Wilfredo A. Ferrer is a busy man. As the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, he oversees an office that’s won scores of high profile cases and succeeded in sending lots of criminals up for some serious prison time. If I were stupid enough to commit a federal crime, I’d tremble just hearing Ferrer’s name.
Here we are only eleven days into March, and the U.S. Attorney has already issued press releases on eight major cases. That’s in addition to the 69 he issued in January and February. So far in March, the diverse felonies for which Ferrer is seeking justice include tax, election and identity fraud, as well as a child pornography case and an armed bank robbery.
This month’s list of federal crimes begins with the conviction of thirty-eight year old Jeaneno Florent of North Miami for wire fraud, who is now awaiting sentencing. Florent filed a false tax return claiming that he earned $8.7 million dollars while working at Capital Records, Inc. and was “entitled to a refund of approximately $613,000.00.” The defendant was investigated by the IRS, the Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspector, who discovered that he did not work for Capital Records, and he is now being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger, who managed to squeeze a guilty plea from him. This was not the first time Florent committed tax fraud. He is also answering to charges of a similar crime in 2013, both of which have “resulted in the submission of approximately $2.4 million in fraudulent refund claims,” according to a press release issued on March 4, 2014. Florent could go to prison for a maximum of 20 years. Taxpayers, as usual, get screwed.
The next day, March 5, 2014, Wilfredo A. Ferrer’s office issued a press release announcing the conviction of Herve Wilmore, Jr. of Aventura and Delvin Jean Baptiste of Miramar, both twenty-nine years old, along with twelve other co-defendants from Hollywood, Miami Gardens, Miami, Plantation, Pembroke Pines and Tamarac, all but one of whom previously pled guilty during the trial of stolen identity tax fraud schemes. One defendant’s indictment was dismissed. Wilmore and Baptiste are facing sentences of up to 20 years each. Dudes, nice try, but no cigar.
March 5, 2014 was also the date that twenty-eight year old Daniel Jonathan Gast of Plantation was indicted on charges of child pornography. According to the press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are reminded that “an indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty,” even though the music teacher’s laptop had “over 95 video files of child pornography, much involving children under the age of 12.” If convicted, Gast faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, where we all know what tends to happen to perverts who commit sexual crimes against children. There are some things so despicable that even hardened convicted criminals can’t stomach.
On March 6, 2014, the U.S. Attorney issued a press release to announce that thirty-two year old Tenisha Nkesha Francis of Lake Worth and twenty-seven year old Ryan Michael Francis of Riviera Beach pled guilty of aggravated identity theft charges. Tenisha opened fake bank accounts at TD Bank, where she worked, with stolen identification provided by Ryan, deposited stolen U.S. Treasury checks into those accounts and then withdrew the funds using debit cards and checks payable to related third parties for a total amount of between $120K and $200K. Both defendants face up to a maximum of 10 years of three-hots-and-a-cot each.
Wilfredo A. Ferrer issued two press releases on March 7, 2014 for two unrelated cases involving violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. It was a busy day for campaign finance fraud.
The first one announced “the filing of charges” against fifty-two year old Russell S. Adler of Fort Lauderdale, who is “presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty” of allegedly “enlisting” employees of his law firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, P.A., to “make political contributions” in excess of the maximum amount allowed by campaign finance laws. The law firm then reimbursed those employees for their generous “donations.” The announcement in this press release only adds to the already high profile case of the scandal-plagued Rothstein firm’s “$1.2 billion Ponzi Scheme.” Adler is now “the seventh attorney and seventeenth accomplice to be held accountable” in that particular scheme. What was probably “a good idea at the time” didn’t quite work out as planned.
The second case involving a Federal Election Campaign Act violation, which is quite penny-ante compared to the first, involves the indictment of forty-four year old Ana Alliegro of Nicaragua. The defendant was arrested in her home country and brought here to face charges involving illegal campaign contributions in connection with the Democratic Party’s primary election for the 26th Congressional District of Florida. This press release again reminds us that “an indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.” So noted.
Today’s press releases issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office both involve crimes regarding tax preparation. Oh, those wild and crazy accountants!
Forty year old Carlos Rodriguez of Miami Lakes was sentenced to 22 months in prison for “evading currency transaction requirements” of the tax code by cashing checks for amounts just under the $10,000 limit, preparing fraudulent tax returns for its clients, and purchasing properties with the unreported funds. The press release states that “the amount of money involved in the structuring violations was between $400,000 and $1 million.”
In the second press release issued today, twenty-eight year old Dianelys Armengol Guevara of Pembroke Pines and Dallas, Texas, pled guilty for violating a January, 2011 “court order forbidding her from acting as a tax preparer.” Apparently, the lure of being a tax preparer was too hard to resist. After “willfully disobeying that judgement,” Dianalys was busted by the IRS for preparing approximately 130 tax returns despite being court ordered to cease and desist impersonating an accountant. I’m not sure what a possible sentence would include, but I hope the charade was worth it.
Wilfredo A. Ferrer’s office saved the best for last. Although not yet posted on the website, the latest press release I received via email is entitled One Hallandale Resident and Two Palm Beach Residents Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for Robbing Treasure Coast PNC Banks at Gunpoint.
In Bonnie & Clyde-like fashion, two women and a man were sentenced today for two armed robberies brainstormed by the three of them and five other men, three of whom are scheduled to stand trial on May 19, 2014. Twenty-three year old Raven Simone Sayers of Hallandale and twenty-two year old Tomaleesha Jeffie Laqua McKeliver of West Palm Beach were sentenced to 162 months in prison each, while twenty-two year old “career criminal” Ivory Lee Robinson, III, was handed a 262 month stint for armed robbery. Their ingenious plan was to form two teams, each of which was “to have a female as a getaway driver and three males. Sayers and McKeliver agreed to be the robbery getaway drivers. Each team would steal a van, rob each of the banks at gunpoint, with their faces covered, leave the bank in the van, and transfer into the getaway vehicles, in order to flee the area.” As brilliant as they must have believed themselves to be, “law enforcement eventually identified, and arrested” all of them.
With the exception of the alleged child pornographer, whose alleged crime is just unspeakable, I can’t help but oddly appreciate the ingenuity of the other defendants indicted and convicted by the US District Attorney’s office this month. Had they not been outsmarted and outwitted by law enforcement, their combined adventures in creative thinking might have netted them a total of at least $3 million or more in ill-gotten gains. Imagine what they could have accomplished if they had used their brainpower for good instead of evil. Alas, they chose a life of crime.
And we all know that most of the time crime does not pay.
Especially when the bad guys come up against The Criminal Whisperer, United States District Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer.
Now if only some of that mojo could rub off on our State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle …
Oh, wait. Never mind.
I’d have better luck wishing for a unicorn.
“Spreading the Wealth”