A fourth person has been charged with stealing the identities of victims of the South Florida condominium collapse that killed 98 people, officials said.
Nelson Ronaldo Garcia-Medina, 20, was arrested on Wednesday, but his name was not included when Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle held a press conference this afternoon- there to announce three arrests on several counts. She then said that there could be other co-conspirators in the case.
Garcia-Medina is the brother of Betsy Alejandra Cacho-Medina, 30, who was arrested Wednesday morning along with Kimberly Michelle Johnson, 34, and Rodney Choute, 38. They each face 15 to 30 years in prison.
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Media have reported that Garcia-Medina is accused of impersonating a person killed in the Champlain South Towers collapse on June 24 to purchase a pair of Air Jordan sneakers for $ 130.
“These individuals appear to be very skilled identity thieves, they are professionals,” Fernandez Rundle said Wednesday. “With the exception of their names, almost nothing else about them seems to be true.
Authorities were first notified of possible fraudulent activity on July 9, when the sister of one of the deceased victims contacted Surfside Police, officials said. The sister had noticed password changes on the victim’s bank accounts and credit cards, as well as new addresses and contact details.
None of the new addresses were the residences of the identity thieves, officials said. The group used a series of drop-off points, investigators said, adding that it was a tactic commonly used in fraud schemes.
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Several agencies were involved in the fraud investigation, including the Miami-Dade Police, Surfside Police, Aventura Police, the US Secret Service, the US Postal Inspection Service, and the US Postal Service. of the American marshals.
Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the 40-year-old building to collapse after the first warnings of serious structural defects. The debris was cleared from the site and taken to a warehouse near Miami International Airport for examination.
Cacho-Medina, Garcia-Medina, Choute and Johnson all remained in Miami-Dade prison on Friday morning. Prison records did not list lawyers who could speak on their behalf.