Articles Posted in Crimes on Land

Fraud and related scams cost Americans around $1.6 billion dollars last year. In 2013, there were in excess of two millions reported cases of fraud. Fraud is also common in Florida. Per the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), Florida leads the nation with around 1,000 total complaints per 100,000 people.

Recently, detectives of the Economic Crimes Unit arrested a travel agent, Janet Bender, for seven counts of grand theft. She allegedly sold fraudulent cruise vouchers to customers. Said customers first reported the fraudulent activity in March of 2016. The customers bought their vouchers for a cruise with a stateroom. They paid between $200 and $500 for each voucher. Bender’s customers were requested to pay for the fraudulent vouchers with cash or checks. The customers would then attempt to use their vouchers only to discover that Bender never scheduled their vacations.  Bender was arrested at her home and charged with seven counts of grand theft. To date, detectives have identified more than nine victims.

If you, or a loved one, are a victim of a crime in Florida, or on a cruise ship, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney for your case. The Miami lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have the experience and skill needed for your case. Contact our attorneys today at 305-371-6000 or via email at to schedule a FREE consultation.  

When a lawsuit is filed for injuries that stem from a slip and fall, there are certain things that a personal injury lawyer expects to be questioned. Was the defendant negligent? How severely is the client injured and how do we show those injuries to a jury? But every now and then a personal injury case involves a question that you just can’t anticipate.

Fall Occurs on Broward College Campus

In a recent case, a victim slipped and fell on a substance in an elevator at Broward College (BC)(formerly Broward Community College). She sued BC for negligence, alleging that BC knew or in the exercise or ordinary and due care, should have known, of the existence of the substance.

MIAMI, FL—A $3 million verdict was rendered against Miami-based Discover Day Care Inc. in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a child at the day care facility in 2008, NBC Miami reported. The lawsuit claimed the sexual abuse occurred after a teacher at the Miami day care facility placed her then-13-year-old son in charge of supervising the children during her lunch break.

According to information provided, the alleged child sexual assault victim—who was only five years old at the time of the alleged attack—testified that the teacher’s son sexually abused her during “nap time.” The sexual abuse lawsuit—which initially sought $25 million in damages on behalf of the victim and her family—claimed negligence on the part of Discover Day Care Inc. on the basis that the children were not under adult supervision when the illicit sexual encounter allegedly occurred.

The teacher’s now-17-year-old son was initially charged with sexual abuse, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to counseling. While the jury was not aware of the said outcome of the criminal case as the civil trial was underway, three of the teen’s court-appointed therapists testified that the teen did indeed confess to inappropriately touching the young girl. According to one of the counselors, “He admits to touching her vagina.”

A defense attorney on the case told reporters he would file a motion for a new trial.

About the Miami injury attorneys and negligent security/premises liability lawyers of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A.
When accidents and crimes take place on someone else’s property, that someone needs to take responsibility. Too often, property owners and managers deny their responsibility. At shopping centers, hotels, apartments and condominiums, and all public events, people have a legal right to be reasonably safe from foreseeable harm and criminal victimization.

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MIAMI, FL—Three South Florida men are facing criminal charges in connection with the recent sexual assault of an expectant mother at one of Johnson & Wales University’s off-campus student housing units in North Miami. According to information provided by NBC Miami, officials from the North Miami Police Department (NMPD) arrested two of the rape suspects on Dec. 27 and the third on Dec. 29.

The victim (who happens to be married and eight months pregnant) appeared to have been under the impression that she was going to be participating in a photo shoot at 21-year-old Ligunson Edmond’s off-campus home when she was brutally raped. The Johnson & Wales University off-campus housing unit where Edmund lives is apparently located at 1735 NE 124th St. in North Miami.

Reports noted that the rape victim responded to a Craigslist ad titled “Lady’s South Florida” prior to the alleged sexual assault. It was not clear what the online ad entailed.

Nevertheless, North Miami Police arrested both Edmund and 21-year-old Jacques Davis Jean two days before managing to apprehend the third suspect, 24-year-old Kevin McNair. While Miami-Dade Corrections records indicate McNair is facing two counts of sexual assault with a deadly weapon causing serious injury in the college rape case, the extent of “sexual battery charges” being faced by Edmund and Jean was not clear. The case is underway.

Termed the “silent epidemic,” the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) estimated that as many as 95 percent of on-campus sexual assaults go unreported. Shockingly, statistics provided by the Justice Department indicate that approximately 1 out of 4 women will be sexually assaulted or raped during their college careers.

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MIAMI, FL—The U.S. Justice Department announced on Dec. 20 that a former prison guard at the Miami-based Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) had indeed pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a ward. Ex-Miami prison employee Jack Chris Jackson, 45, engaged in illicit sexual relations with an inmate under his watch and is facing up to 15 years in prison in connection with his sex crimes.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida was quoted saying, “This correction officer abused his official position. This conduct is an intolerable breach of trust that not only endangers the safety of inmates but also compromises prison security. Our office will prosecute all official corruption cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to information provided by NBC Miami, authorities stated that Jackson confessed to engaging in both an illicit sexual relationship with a male prison inmate for over a year and illegal sex acts with additional inmates at the low-security prison, located in southwest Miami-Dade.

“We will not tolerate corrections officers engaging in this behavior with institutionalized persons… The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute individuals who abuse their position and authority in this manner,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, maintained.

Jackson, whom was arrested following both an FBI investigation and a probe by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, will be sentenced in the case on March 19, 2012. Susan Rhee Osborne, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and Henry Leventis, a U.S. Justice Department trial attorney in the Civil Rights Department, are leading the prosecution, the department’s press release suggested.

A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Evaluation and Inspections Division in Sept. 2009 revealed that between fiscal years 2001 and 2008, the number of sexual misconduct allegations filed against Bureau of Prison (BOP) employees rose 130 percent. The number of criminal sexual abuse allegations also rose 104 percent, bringing the grand tally of sex-related inmate claims to a whopping 1,585 during that time span. The study also found that “the general increase in allegations of staff criminal sexual abuse and sexual misconduct with inmates was greater than the increase in either the BOP’s staffing level or inmate population over the same time period.”

Aggravated sexual assault allegations—those accusing prison staff of using force and/or “placing the inmate in fear of death or serious bodily injury” as to engage in unlawful sexual acts—accounted for 9.3 percent (95) of sexual abuse/misconduct claims against prison employees. Furthermore, allegations of abusive sexual contact (i.e. inappropriate touching, fondling) accounted for 35.3 percent (363) of the said claims.

The remaining 55.4 percent of claims filed during that time span (570) alleged sexual abuse—“engaging in a sexual act with an inmate by threat or force”— and alleged sexual abuse of a ward“engaging in a sexual act with an inmate”— on the part of prison guards and staff.

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Miami, FL December 27, 2011 – A November 21th, 2011 jury verdict, awarding $1,050,000 to a 30-year-old Florida man savagely beaten at a popular Miami nightclub, wasn’t just a victory for the plaintiff and his injury lawyers at Miami’s Gerson & Schwartz. It was also a wake-up call that nightclub security measures need to move into the 21st century, says the firm’s senior partner, Philip M. Gerson — especially with the holiday season upon us.

“The holidays are a time for celebration and leisure, and many people in Florida and elsewhere will be heading to clubs and other establishments, expecting not only to have a good time but to be safe,” says Gerson, a veteran trial lawyer and advocate for crime victims’ rights. “Unfortunately, too many nightclubs are dropping the ball on security, relying on antiquated methods like the use of poorly trained bouncers. Our case, involving one of Miami’s best known, trendiest clubs, shows that even A-list venues can have D-list security. It’s time to change that.”
In the November case – David Millian v. Penrod Brothers Inc., D/B/A NIKKI BEACH Club — Gerson’s client had been attacked and severely injured at Club Nikki in South Beach. Nikki Beach Club and is a well known South Beach hot spot located on an oceanfront complex featuring an upstairs dance club and downstairs beach club and lounge with cabanas, lounge beds, and two restaurants. Punched in the face by a fellow patron who was holding a glass, the victim suffered deep facial lacerations that required reconstructive surgery — leaving him with significant scarring. During the nearly two-week trial, Gerson successfully argued that the club’s security was woefully inadequate. Indeed, the attack occurred in what should have been the most protected spot in the establishment, a small area near the restrooms and front entrance.

Nor was this an isolated event. Last summer, Gerson & Schwartz obtained another million-dollar award in a security-related case, this time for the family of a victim who wasn’t as fortunate. In Roger Hall Sr. as Personal Representative of the Estate of Roger Hall et al., v. Royal Palm Park West, LLC., et al Case No: 0615038 CA-10 Miami Dade Circuit Court. The decedent, Roger Hall Jr., a star high school quarterback was stabbed to death at a large Miami nightclub in the well known Park West night club district in Miami, Florida leaving a 2-year-old son. While the crime has not yet been solved, a Florida jury ordered that the property owner must pay $1.7 million in damages.

“Ever since 9/11, Americans know that security isn’t about an old man asleep on a stool in a bank or grocery store,” says Gerson, who has represented injury and crime victims for more than 40 years. “Nor should it be a poorly trained bouncer in a club. Security is a science and there needs to be a professional approach. Everyone knows that mixing alcohol and testosterone can be a recipe for confrontation. People have a legal right to be safe from violence whenever they are in a public space. That means property owners and club operators have to undertake precautions commensurate with the inherent risks they foster to earn money.”
Such precautions, the veteran injury lawyer says, should include proactive security, where properly trained and supervised personnel carry out careful admission procedures, weapons checks (requiring, in many clubs, metal detectors or pat downs), stringent enforcement of lawful age statutes, and careful observation of customer behavior — identifying those who show signs of intoxication or substance abuse.

Management of aggressive behaviors, or MOAB, is now an accepted part of security science in public places drawing large crowds,” says Gerson, who also serves as a board member of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims. “Protective interventions before potentially dangerous customers lash out are key. This could consist of a warning to friends or even a paid taxi ride home. It’s a small price for a nightclub to pay to prevent a disaster on its property — and to prevent great harm to innocent people inside or outside the club.”
Security and safety, Gerson notes, is everyone’s business and requires attention, focus, and effective, well-crafted procedures. “Keeping revelers safe,” says the injury lawyer, “is one New Year’s resolution that needs to begin before we ring in 2012.”

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Miami, FL December 19, 2011 – The arrest of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse — involving 10 alleged victims — hasn’t just sent shockwaves through the country, but provided a wake-up call, says Miami injury lawyer and crime victim advocate Philip M. Gerson. Indeed, says the senior partner of Gerson & Schwartz, the Penn State case highlights how woefully ineffective and inconsistent reporting requirements for suspected child sex crimes are — and how both legislation and cooperation between the public and the police need to be improved.
Child sex abuse is horrific in all cases, but what is striking about the Sandusky allegations is that there seemed to be a number of people who knew what was going on, or at least had good reason to suspect criminal behavior, yet may not have promptly reported that activity to police,” says Gerson, a veteran trial lawyer who has represented injury and sex abuse victims for more than 40 years. “Unfortunately, while we like to think that people will do the right thing in cases like this, they don’t always do so. And that makes reporting requirements, with very real penalties for not reporting, essential.”
While many states do require citizens to report suspected abuse, there is currently no uniform standard, and the details on who must make a report, and when they must do so, can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. “In Florida, if a child is brought into a hospital emergency room and there are injuries consistent with possible abuse, medical staff have a statutory duty to report that to authorities,” says Gerson. “Yet a neighbor who sees something doesn’t have a duty to report. In New Jersey, on the other hand, a neighbor is required to report what he or she saw. Having different rules in different states not only complicates and confuses things, but it ultimately means that many cases of abuse continue unhindered. And children that have already been harmed are harmed more — and worse.”
Gerson, a board member of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims, is calling for a nationwide, uniform standard for reporting — with criminal penalties for those who fail in their duty. But he’s not stopping there.
“A uniform standard is important, but it’s just the first step,” the Miami injury lawyer says. “What we really need is greater cooperation between the public and the police, much like what we saw after 9/11, when ordinary citizens would see a suspicious package on a bus or train and alert law enforcement. No law can create this sort of collaborative environment, but as cases like Penn State get attention and scrutiny, the public is going to say ‘enough.’ They’re going to come together and fight back — it’s the one hopeful sign in an utterly horrific situation.”
With more reporting, says Gerson, serial abuse could be stopped in its tracks. “One constant in the 42 years I have been representing crime victims is that predators don’t just stop being predators. Many of these cases involve multiple victims. By the time I get involved, the abuse has already happened for them. I’m reaching out to lawmakers because I want them to take the steps that can prevent these crimes, to make sure police are able to take action as soon as possible, before there are dozens of victims.”
Uniform reporting requirements are just one way in which legislatures can spur justice along. Gerson is also calling for the elimination of statutes of limitations in child sex abuse cases — a call echoed by the National Center for Victims of Crime and a growing number of state legislators. These statutes, which limit the amount of time in which civil and criminal cases can be brought, have hindered legal action in instances where abuse went unreported for many years.
“These cases aren’t the same as someone stealing your iPod, where you think nothing of reporting the crime,” says Gerson. “Sexual abuse is traumatic, and many victims are simply unable to talk about it for a very long time. When they can, they should be able to seek justice, and hold their abusers accountable. The law needs to facilitate that — not prohibit it.”

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MIAMI, FL—Prosecutors found two South Florida men— including an ex-Miami Beach police officer who posed as a talent scout as a means of luring aspiring female models to travel to Miami for purported auditions— guilty of videotaping the rapes of at least nine drugged women and subsequently selling the pornographic footage to various adult film websites and businesses. According to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, as well as reports by the Sun Sentinel, former Miami Beach cop Lavont Flanders Jr. and his partner in crime, Emerson “Jah-T” Callum were convicted of a combined 32 counts of distribution of Xanax, conspiracy and human trafficking, some of which dated back to May 2006.
Seven of the nine known rape victims, whom live in different parts of the nation and traveled to South Florida at the time of their attacks, testified in the case. Those women all claimed they were initially “contacted online by a female model.” That model happened to be Flanders. According to the press release, “In this way, Flanders contacted the victims about purported modeling auditions in Miami. After the victims provided their phone numbers, they would receive a call from a purported modeling scout – again, defendant Flanders – who claimed to represent large, multi-national companies, like Bacardi, Sony, or Paramount Pictures. Flanders told the victims that he liked their “look” and offered them a supposed role in an audition in Miami.”
Upon meeting with the aspiring models who agreed to take part in the phony auditions, Flanders informed them that they would be trying out for a part in a commercial for alcoholic beverages. Little did they know that the drinks they were told to “promote” for the so-called audition were spiked with benzodiazepines—a date rape drug. “Once the drugs had taken effect, Flanders drove the victims to Callum, who had sex with the victims while Flanders filmed them. Flanders and Callum then edited, produced, and sold the footage of the sex acts over the Internet and to pornography stores and businesses across the country,” the press release went on to explain.
Lavont Flanders Jr., a 40-year-old Miami Gardens man, was convicted of 18 of the 32 counts in the indictment. Five of those 18 counts were related to the distribution of the benzodiazepine, Xanax. Flanders was also found guilty of “enticing and conspiring to entice the women to South Florida, knowing that fraud would be used to cause the women to engage in commercial sex acts,” according to the press release.
While Emerson Callum, Flanders’ 45-year-old accomplice from Miami, was also convicted of “enticing and conspiring to entice the women to South Florida, knowing that fraud would be used to cause the women to engage in commercial sex acts,” he did not face any counts related to the distribution of Xanax. Both Flanders and Callum face potential life sentences and are scheduled to be sentenced in the case on Feb. 16.
According to past NBC Miami reports, one of the rape victims filed a sexual assault lawsuit naming not only Flanders and Callum, but—
the social networking website that put her in contact with them— as defendants. Flanders and Callum were arrested on Aug. 17, following an FBI raid in which agents confiscated multiple boxes of porn DVDs, as well as other pieces of unspecified evidence in the case.

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MIAMI, FL—A plea deal was reached in the case of an ex-University of Miami football player originally charged with sexual battery in the alleged campus rape of an unidentified female, NBC Miami reported. A defense attorney on the case told reporters his client will plead guilty to a false imprisonment charge and serve a 3-year probation sentence under the said plea agreement.

According to information provided, 19-year-old former UM football player Jeffrey Brown, of Illinois, was accused of raping a sleeping (and intoxicated) woman in April 2011. Coral Gables police reports suggested the unidentified victim was drunk and went to Brown’s dorm room to ask if she could use the restroom. That woman ended up vomiting and passing out on the floor of the restroom before Brown brought her back to her friend’s dorm.

Brown ultimately went back to his own dorm after dropping the woman off at her friend’s dorm, but decided to return in the middle of the night. According to arrest reports, “As the victim was sleeping, [Brown] pulled off the victims blanket and got on top of her…He then removed the victims underwear.”  Authorities contended that although the woman eventually woke up and ordered Brown to stop having sex with her, but to no avail.

Upon being interrogated by police in connection with the alleged campus sexual assault, Brown initially contested the allegations. It was only after Coral Gables Police detectives stumbled upon an incriminating text message conversation between Brown and one of his friends—in which the accused former UM football player asked his unidentified friend to dispose of his underwear— that he confessed to having sexual intercourse with the complainant.

Brown, whom was a freshman when the rape allegations surfaced, has since been kicked off the Miami Hurricanes.

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MIAMI, FL— November 9, 2011 – Officials from the Coral Gables Police Department (CGPD) arrested and charged a University of Miami student from China in connection with the alleged sexual assault of multiple female students who were sleeping in their college dorms at the time. According to information provided by the Miami Herald, the accused UM student, who is currently facing two counts of burglary with assault or battery, is being detained at the Miami-Dade’s Pre-Trial Detention Center without bail.

Reports suggested 21-year-old Jiahoao Yuan unlawfully entered two unlocked dorm rooms within the Mahoney Residential College Dorm around the 6am hour on Nov. 6. Once inside the first dorm room, Yuan allegedly went on to “inappropriately” touch a sleeping female UM student.

That unidentified victim woke up during the apparent sex assault, prompting Yuan to run into a second dormitory. It appears as if Yuan fled the scene after seemingly sexually assaulting another female student. The alleged sexual assault victims called 911 immediately after the dorm intrusions occurred.

According to a Coral Gables Police spokesperson, Yuan was identified as the culprit after detectives examined surveillance footage taken at the Mahoney Residential College dorm, which is located at 1101 Stanford Drive in Miami-Dade County. Following Yuan’s 12:30 p.m. arrest, he reportedly gave a full confession in the University of Miami dorm room assault case.

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