Famous Matisse Painting Turns up in Miami Beach

Pedro Antonio Marcuello and María Elisa Ornelas, the two people accused of trying to sell a stolen Matisse painting in South Beach, were formally charged Wednesday morning in federal court.
Marcuello, a native of Cuba, and Ornelas, from Mexico, tried to sell  Odalisque in Red Pants by Henri Matisse to undercover FBI agents on July 17 at the Miami Beach Loews Hotel. According to the arrest affidavit, both knew that the painting was stolen.
Marcuello, who according to his lawyer works as a driver for a home for the elderly, and Ornelas, who according to reports is a real estate agent in Acapulco, were formally charged with possession, transportation and attempting to sell a stolen object.
Both entered not-guilty pleas.
The painting, whose commercial value is around $3 million, was stolen from the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas in 2002 and replaced with a forgery. It disappeared for 10 years, until Marcuello tried to sell it in Miami Beach last month.
According to the FBI, the painting was in Mexico City, and Ornelas brought it to South Florida a day before Marcuello attempted the sale.
Marcuello and Ornelas face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The date for their next hearing hasn’t been determined yet.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/01/2925188/suspects-in-stolen-museum-painting.html#storylink=cpy
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Giving Attorney's A Bad Name

A Miami immigration attorney is being accused of submitting fraudulent information to help six foreign nationals in Southwest Florida get permanent residence, according to a report by  naplesnews.com.
Karen Caco has been indicted on visa fraud and conspiracy charges. She operated International Immigration Services PA in Naples.
Caco is accused of forging letters and submitting fraudulent lease agreements and financial information. According to the report, Caco was arrested Tuesday and released on $50,000 bond. The charges carry a 10-year sentence in federal prison if she is convicted.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/01/2925704/south-florida-immigration-attorney.html#storylink=cpy
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FBI: Miami police sergeant planted, stole drugs and money, lied about it

Federal authorities on Thursday indicted a Miami police sergeant on charges alleging that he planted cocaine on a suspect, stole drugs and money from dealers, and lied to federal investigators.

Raul Iglesias is expected to surrender and appear before a federal judge on Friday.

Iglesias, 40, was indicted on nine counts that include violating suspects’ civil rights, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, obstruction of justice and making false statements, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.

An 18-year Miami police veteran, Iglesias ran the Central District’s Crime Suppression unit, which targeted drug traffickers. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/19/2902720/fbi-indicts-miami-police-sergeant.html#storylink=cpy
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$7.3 million worth of cocaine seized at Port of Miami

Seven-point-three million dollars worth of cocaine will not make it to the streets of South Florida or anywhere else after the illegal contraband was found at the Port of Miami.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port discovered the cocaine, about 459 pounds, hidden in a container on May 29. There were 169 bricks of cocaine hidden in eight cardboard boxes.

The container arrived in Miami aboard a freighter from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and originated in Panama. The ship also made stops in Colombia and Mexico.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/13/2848173/73-million-worth-of-cocaine-seized.html#storylink=cpy
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Miami Beach fire inspector pleads guilty in federal club-extortion racket case

Chai Footman made six figures as a fire inspector for the city of Miami Beach. But apparently, his $116,000 salary was not enough.

On Friday, Footman admitted to a Miami federal judge that he shook down a South Beach nightclub owner for thousands of dollars in exchange for kid-glove treatment during code inspections.

Footman, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiring with a ring of code enforcement officers and a fellow firefighter to extort the owner of Club Dolce on Ocean Drive — in a sensational case where an undercover FBI agent posing as the club manager fooled them all as he partied with Footman and the other municipal employees.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/08/2839082/miami-beach-fire-inspector-pleads.html#storylink=cpy
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Feds indict 16 in Miami-Dade marijuana growhouse operation, 5 charged with kidnapping death

For years, the Santiesteban family ran an elaborate marijuana growing operation — from planting seeds under hydroponic lights to harvesting the potent plants and hauling them to New York to sell — with at least 17 grow houses scattered across Miami-Dade, federal prosecutors said.

They set up surveillance cameras, hired caretakers to guard their crops, and when family members identified a robber who had ripped off 30 plants, they helped kidnap him, prosecutors said. The man was shot and beaten to death, his body dumped on a roadway, his van torched in the Everglades.

On Tuesday, law enforcement agents finally shut down the massive operation — charging six family members and 10 others with conspiracy to distribute drugs — ending one of the largest marijuana enterprises in Miami-Dade.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/06/2836510/feds-indict-16-in-miami-dade-marijuana.html#storylink=cpy
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Coconut Grove man, once accused in slaying of teacher, beats felonies again

A Coconut Grove man who beat five separate murder trials — four of them for the 1996 robbery-slaying of a Miami school teacher — prevailed again at trial on Wednesday.

Then he went on the lam.

Alphonso Gainer, accused of leading police on a dangerous high-speed car chase through Coconut Grove in December 2010, was acquitted of felonies charges. He was, however, convicted of one misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence.

But Gainer never heard the verdict. As jurors deliberated, Gainer — who was free on bail —left the courthouse and vanished.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/02/2780093/coconut-grove-once-accused-in.html#storylink=cpy

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Feds bust three ex-NFL players on ID-theft and tax-related fraud charges

Three former National Football League players have been arrested by the FBI on federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to steal people’s identities and file false tax returns in others’ names, according to authorities.

The three ex-NFL players charged with defrauding the federal government and ID theft are: William Joseph, a University of Miami defensive tackle drafted in the first round by the New York Giants in 2003; Michael Bennett, a University of Wisconsin running back also drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2001; and Louis Gachelin, a Syracuse University defensive tackle who was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2004.

Joseph and Gachelin are Miami natives; Bennett was born in Milwaukee. All three were questioned after their arrests Monday by FBI agents at the bureau’s North Miami Beach regional office. They were then transferred to the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami for court appearances Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube, according to the clerk’s office. Details of the alleged scheme are expected to be disclosed in a criminal complaint to be released later Tuesday.

FBI spokesman Mike Leverock declined to comment.

As part of a related investigation, the FBI also arrested about a half-dozen other defendants Monday.

Authorities say the latest tax-related fraud case, while unique because of the ex-NFL defendants, is yet another indication of escalating identity-theft crimes in South Florida.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/30/2777317/feds-bust-three-ex-nfl-players.html#storylink=cpy

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