Author Jerry Iannelli

lolostock-shutterstockLolostock/Shutterstock.com

You know that episode of Black Mirror where an unsuspecting teen is filmed watching porn through a hacked webcam, and then blackmailed into (spoiler) robbing a bank and murdering somebody, just so the hacker wouldn’t leak his information to his family? Turns out that sci-fi episode’s plotline is heavy on the “science” and pretty light on “fiction.

Case in point: A South Beach lawyer was charged yesterday with operating a massive porn-blackmail scheme, in which he and his cohorts would make their own porn then upload it onto the internet in places they knew it would be illegally downloaded. The feds say that lawyer, John Steele, and his team would then wait for someone to download that porn, and then blackmail them into forking over wads of cash, lest Steele reveal the victim’s porn-watching history to the world.
coffee-shop-cocaine-bustmarcusrg via Flickr Creative Commons

On September 1, a Miami-Dade County Police detective walked into Kareta Kafe on SW 40th Street in West Dade, and sat down at the bar. He ordered a beer, which the bartender happily handed over.

He then ordered $20 worth of cocaine, and the bartender gave him that, too.

According to police reports, Kareta Kafe was operating under the most aggressively South Florida business-model possible: Undercover cops say they spent two months blatantly ordering cocaine at Kareta — including one huge, $140 “eight ball” — all while calmly sipping beer, coffee, whiskey, and bottled water from the bar.
dayonte-resiles-featureIllustration by Matthew Billington

The blond corpse floats in a blood-filled bathtub.The face bobs just barely above the surface. She wears nothing but a thong. Her hands are tied with a ribbed fabric sash. The feet are bound with a beige electrical cord. Stab wounds dot her body.
Outside, egrets graze next to the canal surrounding Davie’s WestRidge development, where homes typically sell for more than $1 million. It’s one of several virtually identical subdivisions on Nob Hill Road with names such as Ridgeview Lake, Long Lake Estates, and Long Lake Ranches. All are hidden behind tall hedges and fronted by imposing guard towers. None of the residents has reported a break-in or anything else suspicious. It seems like just another serene Monday.Despite the chaos, the family dog is fast asleep.

When police arrive a little after noon, they learn the 59-year-old blonde in the bathtub is Jill Halliburton Su, whose great-uncle, Erle Halliburton, founded the oil company that still bears his name. At the time of his death in 1957, he was one of the ten richest people in the United States.

But nothing is missing from the house, so there’s no explanation for the brutal murder.

The cops have no way of knowing yet that their search for a killer will lead to many dead ends and only two real suspects: Justin Su, the murdered woman’s only son, and Dayonte Resiles, a young man with a history of burglarizing homes. Both 20 years old at the time of the killing, they hadn’t met despite growing up only 15 miles apart. One is the child of an heiress and a renowned termite scientist, the other the son of a Walmart clerk and a Haitian vodou priest. Neither has a clear motive.

On the basis of some questionable DNA evidence, Resiles will be charged with the murder. He will eventually engineer a brilliant courtroom escape, helped by a handful of teenagers with little more than high-school educations. They will somehow outsmart the police for nearly a week while Resiles is on the run.

And now, two years after the suburban housewife’s death, no one knows for sure who killed her or why.

carlos-rodriguez-half-headed-manMiami-Dade Department of Corrections

Let’s get this over with: The photo above is real, the man is alive, and his name is Carlos Rodriguez. He is 31 years old and goes by the nickname “Half Head,” and the reason is obvious. Half Head lives in Miami and got into a car accident when he was high some years ago. This forced doctors to remove part of his brain and then fuse his skull back together.

So, without a full brain, Half Head seems to have issues with impulse control and can’t keep himself out of trouble. Today he’s back in jail.

On Monday, Half Head was arrested for two felony counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree arson, according to the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections. 

ocean_beach_shootingNews Cafe Webcam

This past Sunday, a tourist from New York was gunned down on Ocean Drive around 7 a.m., just as South Beach was waking up. Shot two times outside iconic sidewalk restaurant News Cafe, the young man was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

Yesterday morning, Miami Beach Police identified the victim as Lavon B. Walker — a 30-year-old community activist who spent the last years of his life working to end gun violence in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

swanson-child-abuse-featureIllustration by Pat Kinsella

As John Wilson cooked dinner for his family in March 2010, an eerie silence filled their cozy Plantation home. Usually around 6 p.m. on a school day, the place was bustling. Four kids were asking about dinner or playingvideogames. John, a mild-mannered musician with salt-and-pepper hair and rimless glasses, figured his 4-year-old son and 10-year-old stepson were just watching TV on the couch. Hours earlier, his other stepson ­— a withdrawn, six-foot-tall, 200-pound seventh-grader named Brian — had been sent to his bedroom.

John looked around for his only daughter, 4-year-old Evie. She was nowhere to be seen. He patrolled the house, searching for the bashful little girl with blond bangs, and paused when he reached the hallway that led toward the children’s bedrooms. The second door on the right, Brian’s room, was slightly ajar. John could hear Evie’s faint, high-pitched cries: “Stop it! Please, it hurts!”

John barged in. Brian was kneeling over Evie on the bed. The preschooler was naked from the waist down, and her chubby thighs were spread open like a toy doll’s. Between them, Brian had inserted the dull wooden end of a meat skewer. John snapped and knocked Brian aside.

“What are you doing?!” he screamed.

tony-bosch-miamiU.S. District Court/Andre Carrilho

Today, Tony Bosch is a free man. After spending a little more than a year and a half in federal custody for orchestrating the biggest illegal steroid operation in pro sports history, Bosch walked out of a Miami halfway house yesterday.

So what’s next for the onetime chief of Biogenesis, which a 2014 Miami New Times investigation revealed as the source of performance-enhancing drugs for Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, and a host of other big-leaguers?

Bosch is concentrating on rebuilding his family, his attorney says — and also hopes to speak to kids about avoiding the drugs he used to peddle.

coronaPhoto by Sarah-Rose / Flickr

Beer theft is a pretty great racket. You steal beer, and then you drink it. It’s simple, it works, and even if you go to jail, your fellow inmates will probably treat you like a hero.

Miami’s most feared cerveza crook saw his reign of terror end today, though. Because the Miami Police Department very clearly has its priorities in order, MPD announced this afternoon that it has arrested a “notorious beer bandit,” just in time to protect South Florida’s very vulnerable stashes of Labor Day booze from getting seized. Here’s to the labor movement!

fiu-student-facebook-stalkingPhoto by Christopher / Flickr

Facebook friend requests from strangers almost always turn out to be bad news. In the best-case scenario, some weird guy from Turkmenistan insults your sister’s prom photos. In the worst-case: Someone creates a fake account, discovers hidden info about your past, and then threatens to release that information or kill you if you don’t pony up thousands of dollars.

That’s exactly what a former FIU student did to an anonymous California college student who had a secret past as a porn star. Now, the FIU student is headed to prison after trying to use that info to extort tens of thousands of dollars.

In June 2015, federal authorities say the California student, listed only as “S.B.” in court records, received a strange friend request from a former U.S. Marine named “Giovani.” But when S.B. accepted Giovani’s friend request, things turned ugly: “Giovani” was actually a 23-year-old Florida International University criminal-justice student named Kassandra Cruz, who’d discovered that S.B. had secretly dabbled in porn years ago.

Cruz immediately began to threaten her: She’d expose that secret to S.B.’s family and employer, she promised — and even threatened to kill her — unless S.B. coughed up $100,000.

kinsey_harrouff

When Martin County Police arrived Monday to find 19-year-old Austin Harrouff standing over the bodies of two bleeding victims while violently biting one man’s face, police first fired stun guns. When those didn’t work, cops unleashed a dog. When that didn’t work, three officers pulled Harrouff off the man and took him to jail — alive.

Some activists are drawing a stark contrast between that approach and those employed in other recent police actions in South Florida. Take, for instance, the July incident when North Miami cops sent a SWAT team with military-style assault rifles to surround unarmed African-American behavior therapist Charles Kinsey, who was trying to help an autistic man “armed” with a toy car. Police shot Kinsey in the leg, although video showed him lying on the ground with his hands up.

Critics say Harrouff’s treatment highlights the vast disparity between how whites and blacks are treated by police. After all, Florida cops were able to take calm, measured steps to subdue a white, possibly drug-addled cannibal armed with a knife and no shirt, but somehow felt it was necessary to shoot Kinsey — who was cooperating and unarmed — from afar.

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