Pedro Bravo indicted for murder and kidnapping in disappearance of Christian Aguilar

On Tuesday, as more charges were brought against his son’s accused killer, Carlos Aguilar kept searching.
It had been 19 days since Christian Aguilar disappeared somewhere in Gainesville. More than two weeks had passed since police arrested the accused killer, a former high school friend of Christian Aguilar’s from Doral Academy Preparatory School.
Then came Tuesday, when a grand jury reaffirmed the murder charge against Pedro Bravo and added another — kidnapping.
But Christian Aguilar’s body was still missing.
Hours after hearing the grand jury’s decision announced, Carlos Aguilar returned to another patch of woods to search, again. The added charge did not deliver what he needed most.
“I haven’t found my son. What I’m looking for is to find my son, so I can get everything ready with my family,” Carlos Aguilar said. “That’s what I really need.”

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Death penalty for shooter in South Beach kidnap, rape, murder

Joel Lebron deserves to die for kidnapping, raping and executing a popular South Miami High teen, a jury decided Friday.
By a vote of 9-3, jurors recommended execution for Lebron, who last week as convicted of the slaying of Ana Maria Angel in April 2002.
The jury deliberated two hours. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas will ultimately deliver the final sentence.
Lebron, 34, was one of five Orlando men who kidnapped Angel and her boyfriend as the couple finished a South Beach moonlight stroll. After robbing them, the men gang raped Angel in the back of their truck, then slit her boyfriend’s throat, leaving him for dead alongside Interstate 95 in Broward County.
Alongside the interstate in Palm Beach County, Lebron and another man marched Angel down an embankment, into the brush near a sound barrier wall. Lebron shot Angel in the back of the head as she begged for her life, her hands clasped in prayer

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Two South Florida doctors sent to prison for 10 years in major Medicare scam

Two South Florida doctors convicted of conspiring to defraud Medicare through the nation’s largest mental-health racket were each sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday.
A federal jury in June convicted psychiatrists Mark Willner, 56, of Weston and Alberto Ayala, 68, of Coral Gables, the medical directors for American Therapeutic Corp., for their roles in a $205 million scheme to fleece the taxpayer-funded program for the elderly and disabled.
The 12-person jury found them not guilty on other healthcare fraud offenses.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz gave the two doctors the maximum prison sentence for their cruicial roles in the criminal conspiracy, and then ordered Willner to pay $57 million and Ayala $87 million to Medicare.
Justice Department prosecutors said the doctors prescribed $120 million worth of fraudulent psychotherapy sessions at ATC’s chain of clinics in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Willner and Ayala were paid $641,000 and $536,000, respectively, for their services, according to trial evidence.
Since Miami-based ATC’s chain was shuttered two years ago, 35 defendants have been charged in the case with the majority pleading guilty. The ringleader, business owner Lawrence Duran, received a 50-year prison sentence — the stiffest punishment ever for a Medicare fraud offender.

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Check casher pleads guilty to laundering stolen Medicare millions that wound up in Cuba’s banks

A Cuban immigrant who laundered millions of dirty Medicare dollars through his Florida check-cashing store into Cuba’s state-controlled banking system has agreed to help federal investigators catch other suspects in the unprecedented case being prosecuted in Miami.
Oscar L. Sánchez, who recently pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to launder profits from Medicare fraud, agreed to “cooperate fully” with the U.S. attorney’s office in hopes of reducing a potential prison sentence of at least nine years, according to his plea agreement.
The agreement offers no details about his criminal activity because of its highly sensitive nature: Sánchez’s case marks the first prosecution of a defendant accused of laundering taxpayer-funded Medicare proceeds into Cuba’s national bank.

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Judge rejects plea deal for former model in hit-and-run that killed UM student on LSD

Former model Valentina Hubsch came to court thinking she had a plea deal allowing her to avoid jail time for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in the death of a 21-year-old University of Miami student.
But after hearing tearful statements Thursday from the family of the victim, Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat rejected the plea offered by the state. Hubsch and her attorney were taken by surprise.  “I feel like we were ambushed,” said defense attorney Albert Levin. “The facts remain the facts, and my client’s role in this tragedy will not change.  The victim’s role in the accident was not in question. On Nov. 13, 2010, Paul Jones was running through traffic on Red Road near 45th Street. Friends say he had taken LSD.
Police received multiple 911 calls of a disoriented man “in the middle of the road trying to get people to run him over,” according to a report from the state prosecutor.  Hubsch was driving north on Red Road in her silver Sonata just after dark.   She hit something, “so sudden and so frightening that I don’t know exactly what happened,” she told police later. She briefly pulled over, but stayed in her car, then continued to her home. She didn’t call 911.
The following day, she contacted Coral Gables Police through her lawyer to turn herself in. Both went to the station, but no investigator was present at the time. Hubsch returned the following day to give her statement. She was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, which carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 21 months in jail. She was not taken into custody.
Jones died from his injuries 10 days later

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NFL veteran pleads guilty to tax-related fraud charges in Miami

William Joseph, a University of Miami defensive tackle who played in the NFL for much of the past decade, pleaded guilty to tax-related fraud charges in federal court Friday.
Joseph and others — including former Oakland Raider teammate, running back Michael Bennett — are accused of cashing dozens of fraudulently obtained tax-refund checks and seeking a loan with fake collateral. Their take totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to court records.
Joseph, 32, of Miramar, pleaded guilty to theft of government money and aggravated identity theft, the latter of which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence. His sentencing was set for Nov. 9 before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams.

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Man With Face Tattoos Claims Misidentification

Adriana Johnson clearly remembers the January afternoon six years ago when she watched her father scuffle with a young man on a Liberty City street. She remembers the teen skirt down a side street, return with an AK-47 rifle and unleash a flurry of bullets. The memories, on Tuesday, were crisp:
Her mother bleeding from the leg, screaming that she had been shot.
The homicide detectives investigating the murders of her parents presenting her with a photo lineup. The instant recognition. The killer sported two distinctive tattoos inked on each cheek.
“Crosses. On each side of his face,” Adriana, now 16, told jurors Tuesday, on the opening day of the murder trial for Benito “Bo” Santiago.
The suspect’s conspicuous crucifix tattoos lay at the heart of the prosecution’s case against Santiago, 23, charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said that Adriana and another witness identified Santiago, whom they knew from around the neighborhood, as the man who killed Grace Armstrong, 27, and Adrian Johnson, 28.
The second witness, prosecutor Kathleen Cortes told jurors, knew Santiago well — she had allowed him to sleep at her home from time to time.
But defense attorney Alan Greenstein said prosecutors have no physical evidence linking Santiago to the crime and eyewitness testimony is unreliable. The second witness, Patricia Wilcher, never housed Santiago in the months preceding the shooting because the teen was living in New York at the time, Greenstein said.
“She’s got the wrong man,” Greenstein told jurors.

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