Thursday, August 5, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Price to Pay
On any given day, thousands of sex offenders and other criminals are out of jail and on probation here in South Florida. It's an opportunity for them, but if they don't follow the rules there's a price to pay. Investigative reporter, Carmel Cafiero with this special assignment report.
WSVN -- Criminals on probation never know when authorities will show up at the door.
Deborah Miller, State Probation Department: "Hello, how are you? I'm Deborah Miller with probation, is Anthony home?"
Enforcement teams are made up of probation officers who are backed up police officers and sheriff's deputies.
Anthony Dotson: "Grandma, come here, give me a hug."
There was a warrant for Anthony Dotson's arrest for an earlier violation of probation.
Deborah Miller: "He was on for a battery charge and his violation was for driving."
Deborah Miller: "He had a revoked license and he was caught driving."
Carmel Cafiero: "Did you know there was a warrant for your arrest?"
Anthony Dotson: "Yeah, I knew there was a warrant."
Clearly his grandmother did not know .
Deborah Miller: "The upsetting thing is that the family is often blind sided by it. They don't know exactly what is going on."
Most people on probation have every opportunity to stay free when the department knocks, but not everybody follows the rules as we documented during a recent probation sweep in south Broward.
Deborah Miller: "It's very clear she didn't have a prescription for them. They are in a plain bottle with a handwritten label on them."
Victoria Rodriguez, who is on probation for trafficking heroin, was found with pain pills and no prescription.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why would you risk your freedom for these drugs?"
Drugs are always a concern and so are weapons.
In past probation sweeps, authorities have turned up everything from assault weapons in the car of a burglar, to a sex offender with a cache of weapons, that included swords, brass knuckles and even handcuffs.
On this night, it was a knife at the home of sex offender Jeffrey Stockhammer.
Carmel Cafiero: "What's the knife for?"
He's on probation for using a computer for sex with a minor. Police experts checked his computer, which came back clean.
Tom Sharrard, Probation Administrator: "Any felony offender or any offenders we supervise with a knife is a danger or could be a danger to my personnel that have to go in that house or search that house, or just interact with them. A knife is a very dangerous weapon."
Another issue for officers, protective family members who don't offer information.
Deborah Miller: "We need to make contact with him, but I'm just saying, you know he's not here. Hello you know!"
Or relatives who offer confusing information.
It was after 11, more than an hour past his curfew, when the team came looking for a young sex offender at his aunt's house. She would send them to his parents' house.
Father: "He comes sometimes to eat."
And they sent them back to the aunt's house, and that's where Robert Medina finally appeared.
Deborah Miller: "You are almost two hours late for curfew, OK?"
Medina is on probation for lewd and lascivious battery on a victim 12 to 15 years old. He pleaded not to go to jail.
Robert Medina: "I'm begging you, I'm almost off. Please please."
Medina said he was delayed by a flat tire, while out celebrating his 26th birthday.
Deborah Miller: "I don't think the story you are telling me is true. In fact, I think you're lying to me."
And with that he was taken into custody. With more than 30,000 people on supervised probation in Broward and Miami-Dade, the message from the department is clear.
Robert Medina: "Please, are you serious?"
Deborah Miller: "Very serious."
Follow the rules, all the rules or there's a price to pay.
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