Former Prosecutor

When writing articles for my blog I try to find stories which are interesting, current, deal with cases in South Florida and hold the reader’s interest. In many cases the stories that are told are left incomplete before a final resolution has been decided.

In a variety of these articles, I’ll leave the reader with the words “check back here” for further updates. With that in mind I’ll bring readers up-to-date on some of the cases that were unresolved at the time of their original inception and their completion at the time they were written.

On May 28, 2017, I posted an article titled:

The mission of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) as specified on their Website “is to work in partnership with local communities to protect the vulnerable, promote strong and economically self-sufficient families, and advance personal and family recovery and resiliency.”

The Courts that oversee cases brought by DCF in South Florida are known as Dependency Courts and will bend over backwards to keep young children together with their natural parents. In cases of parental abuse, although evidence will be weighed to remove a child in some cases, the overwhelming decision of the court is keeping a family united.

The Florida Dependency Court Information System (FDCIS) is a web-based case management system that provides the Court with resources to receive up-to-date information for what has been signaled to DCF to be potentially abused and neglected children. Its other function is to assure timeliness of court events. This system basically provides the court with what is deemed to be reliable data which is entered into the system to assist judges in making proper decisions. The system also utilizes data exchanges with various other agencies.

Alexis Vila Perdomo is a Cuban born two-time World Champion wrestler and 1996 Olympic bronze medal winner who defected to the United States via Puerto Rico in 1997.

Perdomo and Manuel Marin were friends from their days living in Cuba and Marin assisted his friend with coming to the mainland, gave him a job and helped him open a wrestling studio. He later went on to coach wrestling at Michigan State University. Based on an arrest warrant which implicates the two men and others with conspiracy to commit murder and other charges, Perdomo considered Marin to be his mentor.

At the time the alleged murder took place; Perdomo was featured as a mixed martial arts fighter (MMA), performing on the Florida regional circuit and then the Bellator circuit as well as with other MMA organizations. He previously served a three-year sentence after authorities mistakenly believed his actions to be attempted terrorism when he accidentally crashed his car into an area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He was ultimately charged and pleaded guilty to the felony of airport violence. Prior to his conviction his primary defense was that he suffering clinical depression at the time of the incident.

In the early morning hours this past February Cesar Cepeda lost control of his pickup truck by the on-ramp at the intersection of the Dolphin Expressway and Florida’s Turnpike. He was able to move the vehicle onto a grassy area on the side of the highway. Unable to restart the vehicle, he called his father Jose for assistance. His father promptly arrived to help his son. As the two men were standing on the side of the road by their vehicles, another car veered off the highway, striking and killing the two of them.

The man who ran into the father and son then left the 2014 Camaro he was driving and took off with the father’s Chevy Equinox. The SUV was later found that same day abandoned in the town of Homestead.

DNA evidence left at the scene found in and on the suspect’s car matched a man named Earl Lewis, of Homestead and led to a manhunt that went on for nearly a month. The Florida Highway Patrol began their search for Lewis assisted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

As 2017 was coming to a close the last act performed by Marlin Joseph was allegedly murdering his 36-year-old girlfriend, Kaladaa Crowell and her 11-year-old daughter Kyra Inglett.

After the double murder occurred, Joseph went on the run taking Cromwell’s gray 2012 Toyota Camry. The BOLO (Be on the lookout) issued by authorities specified that the car Joseph was last seen driving had a Bethune-Cookman specialty license plate BA0MJ. His description signified his hair styled in short dreadlocks, a cross tattoo between his eyes, as well as a large tattoo on the right side of his face. He was listed at 5’10”, 180 lbs. wearing khaki pants with no visible shirt at the time of the shooting. Police were concerned that he might have changed his appearance.

A five thousand dollar reward was offered by the US Marshal’s Service in conjunction with the West Palm Beach Police Dept. for any information leading to the whereabouts and capture of Joseph, but no one cashed in on the money when the Marshals tracked him down without any help from the public. Joseph was found hiding in an apartment complex in Lake Worth through what the Marshal’s service touted as their normal investigative process. He was taken into custody on New Year’s Day wanted on two counts of first-degree murder.

A North Lauderdale woman was jailed last month after a jury found her guilty of ninety counts of stealing federal funds. The jury deliberated for approximately thirty minutes before finding her guilty of all charges in Fort Lauderdale federal court. Her sentencing hearing is set for April 5, 2018 when she can be sent to federal prison for up to ten years. Additionally, she will most likely be slapped with a fine of up to $250,000 in addition to restitution of the stolen money and at least three years of supervised release after her sentence is served.

She was represented at trial by a Federal Public Defender.

Myriam Etienne illegally accepted more than $130,000 in Social Security benefits which were directly deposited into a bank account she jointly shared with her grandparents. For more than a decade Etienne illegally received her grandfather’s benefits as well as receiving her grandmother’s payments after she also died.

The four boys were attending a party in Homestead when they apparently got bored and decided to leave. They drove around the area for a while in Quentin Vicks’ Ford Taurus stopping at a liquor store before moving on to the area of Mr. Vick’s neighborhood of Hidden Grove.

At the same time the four young men were en route to the South Miami apartment complex. Robert Nelson was making his rounds for his employer; 50 State Security, in his company car. He had previously worked as a flight attendant before taking the armed yet un-uniformed security job. Their paths crossing ended in tragedy with the ambush style murder of the security guard.

Nelson was well liked at the apartment complex which was located at the intersection of Southwest 271 Terrace and 138 Avenue close by to the Crystal Learning Center. One neighbor who was interviewed recalled Nelson helping his wife to the door of their apartment in the late night hours when it was very dark outside. “He shined the light on my doorway so my wife could come up the steps,” the neighbor said. Others living in the complex also had only good things to say about the security guard.

Retired Air Force Major Thomas Maffei’s attorney argued at trial that in addition to his client suffering from diagnosed PTSD, panic disorder, and major depression, he was recently tormented by severe insomnia and just returned from the VA clinic the day he shot his estranged wife and ex-father-in-law in front of their screaming four year old son.

His lawyer went on to say that on the day of the shooting Maffei was exceedingly anxious and made the trip to the VA clinic to have his medications adjusted. The clinic added a high dosage of Oxycodone to the opiates, other pain medications and added a new prescription.

Maffei was charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary, two counts of false imprisonment and child abuse.

In last month’s blog post, I began the story of Dalia Dippolito, a Boynton Beach woman who was convicted of the attempted contract killing of her husband, and then sentenced to twenty years in prison for the charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder with a firearm in 2011.

The incident was initiated after Boynton Beach Police were tipped off that Mrs. Dippolito was looking for someone to kill her husband Michael.

Mrs. Dippolito’s solicitation was offered to a person who turned out to be an undercover police officer, posing as a hitman who she paid $7000 to commit the crime.

The scene opened with a text placard reading:

Contract Killing

It then fades out to a passage showing the entrance of the Boynton Beach Police Department where the narration by a detective begins as follows:

“We received a call that was transferred into our detective bureau related to a woman who wanted to hire a hitman to kill her husband”.

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