$2 Million Gold Thief Raonel Valdez Back in Miami-Dade County Jail

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Bolton Investigations
Raonel Valdez in handcuffs back in Miami-Dade County jail.
For a while, Raonel Valdez was like the Chris Angel of Cuban-born delinquents, mind-freaking the criminal justice system with his ability to escape hard time. His bag of tricks may have finally come up empty. Yesterday, Valdez was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (TGK) after spending close to 12 months on the lam.

See also: A $2.8 Million Gold Heist Shows Cuban Gangs Still Rule Miami

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Three Cops Sold Guns All Over South Florida, Sent to Prison (Video)

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These two cops are in prison for illegally selling more than 500 guns.
In December, I received an email from a former police officer once featured in Miami New Times for blowing the whistle on dirty cops in the town of Golden Beach. Life had turned upside down for Tammy Valdes and her husband, Rafael, since she won a $233,000 judgment against the town in 2012 for unjustly firing her. The couple was looking at serious hard time following their conviction for tax evasion and for selling more than 500 firearms without a federal license at gun shows in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach.

The feds also convicted Jose Antonio Quintana, an ex-Miami Beach cop who introduced the Valdeses to the gun show game.

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How to Grow Pot for (Soon to Be) Legal Profit: Inside Cannabis Career Institute's Miami Seminar

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Cannabis Career Institute founder Bob Calkin (left) with seminar speaker Mark Santiago.
There's an old High Times video of legendary pot grower Jorge Cervantes that opens with "the Ganja Guy" behind the wheel of an old rusty tractor. Cervantes -- wearing his iconic disguise of black sunglasses and black dreadlocks -- tells viewers he's taking them on a tour of marijuana gardens throughout his native Spain. "Well, enough talk," Cervantes says. "I have a field to plant."

That video intro alone is enough to make anyone say, "Hell yeah! Let's grow marijuana!"

It's the same feeling many entrepreneurial Floridians are experiencing as the days count down for the historic November vote to legalize medical marijuana. Almost 150 of them packed into a hotel conference room this weekend to learn about how to make money off the coming weed revolution.

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Meet Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora's "Prince of Darkness"

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Michael Gongorra and Randall Hilliard, AKA "Prince of Darkness."
Michael Gongora is a Miami Beach commissioner running for mayor. On his campaign website, the commish touts his corruption-fighting credentials, boldly proclaiming he engineered the dismissal of shady city employees who violated the public's trust. "Now, thanks to my leadership," Gongora boasts on his website, "City Hall is more transparent."

Oddly, Miami Beach's white knight has retained the services of one Randall Hilliard, a political consultant who fancies himself the "Prince of Darkness." Yes, really. To prove his demonic reputation, Hilliard listed his phone number under his Satanic nomme de guerre when he lived in Key West.

Coincidentally, Hilliard is the brains behind an electioneering communications organization, the laughably named Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, that has not disclosed the source of money being used to attack one of Gongora's opponents. Transparency, indeed.

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TSA To Florida Gun Owners: Leave the Heat at Home!

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Some of the guns seized at Florida airports.
Hey there Florida gun owners. Feeling a little more paranoid than usual these days? Don't trust the government can protect you from potential menaces when you're catching a flight out of Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, or Miami?

The Transportation Security Administration certainly seems to think you're all freaking out. The airport patdown agency recently issued a travel advisory telling y'all to leave your steel at home after a recent increase in seized firearms at airports across the Gunshine State.

In less than a week, TSA officials confiscated ten handguns in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando with the most recent stopped today in Tampa, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

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Miami-Dade Cops Who Abused Overtime Still Assigned To Public Corruption

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J.D. Patterson kept the overtime abusers on the public corruption division.
Yesterday, we noted El Nuevo Herald's scoop about Miami-Dade Police public corruption detectives going HAM on their overtime hours while investigating a quartet of park employees who pocketed a few thousand bucks. According to El Nuevo Herald, the investigators clocked 934 hours of overtime, collecting $58,288 to nab four men who allegedly stole $3,000. Police Director J.D. Patterson informed reporters Enrique Flor and Jay Weaver that the overtime abuse prompted him to "redeploy the corruption section with the support of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez."

Well guess what? The three officers at the center of the overtime scandal are still working public corruption cases. D'oh!

See also: Miami-Dade Corruption Cops Collected $58,000 in Overtime Working a Petty Case

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Steve Berke Takes a Serious Turn in Second Miami Beach Mayoral Attempt

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George Martinez
Steve Berke has sobered up his second run for Miami Beach mayor.
Two years ago, he serenaded his entrenched opponent, Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, by having Sexy Sax Man play "Careless Whisper" for her during a city commission meeting. He cut a campaign video enumerating his pledges while slamming shots of booze and declared himself de facto leader of an emerging political group, "The After Party." His tongue-in-cheek tactics helped native son Steve Berke amass widespread national media attention and pick up 23 percent of the vote in the 2011 Miami Beach mayoral election.

Not bad for a first-time candidate. Now Berke is back, a little more sober and a lot wiser as he seeks the highest office in Miami Beach against another entrenched city politician and a local real estate and media company mogul who is largely self-funding his campaign.

However, Berke still has some of the edginess that made him a star in 2011 -- such as backing the decriminalization of marijuana and staffing his campaign with beautiful models.

See also: Steve Berke: Comedian for Miami Beach mayor

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Miami-Dade Corruption Cops Collected $58,000 in Overtime Working a Petty Case

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Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson
In early August, Miami-Dade Police made a big hullabaloo about busting four county employees who allegedly pocketed about $3,100 in entrance fees to Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah. Well, now it turns out the bigger thieves were actually the detectives investigating Jamal Sheffield, Charles Simons, Camilo Felipe and Manuel Valdes.

Investigators from the public corruption unit involved in the probe made $58,288 by working 934 overtime hours snooping on the four park employees between February and May, according to El Nuevo Herald.

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Hey, Carlos Gimenez, Check Out CH2M Hill's Tarnished Past

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Get this: The national engineering firm in the driver's seat to oversee Miami-Dade's $1.6 billion overhaul of the county's monumentally dilapidated sewer system has a history of violating the Clean Water Act, mishandling radioactive waste, billing for phantom work, and paying kickbacks.

In most places, that track record would get a vendor banned. In Miami-Dade, it shoots a company to the top of the pecking order.

See also: Firm That Scammed Federal Government Vying For Important Miami-Dade Sewage Contract

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Another Scammer Pleads Guilty in $2.4 Million Miami-Dade Real Estate Racket

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Johnny Bou Nassar
A man who cashed checks for three women involved in a pair of real estate scams that ripped off 15 victims recently pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts of racketeering, grand theft, and uttering a forged instrument. For his crimes, Johnny Bou Nassar will get two years of house arrest plus 15 years. He got a sweetheart deal in exchange for flipping on Ayda Young and Yohany Garcia, two women with previous arrests for fraud who allegedly orchestrated the schemes. Miami New Times was the first news outlet to expose them in 2011.

Nassar, Young, Garcia, and another accomplice Zoraida Abreu, were arrested last year following a criminal probe by the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office and the county police department. Abreau pleaded guilty in May and received 15 years probation. She also has to snitch on Young and Garcia as part of her deal.

See also: Miami woman accused of scamming real estate investors

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