted a violation of due process, requiring a new trial. This is the case even if the failure to disclose was a matter of negligence and not intent. The case extended the Court's holding in Brady v. Maryland, requiring such agreements to be disclosed to defense counsel. As a result of this case, the term Giglio material is sometimes used to refer to any information pertaining to deals that witnesses in a criminal case may have entered into with the government., was a case in which theThere's that pesky due process stuff again! Once again we find ourselves at the mercy of the state hoping they'll take the high road and disclose all "deals that witnesses in a criminal case may have entered into with the government" to defense counsel. It only makes sense, doesn't it?
Havana-born Perez ran a jewelery and pawn shop business, and promised investors returns of anywhere from 18 to 120 percent a year through monthly payment.There's a sucker born every minute, isn't there? Who could possibly believe that some two bit jeweler could provide a 120% return on an investment? Like many many other Ponzi schemers of the last decade, Mr. Perez's house of cards came falling down during the economic down turn when he was no longer able to recruit new investors. Read the SEC's press release and complaint against Mr. Perez here.
Investors thought they were investing in two of Perez's companies, Lucky Star Diamonds Inc. and Luis Felipe Jewelry Design Corp. (neither had employees other than Perez), and that their money was collateralized by diamonds. In fact, Perez said he kept diamonds in deposit safes, however they turned out to be fake.
“Luis Perez is a nice young man,” Entin said. “He had a jewelry business and borrowed money from people who were loan sharks to get the business moving, couldn’t keep up with the payments to the loan sharks, started borrowing more money and before he knew it he was in the middle of a Ponzi.”
“I can tell you that my client is still cooperating,” Entin said. “There are other subjects and targets of governmental interest out there. My client has provided some very useful information and I think the government is proceeding on it.”
Words cannot describe how we feel about this incident where two heroes were gunned down and murdered while in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the slain officers. Thank you officers Castillo and Haworth for making the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep our streets safe.
'Our worst nightmare': Two officers shot deadBY DAVID OVALLE, KATHLEEN McGRORY AND ADAM BEASLEY
Hunting a violent career criminal wanted for murder, Miami-Dade police detectives knocked on the door of a Liberty City duplex Thursday morning. The man's mother let them in. But Johnny Simms, a tattooed thug fresh off his most recent prison stint, refused to face justice, jumping out from another room with his pistol blazing at point-blank range.
Police bullets felled the fugitive -- but not before he shot and killed veteran detectives Roger Castillo, 41, and Amanda Haworth, 44.
The career criminal's bloody last stand rocked South Florida's law enforcement community, which has counted six other officers killed in the line of duty in the past five years.
``I know I'm supposed to say we're all children of God and that things happen,'' said an angry and tearful Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus. ``But that guy is evil. He murdered two of my people today.''
The shooting was the first double police murder in South Florida since Miami-Dade detectives Richard Boles and David Strzalkowski were gunned down at a trailer park in 1988, and the first time a female officer was shot to death on the job in Miami-Dade.
Detective Deidre Beecher survived the ambush with a minor knee injury. Detective Oscar Plasencia emerged unscathed, shooting Simms dead just outside the front door of the duplex.
The shock of the bloodletting melted into a heart-wrenching memorial hours later, as somber officers began honoring Castillo and Haworth, who boasted a combined 44 years of police experience. Both their flag-draped bodies were escorted in Fire-Rescue ambulances from the Ryder Trauma Center to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office, a block away.
A chaplain and police Honor Guard accompanied Castillo's body to the morgue. For Haworth, against the glow of red-and-blue police lights, dozens of officers on motorcycles and foot formed a neat procession -- black bands over their badges -- to accompany the ambulance, led by an officer carrying a folded flag.
Castillo, a 21-year veteran, was married to a fellow officer, Debbie. The Davie couple had three boys, ages 9, 11 and 14. Haworth, with 23 years on the force, was the single mother of a 13-year-old son she was raising in Miramar.
Both officers were part of a fugitive task working with the U.S. Marshal's Service. They had targeted Simms, who had been on the lam from Miami police since he was named in a murder warrant for the slaying of an Overtown man in October.
According to interviews with law enforcement officials, and police and court records, Simms had been in trouble since he was a teen. Officers first arrested him at 14, for larceny. In all, Simms was arrested 11 times before he was an adult on charges including burglary and auto theft, state records show. He received house arrest in some cases, while others were dropped.
His tattoos mirrored his lifestyle: a gun, flames, and the words ``savage'' and ``10-20 Life.''
In October 2005 and December 2005, Simms was arrested for separate armed robberies, one with a pistol and the second with a rifle. Prosecutors did not file charges in either case.
In 2007, Simms -- who also goes by ``Sims'' -- went to state prison for a different 2005 armed robbery and auto theft. He was released in February 2009 on probation.
Simms violated his probation when he was again arrested in June 2010, this time for robbery with a deadly weapon and selling cocaine. He pleaded guilty and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez sentenced him to one year in prison plus five years' probation.
But Simms served only one month because he had earned credit for time served earlier in a Miami-Dade jail. He was released in September 2010 on five years of court-mandated ``administrative probation,'' a low-level form of supervision that does not require regular check-ins with authorities.
Simms hadn't been out a month before he was again implicated in a violent act.
According to Miami homicide detectives, Simms shot and killed Cornelious Larry, 27, on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of an Overtown apartment complex, 1535 NW First Pl.
Miami police say Simms shot Larry to death after the man began yelling and cursing at Simms' sister. Simms fled on a bicycle. Detectives searched for him for 12 days before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward signed an arrest warrant. The charges: first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Simms had been on the lam since.
Miami police last week spotted him driving a rented car in Allapattah, according to law enforcement sources. He bailed out of the car, which was traced back to his family.
Detectives had been in touch with his relatives, trying to get him to turn himself in.
Tipsters had placed Simms in several houses in Liberty City. Miami homicide detectives turned to the county police warrants bureau, which has a squad specially trained to arrest fugitive career criminals, Loftus said. He said the assignment was routine.
``These are warrants people,'' he said. ``They do this everyday. They have an elevated level of expertise.''
Miami police Cmdr. Delrish Moss, a spokesman, agreed: ``It's not unusual for us to be assisted by county warrants in arresting the most dangerous criminals. The criminals we're dealing with don't see the difference between the uniforms or jurisdiction -- they just see cops.''
Castillo's and Haworth's squad, wearing body armor labeled ``Police,'' were dispatched to a duplex at 6112 NW Sixth Ct., in a gritty section of Liberty City just west of Interstate 95.
To get to the front door, detectives needed to walk down a narrow pathway bordered by a wire fence on one side and the duplex on the other.
Simms' mother lived at the home with some of his siblings. Sources familiar with the investigation said the detectives knocked on the door, and Simms' mother let them inside.
Just inside the living room, investigators believe, Simms jumped out of another room, firing his gun.
Haworth was shot in the head inside the home. Beecher was not hit. Castillo was shot dead just outside, in the walkway.
Plasencia, who had been behind the duplex, ran back around and -- under fire -- shot Simms dead in front of the door.
Witnesses said they heard three or four gunshots. ``It was like `Pow, pow, pow, pow,' '' said T'Shai Bey, who was at an auto body shop beside the building. ``I could see smoke. I thought it was fireworks.''
Bey walked over to the duplex and peered through the wire fence. It was partially blocked by plywood, she said. In the yard: two bodies pointing in different directions.
``Women were screaming. Babies were crying,'' Bey said. ``A lady came running out of the house asking for a cellphone. She kept saying ``I don't want my son to die. I don't want my son to die.' ''
Emergency calls immediately went out. Ambulance crews rushed to the scene, followed by detectives and top police brass from Miami and Miami-Dade, as well as elected officials.
``Unfortunately, no matter how well prepared you are, when there's a person who's willing to give their lives, they're going to have the advantage,'' said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, former director of the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Paramedics pronounced Castillo and Simms dead on the scene. Their bodies were covered in plastic sheets as news helicopters hovered overhead.
Haworth was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial, where she was pronounced dead at about 1 p.m. Miami-Dade homicide detectives whisked away Simms' relatives to interview them; it was not immediately clear if they could face charges in connection with the shooting, or with his time as a fugitive.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez announced the tragedy to the stunned audience at a commission meeting. Condolences -- from Gov. Rick Scott, police union boss John Rivera, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and others -- poured in.
Loftus, a longtime Miami-Dade cop and first-year director, fought back tears as he explained that he hoped to serve out his tenure without attending another police funeral.
``The fact of the matter is, our worst nightmare was visited upon us again,'' he said.
That should be enough to make your stomach turn. You decide to speak out against elected official and express your discontent with their actions, you go one step further and get involved in a recall campaign and now you get rewarded for your actions by getting harassed by investigators? Investigators going to recall campaign volunteers homes, then running background checks on them and questioning them? Demanding they produce ID? What the fuck is that? Considering the type of harassment these volunteers are receiving, what are the chances that anyone will ever mount a campaign like this again only to have the wrath of powerful career politicians come down on them? This is sickening and should have everyone who reads about it mad enough to spit nails. Who would have thought we'd see this type of Gestapo like behavior in this day and age here in the United States? This is pathetic.
Alvarez, Seijas in fight for survivalBY MATTHEW HAGGMAN AND MARTHA BRANNIGAN
mhaggman@MiamiHerald.comCarmen Carrigan said the private investigator showed up unannounced at her Westchester home on a Saturday afternoon, identified himself as Al Lopez and stayed for an hour asking how she and her husband, Rigoberto, had collected signatures to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. ``He asked us who interviewed us, who taught us to collect the signatures, how we filled the forms,'' Carrigan told The Miami Herald. ``We said, `Everyone really wanted to sign, because they don't want Alvarez.' ''
The investigator told Carrigan he had been hired by some sort of committee -- perhaps a political action committee. ``I'm not sure why he was there,'' Carrigan said. ``To scare us?''
With the recall elections for Mayor Alvarez and County Commissioner Natacha Seijas set for March 15, both politicians are employing private investigators, lawyers and political consultants in a bare-knuckles fight for survival.
Underlining the urgency: early voting begins Feb. 28, just six weeks away.
Last month Alvarez's political action committee, Citizens For Truth, hired private investigative firm Sessler & Lopez. The PAC paid the firm $5,000 on Dec. 17 and another $5,000 on Dec. 22, according to year-end financial disclosures. Seijas has hired ICDA Investigations, run by former county homicide detective Raul Diaz, to probe into the backgrounds of recall-petition gatherers, known as circulators, in search of evidence that may help discredit the petitions they were involved with.
Diaz has done a lot of private investigative work over the years for the county, and previously worked for Seijas. Seijas' PAC, Abre Los Brazos, paid Diaz's firm $5,000 on Dec. 22, according to the latest filings.
Stephen Cody, an attorney for Seijas, said the private investigations firm is doing background checks on those whom he will depose in her pending lawsuit, but hasn't interviewed petition circulators.
``It's not like I'm having people knocking on doors and saying give us the dirt,'' said Cody.
Alvarez's private investigator, Al Lopez, declined to comment. Said Alvarez's attorney, Bruce Rogow: ``The task was to get a handle on how the circulators were operating, if the circulators were willing to talk about it.''
The recall defenses for Alvarez and Seijas are moving on two tracks: legal efforts aimed at avoiding an election altogether, and political campaigning to sway voters. For support, each politician is relying on a mix that includes companies doing business with the county, county lobbyists, county unions and county employees themselves.
Seijas is waging a legal fight to have her election blocked, while Alvarez is scrutinizing petitions for a potential second legal challenge.
Both are seeking to bolster their campaign war chests.
Alvarez, a career cop who led a successful campaign to revise the county charter to become the first strong mayor, has assembled $261,600 in contributions and in-kind donations to beat back Miami billionaire Norman Braman's campaign to oust him.
The car dealer, an outspoken critic of local government, launched his drive after the county commission approved the mayor's proposed budget, which raised the property-tax rate while giving raises to most county employees.
According to the latest filing by his PAC, Alvarez continues to draw much of his support from county employee unions. The Transport Workers Union donated $20,000 on Dec. 27. The Dade Police Police Benevolent Association PAC previously wrote a check for $50,000. Lobbyist Ron Book contributed $10,000.
The mayor's PAC has received more than $70,000 from the Florida Marlins and its contractors. That strong support came two years after Alvarez pushed to spend public dollars to build a new stadium for the ball club.
For his part, Braman has assembled a war chest of $521,112 in his PAC, People Who Want Honest Government. The majority comes from his own pocket. Developer and art collector Martin Z. Margulies has contributed $25,000 and Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson has pitched in $1,000.
Meanwhile, Seijas' PAC has garnered $92,750, with big chunks coming from lobbyists and unions representing county employees. The Service Employees International Union gave $20,000 and the county police union anted up $10,000.
Overseeing fundraising for the PAC is her longtime campaign treasurer, Daniel Hernandez, a local businessman who is president of the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Seijas, whose district includes Miami Lakes and Hialeah, knows the recall drill as well as anyone: She decisively defeated an earlier campaign to drive her from office in December 2006, winning 65 percent of the ballots cast.
Her opponents, meanwhile, have raised just $16,041 for Miami Voice, a political action committee headed by Vanessa Brito. That includes $5,000 from Braman and $5,000 from Brito's marketing firm Myami Marketing.
But while they lack money, those seeking Seijas' ouster have backing from vocal Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, a lawyer who is providing free legal counsel. And they can ride on the coattails of the Braman campaign.
With the election date set, Braman said he plans to unveil the next phase of his campaign this coming week. While laying out his argument for Alvarez's recall, Braman said, he will advocate for broader governance changes such as term limits and at-large county commission seats. ``I don't want to be perceived as someone who is just negative,'' Braman said.
Braman has hired pollster Dario Moreno to take the pulse of the community. As of year-end, Moreno received $8,000 from Braman's PAC.
Braman spent $1,733 on private investigative firm Wayne Black & Associates. His attorney, Stanley Krieger, said the private investigator spent ``a couple hours'' following up on calls from former county employees who contacted Braman's office.
``We did not investigate anyone,'' Krieger said.
Alvarez, whose second term expires in November 2012, is betting on showing residents that his budget, which raised widespread anger, was a responsible proposal that preserves core services.
``It's my hope that reality trumps rhetoric and substance beats out style,'' Alvarez said in a statement released Thursday, when the recall election date was set.
But he hasn't given up on derailing the recall through the courts. His team, led by political consultant Ivy Korman, has been meeting at a Doral warehouse in recent weeks and scrutinizing recall petitions for flaws. The warehouse is owned by Ralph Gazitua, an Alvarez supporter and father of mayoral aide Luis Andres Gazitua.
Alvarez has spent more than $20,000 on nearly 40 people, including Ryan Burgess, who is the son of County Manager George Burgess, to review the petitions.
``The game is still on,'' said Rogow, Alvarez's attorney, who withdrew an initial lawsuit challenging the recall in December.
Both the mayor and Seijas have hired Korman, a former county elections official.
The mayor has also worked to mobilize support from county employees. In recent months, when staffers log on to their county computers, they have sometimes been met with upbeat messages about the controversial budget, which triggered the recall drive after it was adopted last fall by commissioners.
While facing voters on the same ballot as Alvarez would by all accounts be challenging, Seijas has a strong power base to draw from and a long track record of prevailing in political confrontations.
However, an important supporter of hers in fending off the 2006 recall said he will not help Seijas this time around.
``I will not be involved this year,'' said Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, who recently announced a run for county mayor. ``In 2006, I thought it was a personal vendetta against her and it was wrong. This is different. This is based on a policy difference and I am against raising taxes.''
But Seijas' primary aim is to keep from appearing on a recall ballot at all.
At an emotionally charged commission meeting Jan. 13, Seijas argued unsuccessfully that commissioners should postpone setting her election recall date at least until the next commission meeting Jan. 20. She said she wanted time for a judge to hear her legal challenge on Jan. 18. There is little likelihood, however, a decision will be reached so soon.
Seijas, who also has veteran litigator Kendall Coffey on her team, filed suit to block her recall election, claiming that many of the petitions submitted were flawed, and when those are discounted there would not be enough signatures left to warrant a recall.
``I expect a just resolution and favorable conclusion to this process,'' said Seijas in a statement issued Saturday. She added: ``A district campaign to urge residents to say no to a recall of their commissioner will occur if necessary. I am always prepared.''
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Martin Luther King, April 16, 1963
"Sometimes you're in a game you don't even know you're playing. Teele may have been uncouth or in question, but so many others only get a slap on the wrist while we [African-Americans] always get the rough end of the mop."
Open file discovery is promoted in the United States as a means to help equalize the investigatory disparity between the prosecution and the defense attorney.  Under open file discovery, a defendant should have access to the prosecutor's entire file and there should never be any surprises at trial.At least in my opinion as a lay person, this seems like the way things should be, it only makes sense. Consider that the person charged with the crime doesn't have the resources to research the case as well as the state, it's hard enough paying for a lawyer let alone a private investigator. Then you have to consider the fact that the current system in the state of Florida only obligates the prosecutor to turn over whatever they think is necessary therefore creating a perfect opportunity for a prosecutor or police to withhold evidence. Think about it, if you were the prosecutor or a cop and you had something in your possession that would exonerate the defendant, how inclined would you be to turn it over to the defense knowing your case will get blown out of the water? Granted under the Brady Rule a moral and ethical prosecutor is obligated to hand over such evidence, but we live in an imperfect world, that's hardly the case.
Open file discovery is also the only means by which the state can guarantee due process to defendants. It also eliminates the need for prosecutors to evaluate whether evidence is both material and exculpatory under the Brady Rule.
Disclosure must not only be complete, it must also be timely. Disclosure must be completed well in advance of trial so that the defense attorney has time to examine the evidence, test it, and prepare an adequate defense.
Transcribe tape of Xxxxx, etc at attys. office.That certainly doesn't sound Kosher does it? Obviously I've omitted the name that was listed, regardless, why would you need to transcribe a tape of some people at an attorneys office? That in and of itself doesn't sound that bad, it's the next line that threw me back in my seat...
Need transcriptions: Xxxx Xxxxxxxx body wire at attorneys office.If there was any confusion about the first statement about a "tape...at attys. office" then this certainly clears it up since there is no way to misinterpret "body wire at attorneys office." Now that we've established that someone was wearing a body wire at an attorneys office, we have to ask, who the hell authored this document that was in the case file that I accidentally stumbled upon and why in the FCUK would they need a transcript of a wire that recorded the conversation between a client(s) and their attorney?
"Florida prosecutor in trouble for taping clients conversation with an attorney"YIKES! Didn't we talk about something similar to this a while back? You remember right? Something about a prosecutor getting someone that they scared shitless into wearing a body wire to record their conversations with their attorney? The example that we discussed back in August was a purely hypothetical one wasn't it or did an unscrupulous prosecutor actually get a person he was threatening to charge with a slew of crimes to wear a "body wire" to record conversations he was having with his attorney? We'll just have to wait and see if this really did happen.
South Florida's still a national leader in mortgage fraudSouth Florida's mortgage market had the nation's highest number of suspicious activity reports in the third quarter of 2010, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network's third-quarter mortgage fraud report released Thursday. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties logged 3,039 reports of questionable mortgage loan activity between July and September, about 33 per day, and more than any other metropolitan area in the nation. Florida's 5,404 suspicious activity reports, or SARs, during that time period ranked it second in the nation, behind California. On a per capita basis, Florida ranks ahead of California.
Miami-Dade County had the lion's share of South Florida's fraud reports, with 1,784 in the third quarter, second only to Los Angeles County, which had 1,967.
Jonathan Heller, a Miami defense lawyer defending a client who he believes was a victim of mortgage fraud, said he is not surprised by South Florida's ranking.
``When you have mortgage brokers who are unsavory, who are fueled by irresponsible lenders, it's like the perfect storm,'' he said.
Nationwide, there were 16,693 suspicious activity reports in the third quarter of 2010, up 2 percent from the same period in 2009. Florida was responsible for 32.3 percent of the nation's mortgage loan fraud reports that quarter, the report found.
The top types of mortgage fraud reported were false statements, debt elimination scams, identity theft and money laundering.
Most reports of mortgage loan fraud occur more than two years after the original loan was made. Of Miami-Dade's 1,784 reports logged in the third quarter of last year, only 404 involved loans made after Jan. 1, 2008.
That is consistent with the national trend, as those reporting fraud are focusing more on older incidents.
In the third quarter, 76 percent of SARs occurred before 2008, compared to 54 percent in 2009.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said Thursday he believes he and a city commissioner are under surveillance by the city's police department, taking the battle between the mayor and the police chief to a new level.And just when you thought the streets were safe, our local state attorneys office files charges against another cop with a penchant for fraud. It most be something in the water down here...
Regalado and Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II -- the two most outspoken critics of Chief Miguel Exposito -- said they had been told by ``credible'' law enforcement sources that Miami police officers have been tailing them. Twice in the past two weeks, Regalado said, he has noticed cars in front of his home that he didn't recognize, but which left as soon as he opened the front door.
``I just feel very threatened,'' Regalado said. The mayor said he's been warned by officers loyal to him in the police department that he was being followed, though he would not identify them.
Anonymous said...Now that's interesting allegation. The cops submitted real information for the loans and the brokers were the ones that falsified all the information on the applications? Some how I didn't pick up on that till this morning, what if that really was the case? What if the cops were actually submitting accurate information to the mortgage brokers who then turned around and adulterated the applications without the applicants knowledge? What I still can't comprehend is that according to this comment, the loans were paid for several years then the properties were sold, if that's true then there wasn't a default either, so where's the crime? Considering how rampant mortgage fraud was during the real estate boom, aren't there better cases to prosecute than this one? If the cops that were charged never submitted false information to the banks and it was the mortgage brokers who did, what exactly were the cops guilty of then?
Very simple case. The cops and others bought homes fixed them up and sold them. The cops submitted real info, the brokers forged documents on these loans and hundreds of others. The Governent was made aware of the fraud commited against the cops and many others they ignored the eviedence and targeted the cops. End of story, look at the other loans you will find the same thing. People who commit mortgage fraud don't fix up the homes and make mortgage payments for several years, and then sell the homes at losses. They run away with money! Someone please do a real investigation, maybe a reporter, as the FDLE has clearly not.
July 19, 2010 11:08 PM