am thrilled to announce that we have partnered again with the Cuban
American Bar Association (CABA) to collect and distribute hundreds of
toys to needy children and families of our community.
have set up collection boxes in the lobbies of our different SAO office
sites to gather toys for children victims of the State Attorney's
Office and community agencies Centro Mater and Abriendo Puertas that
serve our most needy.
all the things available during this holiday season, the gift of hope
is often the one that can do the most good. If a small present lights
up a child's eyes and brings a smile to a parent, then we have done
some good and lessened the weight that trouble and misfortune carry
can help us put a smile on the face of children who otherwise would not
have a present to open during the holidays. We will be accepting all
types of contributions through December 15, 2015. The toys must be new
more information regarding this initiative or to organize a pickup of
your donation, please email our Community Outreach Division at email@example.com
or contact us directly at 305-547-0724.
fill these boxes as much as we can and make 2015 the best holiday
season ever for our precious children.
State Attorney Attends Important Community Forum
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez
Rundle and panel at New Birth Baptist Church
Speaking at Forum
State Attorney and
Ms.Tara Michole Parks
Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle participated in a panel at an
important Community Forum hosted by Bishop Victor Curry at his New
Birth Baptist Church in Opa-Locka. The event was organized by the
National Action Network.
forum brought together key leaders in the community who listened
to and addressed the concerns primarily of grieving mothers who
tragically lost their sons to senseless killings. Members of the
audience in attendance also had the opportunity to address the panel.
had the opportunity to embrace State Attorney Katherine Fernandez
Rundle, commented Ms. Tara Michole Parks, whose son was a
victim of this senseless violence. "The sincerity of her heart for
families who have lost a loved one was real. We had questions she had
answers. I'm thankful that she was there and she's going to address
Conviction in Facebook Murder Case
Medina, the man who uploaded a photo of his wife onto Facebook after murdering
her, was found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder by a Miami-Dade County
jury. He was also found guilty of Shooting a Deadly Missile and Child
who claimed self-defense, shot his wife Jennifer Alonso eight
times and admitted to taking the photo on his phone and
posting it on to the social media site.
Crimes Division Chief Leah Klein, Assistant Chief Scott Dunn, and
Assistant State Attorney Joshua Hubner presented the case before
Judge Yvonne Colodny.
family should ever have to see their daughter killed and then exhibited
world-wide on the internet like some macabre trophy to a husband's
anger as was Jennifer Alfonso," commented State Attorney Katherine
Fernandez Rundle. "Far, far too often this kind of domestic violence
leads to injury and death. That's why we all must end all forms of
domestic violence. The jury carefully viewed all the evidence and came
to the correct conclusion that Derek Medina coldly murdered his wife to
heal his own injured ego. When he is sentenced, we will be seeking a
Two Charged in Insurance Fraud Scheme
a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's
Office and the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, 55 year old
Violeta Otero, the owner and operator of the Sunshine Wellness Clinic,
and 52 year old Ida Mercado Rico, a patient broker, were charged in an
insurance fraud scheme which targeted the Miami-Dade School System by
defrauding its self-insurance plan.
forms previously completed at the Sunshine Wellness Clinic, insurance
accounts of a number of Miami-Dade School District employee patients
were filed for medical treatments and injections which never occurred.
Many of these patients were initially recruited to come to the clinic
by Ida Mercado Rico and were often paid in cash by Ida Mercado Rico.
Otero and Ida Mercado Rico have been charged with Organized Scheme to
Defraud, Grand Theft and various other Felony charges.
fraud is an attack on every individual on every person who pays an
insurance premium," commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine
Fernandez Rundle. "Insurance fraud scams that steal from our
public school system take dollars intended to make our schools
function, dollars that can educate our children, and put those dollars
into the pockets of thieves. I applaud this partnership which allows my
prosecutors and the Miami-Dade Schools Police to effectively shut down
Ilona Holmes, presently presiding on the criminal court bench of
Florida's 17th Judicial Circuit, was born in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. "I'm originally from North Philly. We moved to
Deerfield Beach, Florida in 1974 after my father died. My mother had
family here including her mother Ella Nobles who lived to be 108 years
a child, Judge Holmes decided that she was going to be a lawyer. This
momentous revelation happened one evening while watching television
with her father.
remember being 7 years old watching Perry Mason with my dad. I turned
to him and said 'Daddy, I can do that'. He looked at me and said 'Well
then, go on and do it'. That is when I decided that I was going to be a
Holmes always felt her parents' deep emotional support. "My dad
never finished high school though my mother did. They were hard working
people. We didn't grow up rich but we grew up happy."
that happiness was impacted by the death of Judge Holmes' father and
the family relocating to be with relatives in Florida. "I remember
when we moved to Florida, my sister and I didn't like it here. It was a
very different culture than our hometown. So my sister and I plotted to
run away and go back to Philly," she chuckles. "Now I can
tell you that I never want to live anywhere but Florida!"
Holmes received her B.A. degree in Political Science from Florida
Atlantic University and her Juris Doctorate from Texas Southern
University Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
summer before her third year of law school, Judge Holmes was already a
Certified Legal Intern working at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's
her internship, Judge Holmes received a call from then State Attorney
Janet Reno to come to her office. "I panicked and tried to think
of what I had done wrong. I waited outside her office for about 20
minutes before I was told to go in. I kept trying to think about any
errors and trying to come up with a defense. Then Ms. Reno said 'I have
been going over your work. Everybody including the judges you have
appeared before love your work. I am prepared to make you an offer to
come and be an Assistant State Attorney once you graduate."
was so excited! It was unbelievable that I was actually getting a job
before graduation. I was the only 3L in my school who did not interview
because I already had a job."
I graduated, I packed my used 1980 Caprice Classic that I had purchased
for $400 and had a lot of miles on it. I packed all my stuff in it and
drove to Florida. It actually broke down in Bonifay, Florida, but at
least I got out of Texas!"
Holmes became an Assistant State Attorney at the SAO in July of 1982.
She remembers that Judge Ellen Morphonios, a Miami legal legend, swore
her in. Judge Morphonios then immediately made her pick two juries that
very day, even before she could go and celebrate with her proud family.
remembers the support and guidance that she received from State
Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "I remember that Kathy helped
me and she was instrumental in my growing at the SAO. I would go to her
office and she would answer all of my questions. I know that she went
to bat for me and I am grateful."
always knew that Ilona would make a great judge," said State
Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "It wasn't just that she
worked hard as an ASA and was dedicated to the craft of being a lawyer.
It had more to do with her firm grasp of the concept that the law is
intended to serve the people, not the people intended to serve the
Holmes also attended Florida Atlantic University/Florida International
University, Miami, Florida, from 1984-1987 taking courses toward a
doctorate (PhD.) in Public Administration.
served as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1991 until being
appointed to the Broward County Court bench by Governor Lawton Chiles
May 1995 until June 3, 1998, Judge Holmes served as a County Court
judge. On June 3, 1998, she was appointed to the Broward Circuit Court
assigned to the Criminal Division. Judge Holmes served in the Civil
Division of the courts from 2003-2005 and has presided over many
multi-million dollar cases.
returned to the Criminal Division in 2005 where she served as
Administrative Judge over the Criminal Division from 2008-2010.
Currently Judge Holmes is assigned to the Criminal Division presiding
in the Extended Trial Division (ETD) trying murder, sexual battery and
robbery cases of persons incarcerated more than 750 days.
Holmes is heavily involved in judicial education. She is on the Florida
Court Education Council and the Education Committee for the Conference
of Circuit Court Judges as well as being on the faculty of Florida's
Judicial Colleges for Phase I (for newly appointed and elected judges)
and Phase II ( for newly appointed judges and for judges changing
division assignments). Judge Holmes has been reappointed as the
Criminal Track Head for Florida's College of Advanced Judicial Studies
also teach at The University of Ft. Lauderdale, which is fully
accredited, and where I am also chairperson of the board of trustees."
Holmes is always involved in the community. "It is the most
rewarding thing that I do outside of the courtroom," she admits.
"I always say that unless you get involved, don't complain."
I can tell young prosecutors is to follow your passion. If you are at
the SAO, you will learn about the law and about justice. I am so glad
to know that State Attorney Fernandez Rundle has established a six week
training for new ASA's to teach them how to deliver true justice."
also want them to know that Rules are there for a reason. Follow them
because when you cut corners, you earn a reputation that you cannot
Holmes has a passion for the law and for people. When she dismisses
individuals not selected to participate in juries, she does it
personally. "I get off the bench and go outside to the hallway and
thank them for being a part of the process."
trials are concluded, Judge Holmes personally gives each juror their
certificate and shakes their hand. "Juries remember me because I
make court interesting. I teach them about the process and value the
role that they play in it."
am the only African American woman on the circuit bench in my circuit.
I tell the younger lawyers that my job has been to hold the door open
for them. And I've had to put up with a lot of stuff. I've been on the
bench for 20 years and I tell them they have to come up and take
she has had many accomplishments over the years, has received numerous
awards and is highly regarded in both the legal and overall civic
community, she remains a humble person. "I'm just a poor girl from
North Philly that God has tremendously blessed."
Battery Division Chief (DC) Laura Adams, assisted by Trial
Coordinator Charlotte Haslem, got a guilty as charged verdict in
a Kidnapping, Aggravated Child Abuse, and Sexual Battery on a
Child Less than 12 case before Judge Colodny.
State Attorneys (ASAs) Serahi Pelayo and Amanda Daniels obtained a
guilty verdict on a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) case in
front of Judge Newman.
Ethan Timmins and Shaun Quinn got a guilty verdict on a DUI case (3rd
w/in 10 years) and the defendant was sentenced to 180 days in the
county jail and a 20 year license suspension.