Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Criminals Among Us
All over South Florida, criminals are being released and put on probation. In Broward county alone, 1,200 felons a month are re-entering society under this closely watched program. In tonight's "Carmel on the Case" -- investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is giving us an exclusive look at how authorities are keeping check 24 hours a day.
WSVN -- Police call this a sex offender sweep.
Teams spread out throughout Broward County and search the homes of people on probation.
Offenders like 36-year-old Ivan Paredes of Fort Lauderdale find themselves in big trouble.
He was originally convicted for lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 16.
Tonight, he violated his probation when officers found pornography in his house.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why would you have this kind of material even though you know you're not supposed to?"
Ivan Parades: "I didn't know."
Carmel Cafiero: "You didn't know you weren't supposed to have pornographic material?"
Ivan Parades: "No."
But department administrator Don Monroe doesn't buy it.
Don Monroe: "Well each individual that's placed under supervision is instructed on the orders. He has a copy of those orders so he's fully aware of the conditions of his supervision."
Those conditions include no sexually stimulating material.
On this night,Monroe allowed us to tag along on a recent sweep through Southern Broward county.
Arrests were made all evening long. Among them James Walskey of Fort Lauderdale.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why didn't you stay off the Internet?"
James Walskey: "I wasn't on the Internet."
But probation officers say they found a computer with Internet access inside his home.
Both are forbidden for the 56-year-old who is on life long probation for using a computer for sex with a minor.
In all 160 people were checked on, on this night. And as a result multiple sex offenders found themselves handcuffed and on the way back to jail.
The sweeps have been so successful - Monroe has expanded them.
Don Monroe: "This guy here is a career criminal."
Now - career criminals like Darrell Humes of Hollywood are also being checked.
He's on probation for cocaine possession, but he has a long record.
And because he failed to register where he was living - he was arrested.
Don Monroe: "I think if he doesn't register than the public won't know that they have a dangerous offender living in the neighborhood."
Probation Officer: "Hello, is Vincent home?"
And when the department comes knocking - probationers have no choice but to let them in.
Probation Officer: "So we need to see your bedroom."
Offender: "All right."
Probation Officer: "Anything here you're not supposed to have?"
This probation sweep enlisted officers from the Broward sheriff's office plus five city departments.
It's an opportunity for local departments to get up close and personal with just who is living in their jurisdiction and what they're up to.
Don Monroe: "I think that provides the maximum amount of supervision of these cases in the community."
Probation Officer: "Hello - how you doing tonight?"
Forty seven-year-old Vaughn Gittere got in trouble but didn't get arrested.
Don Monroe: "He's on for sexual battery and lewd and lascivious acts on a child."
Authorities found a sword -- dull but a weapon never the less, plus video games which are forbidden because they can be used to lure minors.
Don Monroe: "So we're going to report all that back to the Judge in Palm Beach to see if we can obtain a warrant for his arrest."
The teams will be out again although nobody is saying when. They will continue to check - on the criminal next door.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or In Broward at 954-921-CLUE