Friday, June 25, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Guard Jobs Follow
Earlier this month, 7 News exposed a company that appeared to be promising jobs, but not delivering, even after applicants paid for training. Now, the operator of that company is paying. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle: "And this guy comes along and for $250 - promises a job."
Jerry Perl: "You don't do that to people."
WSVN -- Thirty seven year old Michael Vargas had just flown in from New Jersey. He walked into the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office a free man. A short time later he walked out in handcuffs on his way to jail. He is accused of promising but not delivering jobs.
Jerry Perl: "Job? No job, there was no job at all."
As we first showed you, Larry Williams, Jerry Perl and Emerald George say they were taken in by ads on the internet that promised security guard jobs paying $13 to $15 an hour. Some even offered a 401k plan and dental coverage.
Emerald George: "It sounded great."
But there was a catch. They say Michael Vargas told them they would have to pay his company, Security Professional Group $250 each for training before getting the jobs.
Emerald George: "I ask him like five to ten times. I ask him, is it guaranteed that after the training, do you get a job and he said yeah."
Jerry Perl: "He told me straight up, as soon as I'm done with the course, you'll be working right away."
The men paid took the training but got no jobs. Larry, with five children to support, says losing that money was a big blow.
Larry Williams: "I didn't just stand in the street and just put $250 in the wind, but that's the equivalent of what we did."
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle: "You know, it's absolutely despicable."
The state attorney minces no words about what Vargas is accused of doing during these tough economic times.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle: "And he stole that money. He never intended to give them jobs."
Judge Mindy Glazer: "Michael Vargas..."
Vargas has been charged with an organized scheme to defraud.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle: "I mean we don't know how many victims there are of this predator, he is a predator."
In bond court Prosecutor Bill Kostrzewski told the judge that Vargas may have victimized as many as 400 job seekers.
Bill Kostrzewski: "And at the same time that he was pulling the scam here in Miami, he was doing the same thing in New Jersey."
The attorney for Vargas says his client did place people in jobs and asked for a reduced bond. It didn't work.
Judge Mindy Glazer: "Ok, I'm setting the bond at $100,000, I believe he is a flight risk as well given that there's so many potential victims."
Vargas will also have to prove whatever money he pays for bond did not come from any of the people he is accused of victimizing.
Emerald George: "You have a bunch of people willing to make sacrifices, then they get screwed in the end. It kinds of hurts you know, it hurts."
Carmel Cafiero: "The state attorney's office says its investigation remains open and active. And it wants to hear from anyone who paid Michael Vargas for a job that never materialized. Carmel Cafiero 7 News."
The state attorney asks that anyone who has been a victim in this case - please contact her office at 305-547-3300.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: