Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Probation Sweep
More than a dozen criminals who were on probation in South Florida have been arrested again. They were busted during a sweep that turned up everything from drugs to weapons. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case, with exclusive access.
WSVN -- There's nothing easy about dealing with criminals on probation, and on this night that was very clear. From an ugly scene to a possible offender on the run, probation officers are never sure what will happen next, and authorities are stepping things up.
Carmel Cafiero: "This probation sweep covers several firsts. It's the first to cover both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and it's the first to include Homeland Security agents and the Secret Service."
Maria DeBernardo, Probation Department: "There's been unemployment compensation fraud, there's been food stamp fraud, there's been the IRS tax return fraud, and so that's why we're going to make sure none of these crimes are going on."
John Ellis was found to have credit cards, ID's and documents in his home that didn't belong to him. The Secret Service is now looking at those documents.
Christina Bullins, Probation Department: "You've got two social security cards that are not in your name and a book of checks that are not in your name."
Ellis is on probation for leaving a crash with injuries. He says he found the ID's, cards and documents and planned to return them to the owners.
John Ellis: "I don't have nothing to say. Now I appreciate your moving your mic back out of the way."
The federal presence was bad news for 23-year-old Cesar Bacilo. He wasn't on probation, but was visiting a friend who was, and authorities discovered he was named in a deportation order to Venezuela.
Sarah Harrington: "And he either never left or he came back, so they are taking him into custody tonight."
Cesar Bacilo: "I'm scared. I don't know what's over there. This is my life, and now I have to start over."
His friend, Brandon Hardcastle, on probation for robbery and aggravated battery, was also taken into custody after officers found drug paraphernalia and more.
Debra Miller, Probation Department: "This subject happens to be on for charges involving the use of a weapon and we found also this gun which appears to be very realistic, but we believe is a pellet gun."
He denied doing any wrong.
Carmel Cafiero: "What about what they took from you tonight?"
Brandon Hardcastle: "I didn't have any drugs and I did not have a gun. They did not take a gun or drugs from me."
Denial was a common theme. Clinton Simmons, a sex offender, insisted there was nothing wrong with him having a sword.
Christina Bullins: "It has a button here, and it comes undone."
And nothing wrong with having these two razor-sharp weapons. He says his probation officer said it was OK.
Christina Bullins: "There is no possible way, because you cannot have a weapon."
Clinton Simmons: "Well, I showed them to her, so I don't know what you want me to say, OK?"
And Michael Haworth, on probation for an opium charge, insisted the drugs in his home were not his.
Michael Haworth: "They're trying to arrest me unfairly."
Carmel Cafiero: "Why do you say that?"
Michael Haworth: "Because nothing in my house belongs to me at all, Carmel, nothing at all."
The worst moment of the night came when Luis Rios was being arrested. On probation for drug, gun and grand theft charges, authorities say they found marijuana. Friends and family yelled and screamed and surrounded the police car.
Sarah Harrington: "For them, making a scene, they sometimes think that's going to make everybody back off. We don't let them escalate what we do."
As the night drew to a close, violators and their weapons and drugs were off the streets, and no one was hurt in the process. That's a win-win for the officers and for South Florida. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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