Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Dummy Documents
This next one even has police shaking their heads in disbelief. It involves dummy documents being provided to unsuspecting businesses. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- If you want to run a business, expect to pay for occupational licenses and operating permits. It can take time at Town Hall to do the paperwork and wait on line, so people who call themselves expediters will do the legwork for a fee, but, police say, this man, 34-year-old Arturo Vargas, added a new twist.
They say he was paid more than $1,000 by a new business owner. He was supposed to help get a permit and a license for the business, but that never happened.
Detective Raul Escobar: "He pocketed the money. He deposited a $550 check into his bank account, and the rest of it was given to him in cash.
Carmel Cafiero: "Which he spent?"
Detective Raul Escobar: "Which he spent."
Marium Velasquez and her husband recently bought this sandwich shop in Miami Beach. Speaking through an interpreter, she told me they trusted Vargas to get their occupational license and a permit for the restaurant's grease trap.
Interpreter: "And he told us that he would do all the paperwork for them since she and her husband had no time, all the diligence of going through the city and all that."
Police say Vargas never produced the occupational license, and the permit he did provide is phony.
Det. Jose Diaz: "Those permits are very important because they allow the restaurants to operate grease traps."
Detectives from Miami-Dade's Environmental Investigative Unit are convinced the Velasquezes are innocent victims.
Det. Raul Escobar: "The owners of the store were mind-boggled."
And, when starting a business, the last thing you need to do is lose money.
Interpreter: "Because the idea is not to lose, it is to gain, but, when something like this happens, of course, she says, it affects you."
Vargas was arrested for grand theft, forgery and criminal use of personal identification. He is currently free on bond.
No one came to the door at his home, and although Vargas didn't respond to the card I left in the door, his lawyer did. He says Varagas would have no comment.
Carmel Cafiero: "Detectives say they doubt the Velasquezes were the only victims. They believe Vargas was working with a female partner and asked anyone who might have hired him as an expediter, to call detective Escobar at the number below.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Detective Raul Escobar
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