Articles Posted in Economic Crimes

Toilet.jpgSanchia Xavier-Velez gave birth to her daughter, Jazmyne Rayne Gowers-Velez, at home in early November. Ms. Xavier-Velez brought the infant’s body to the hospital the next morning, and reported to authorities that she gave birth to the child in a toilet, and that the child was stillborn. But police suspected that the child had been a victim of foul play.

A doctor has examined the child and found that she was breathing before she died and that she had water in her lungs – both indications that the child died by drowning. Ms. Xavier-Velez, who also has a seven year old daughter, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse. She is being held without bond in the Orange County jail. Her seven year old has been placed in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

In Florida and other States, a person, who is charged with a crime, is entitled to defend herself from the charges with legal representation by a private criminal defense attorney or, in the alternative, the public defender. Whenever there are medical issues involved, cases of this nature can be quite complicated especially when each side presents competent testimony from expert witnesses and medical providers.


Three masked men with guns broke into a Palm Bay home where five children, ranging in age from ten months to fifteen years old, were waiting for their mother to return home from the hospital with another of her children who needed stitches for an unrelated injury. The mother returned from the hospital and walked in on the gunmen shortly after they had broken in to the home and forced the children to lie down on the living room floor. After the mother arrived home, they threatened the ten month old baby with a gun, choked the eleven year old, threatened the family dog, demanded money, stole all the Christmas presents, and finally poured boiling oil on the mother and her fifteen year old daughter. The young girl is still in the hospital with third degree burns from the oil.

Police believe that the armed intruders may be acquaintances of one of the children’s uncles. The investigation is still under way. This horrific intrusion and torture is very hard to read about. You can read more about this crime and the investigation at Mom, Children Tortured In Palm Bay Home.

EmergencyPhone.jpgThousands of reports of abuse coming in on the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline are being rejected or ignored, thanks to a little known new screening practice recently undertaken by the department. Child welfare managers in Broward County, Florida, brought the new screening rules to light during a routine practice review.

The new screening procedures were put into effect to ease the burden on the overwhelmed child welfare system. The Department of Children and Families calls the new practice “necessary triage” that allows them to focus on the most at-risk children. They point to a number of frivolous complaints filed, but reports of abuse, kidnapping, rape, child abuse, neglect and domestic violence are now being routinely being labeled as “unworthy of investigation” as well. A spokesperson for the department said the new rules are a work in progress, which the department will continue to refine.

One of the new policies that was leaked to the press includes a revision of guidelines on what is considered abuse, and includes a directive to reject complaints about signs of a beating unless the child was taken to a doctor or the hospital or was permanently disfigured. This would basically rule out any signs of abuse reported by childcare workers. Child advocates are up in arms over what they call a “dangerous shortcut” that will leave many children at risk. A one year old child, Bryce Barros, has already fallen victim to the new rules; he was beaten to death by a family member even after a Broward County domestic violence judge contacted the hotline on three separate occasions on behalf of the child.

Sports%20baseball%20on%20grey%20background.jpgTwelve-year old Jennifer Valdivia was attending a Florida Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies baseball game last July when Ryan Howard hit his 200th career home run. Jennifer was lucky enough to catch the ball, but Howard apparently wanted the ball back.

A representative from the Phillies ball club approached Jennifer in the stands, and told her that if she handed over the ball, he would have Howard sign it for her and Howard would give it back to her personally after the game. After the game, Howard was nowhere to be seen, but a security guard found Jennifer and gave her ball that had been autographed by Howard – a brand new ball, not the one she had caught.

Upon learning what happened, Jennifer’s mother, Delfra Vanegas, called the Phillies and asked them to give her daughter the ball back. The Phillies did not respond until the family’s attorney sued the club for $15,000 and the ball. The Phillies then returned the ball to Jennifer, who says she has no plans to sell it.

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