<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:08:08 -0500 Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:08:08 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBC 6 Investigates Online Diplomas]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:14:22 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/nationhighschooldiploma111214.jpg

Getting an online high school diploma might sound like a good idea, if it weren’t for the fact that you could get a diploma that is not worth the paper it is printed on.

NBC 6 Investigators decided to find out just how far a high school diploma from an online school would get you.

First, an NBC 6 Investigative producer paid $239 to Nation High School to obtain the diploma. Instead of having to take classes, the company converted her “life experience” into three semesters of classes and credits.

A week later, the diploma and transcripts from MaryGrand High School, a Nation High affiliate, arrived in the mail. The newly “graduated” producer took the diploma and transcripts to Barry University, Broward College and Miami Dade College where she encountered one rejection after another.

Annaleah Morrow, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, said if a company demands payment upfront, that’s a big red flag.

“Students need to remember that when they were in high school, they were expected to work hard for their high school diploma,” Morrow said. “Online high school should be no different.

NBC 6 Investigators asked college admissions officials to review the diploma and transcripts.

Morrow said her first thought when she saw the diploma was clear: “…That this could have easily been printed by anyone with a nice color printer.”

Sarah Riley, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Barry University, also said the diploma is worthless.

“There’s no validation of four years of high school,” Riley said. “You need four years of English, math, science, social sciences as well as foreign language education.”

Further examination by college officials turned up another clue that the documents were bogus. Neither the diploma nor the transcripts had the school’s contact information or website url.

What consumers don’t know is Nation High and its affiliates have hundreds of unsatisfied customers who have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. They say by complaining they found out the hard way that despite what the website leads consumers to believe, the school is not accredited by any organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Experts say they are nothing more than diploma mills and it’s a billion-dollar industry. Still, no federal or state agency regulates online schools so it’s impossible to know how many exist.

In 2010, Susan Knodel thought she was dealing with an accredited online high school when she enrolled her two teens in Nation High. Soon, the Knodels became one of the hundreds of families who had negative experiences with Nation High and its affiliates because they got worthless diplomas or no diploma at all.

“I asked for my money back and they won’t give me my money back,” Knodel said, noting that she paid Nation High more than $2,900.

NBC 6 Investigators called Mary Grand High twice in an attempt to obtain an explanation. The online school refunded the $239 fee for the diploma after the producer said she worked for NBC.

However, no one at Mary Grand High would explain why three colleges in South Florida rejected the diploma and transcripts. When she called to ask, the folks at Mary Grand High hung up on her twice.

<![CDATA[Woman Gets 15 Years in Prison in Fatal DUI Case]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:43:03 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Rosa+Rivera+Kim+BSO.jpg

A woman who struck and killed a pregnant woman in Fort Lauderdale was sentenced to 15 years behind bars Friday.

Rosa Rivera Kim, 37, will also serve 15 years of probation and will have to pay restitution of $7,583, a judge ordered. It was also revealed Friday that Kim is five-months pregnant herself.

Rivera Kim was facing charges including two counts of DUI manslaughter and DUI property damage in the March 2012 crash that killed 26-year-old Alanna Demella at the Riverside Hotel on East Las Olas Boulevard.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Rivera Kim mostly kept her head down and wept at times, as a psychiatrist recounted her tough childhood, saying she suffers from PTSD and a multiple personality disorder.

"The stepbrother reported that his stepfather got drunk on a consistent basis," Dr. Stephen Gold said.

According to police, Rivera Kim was driving westbound in the 600 block of Southeast 4th Street when she lost control of her car, veering off the road and into the cabana at the Riverside Hotel.

Rivera Kim's car struck and killed Demella, a Medford, Mass. resident who was seven months pregnant, according to a report.

Officials said Rivera Kim’s toxicology results revealed she was driving under the influence of alcohol and three times over the legal limit.

According to an arrest affidavit, Rivera Kim told police she was having lunch with her husband prior to the crash and had ordered an alcoholic drink. She admitted to getting into an argument with her husband that day and leaving the restaurant alone in a 2006 Audi sedan, the report said.

Police said Rivera Kim's car was traveling in excess of the 25 mph speed limit when she crossed over the east lane, over the sidewalk curb and plowed into Demella.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA["Selma" Stars March in Alabama Honoring MLK]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:26:01 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP240278318675.jpg

Oprah Winfrey and fellow actors from the movie "Selma" marched with hundreds in a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., one of many events around the nation ushering in Monday's federal holiday for the slain civil rights leader.

Remembrances of the King legacy come amid somber reflection by many on incidents in which unarmed black men were killed by police in recent months, spurring protests and heightening tensions in the U.S. In Ferguson, Mo., where one fatal shooting caused weeks of violent protests, leaders urged reforms to the criminal justice system in the name of equality.

"We need to be outraged when local law enforcement and the justice system repeatedly allow young, unarmed black men to encounter police and then wind up dead with no consequences," said U.S. Rep. William Clay, a St. Louis Democrat. "Not just in Ferguson, but over and over again across this country."

The King holiday, meanwhile, was being met with activities nationwide, including plans for a wreath-laying in Maryland, a tribute breakfast in Boston and volunteer service activities by churches and community groups in Illinois. In South Carolina, civil rights leaders readied for their biggest rally of the year.

Winfrey helped lead a march by hundreds on Sunday with "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo, who played King in the movie.

"Selma" chronicled turbulent events leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the subsequent passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Winfrey played activist Annie Lee Cooper in the movie, which was nominated for two Oscars, in categories of best picture and best original song.

A producer on the film, Winfrey praised the 1965 marchers for their courage in meeting fierce opposition on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma — scene of Sunday's remembrance march.

"Look at what they were able to do with so little, and look at how we now have so much," Winfrey said. "If they could do that, imagine what now can be accomplished with the opportunity through social media and connection, the opportunity through understanding that absolutely we are more alike than we are different."

White officers used clubs and tear gas on March 7, 1965 — "Bloody Sunday" — to rout marchers intent on walking some 50 miles to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, to seek the right for blacks to register to vote. King led a new march later that month that reached Montgomery, with the crowd swelling to 25,000.

Elsewhere, King's legacy was being celebrated with days of events in Atlanta, especially at the church he once pastored. The current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, said the annual King holiday is a time when "all of God's children are busy spreading the message of freedom and justice."

On Monday, Oyelowo planned to deliver a holiday tribute to King at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where church members over the weekend sang the civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."

Calls for unity were heard during the events surrounding the King holiday.

During Sunday's march in Selma, Common and John Legend performed their Oscar-nominated song "Glory" from the film as marchers crested the top of the bridge as the sun set. Common had a part in the movie and said that song sought to show the link between the struggle of the past and today's injustices.

"We are the ones that can change the world," Common said afterward. "It is up to us, and it takes all us — black, white, Latino, Asian, native-American, whatever nationality or religious background. There is a certain togetherness that we've got to have."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Video Shows Teens Hours Before Fatal Crash]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:53:06 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/joeyianzano.jpg

A cell phone video released to NBC 6 Friday showed the moments leading up to a car crash that killed 19-year-old Joey Ianzano last year.

Ianzano and his best friend Patricio Arias Verdial were partying at a Brad Paisely concert last August 16th and professed how much fun they were having in the cell phone video released Friday. In the video, a person is heard saying they don’t “know how drunk I am, it’s like my 10th beer.”

Hours after the video was made, Patricio got into his Ford Mustang to leave Joey’s house. Witnesses said Joey grabbed onto the car’s spoiler in an attempt to stop his friend from driving. Patricio’s car crashed down the block and Joey flew off the back and was killed.

Patricio has since been charged with DUI manslaughter and was in court this month. His lawyer said Patricio was sober when the accident happened and it’s nothing more than a tragic accident.

“This case is an accident, nothing more, nothing less,” lawyer Eric Schwarztreich said. “I think when the state really looks at the case; they’ll have difficulty proving the cause and elements of this case. The victim jumped on the back of his car, my client had no way of knowing that he was in back of the car.”

Court documents show Verdial’s blood alcohol level was nearly two times the legal limit on the night of the accident. Schwartzreich said Verdial is crushed about the accident to this day.

“He’s sad, withdrawn; his whole life is flashing before him because he’s facing consequences. Consequences when the state says this is manslaughter,” Schwartzreich said.

Verdial’s trial is scheduled to start in March, though his lawyer said it will likely be pushed back later in the year.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Brian Tyms Took Unlikely Path to Super Bowl XLIX]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:58:57 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/briantyms013015.jpg

New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms may not play a down in Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, but him even being at the game is a testament to his heart and dedication in the midst of chaos.

Tyms’ parents were drug-addicts and he said abused him from a young age. He was removed from his home by DCF at the age of 12 and he was placed in a foster home in Pembroke Pines. It was in that home where his foster father, Peter Pender, a teacher at Dillard High School, got Brian to start playing football.

At first, Brian never imagined the game he was playing would really take him anywhere.

“When I was playing high school football, my senior year, I wasn’t really thinking about going to the NFL. I was just playing it to stay out of trouble,” Tyms told NBC 6’s Adam Kuperstein about his start in football.

After high school, Tyms split from his foster-parents and said he was hard-headed and needed to mature. Tyms ended up living in his 1994 Lexus on the streets of South Florida and was working at McDonald’s.

“Shoot, that car I was living in, you know what I’m saying, I ain’t trying to go back to that,” Tyms said of his journey. “So I grind and I hustle.”

Around the time he was living in his car, he decided to get away from South Florida and enrolled at Tallahassee Community College. His talents on the field help him get recruited to Florida A&M University where he excelled as a wide receiver.

NFL scouts took notice and soon he was getting his shot in the NFL. But even that didn’t come easy for Tyms. He was cut by the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and then the Miami Dolphins couldn’t find room on the roster for him. But last summer, his life changed again.

The New England Patriots signed the 6’3” receiver and he made the team. He even caught his first career touchdown pass this year, a 43-yard reception on a pass thrown by future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

While that might be the end of the story for some, Tyms said everything in his past is driving him today to even greater heights.

“I went from dead broke, you know, to come up, you know what I mean,” Tyms said. “So I think about it every day. Every morning I wake up, if I don’t feel like moving; I think about where I was.”

And on the eve of the biggest game a professional football player will ever see, Tyms will have his own family, fiancé Christal and his two young children in Arizona to cheer on their dad and the New England Patriots.

“Everything I didn’t have I try to give it to them,” Tyms told NBC 6. “All the love I couldn’t get; I give to them. I just try to make it so they don’t have any worries at all. They’ll never have to see what I went through.”

The only thing that will be missing from Tyms’ Sunday will be his foster parents. Kuperstein talked with the family in South Florida and they said it was just too expensive to get to the game. However, they are looking forward to getting together after the big game to celebrate a Patriots victory.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Teen on Skateboard Hit by Car in Deerfield Beach]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:55:27 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/deerfieldaccident013015.jpg

A 13-year-old riding his skateboard in Deerfield Beach was hit by a car as he tried to cross the street Friday evening.

The accident happened near the intersection of NE 3rd Avenue and 44th Court in Deerfield Beach. Friends of the teenager, Jimmy Jeanjaques, who is a seventh grade student at a nearby school, said he was crossing the street to meet his friends to go see a movie.

A man living nearby ran to the scene of the accident and told NBC 6 Jeanjaques appeared to have suffered serious injuries, but was able to move his arms and legs.

"I'm afraid. I'm scared. I don't want nothing and to happen to that boy. He's like a son," said witness Andy Soriano. "He was laying down over here bleeding, you know, his face was all covered in blood and everything I was kind of sad seeing him like this."

The teen was airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center, but his condition hasn’t been released. His sister, who asked not to be identified, said the teen can talk, but can't move his neck.

The driver of the car remained on the scene of the crash and was speaking with police.

<![CDATA[Why the Patriots — or the Seahawks — Will Win]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:05:08 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/byllnbradee.jpg

Both the Seahawks and Patriots have won Super Bowls before. So who will win Super Bowl XLIX Sunday in Glendale, Arizona? A case can be made for both:

Why the Patriots could win

It’s a dynasty. New England has won three Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, which qualifies for as much of a dynasty as the NFL has right now. The coach and QB have come up big when it counts before, so they’ll find a way to win a fourth.

The “evil genius” factor. Belichick may not be well-liked these days (or maybe ever), but he’s found a way to reach five of these championship games and win three. The personnel has turned over and the staff has changed, but Belichick knows his Xs and Os and is known for figuring out ways to limit the effectiveness of his opponents’ best players. Certainly he’ll come up with something special to stop Marshawn Lynch and limit Russell Wilson’s impact as a runner.

LeGarrette Blount. Since the running back joined New England after his release by the Steelers in November, the Pats’ running game has had an explosive, workhorse ballcarrier to keep defenses honest. If the Seahawks defense spreads out and focuses its efforts on stopping tight end Rob Gronkowski or wideout Julian Edelman, Blount should be able to gash them with power runs.

Special teams superiority. Both teams are solid in all areas, but New England’s punt-return, kick coverage and field-goal blocking abilities are a tick better. One big play could be the difference.

Brady-to-Gronkowski. The passing combination may be the hardest to stop in the NFL when Gronk is healthy, and he’s been healthy and very productive.

Why the Seahawks could win 

Karma. The flip side to the “evil genius” factor. The Patriots have been caught bending the rules before, so the whole “Deflategate” scandal from the AFC Championship Game is just the latest chapter. Remember, the Patriots went into Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, trying to complete an undefeated season, when they were upset by the Giants -- after the whole “Spygate” controversy first surfaced. That was Karma I. This could be Karma II.

Pete Carroll. The Seattle head coach has managed to get his team to peak at the right time for two seasons now. The Seahawks play hard for him, and Carroll’s defense was No. 1 overall and No. 1 vs. the pass this season. After surviving a scare against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, all the mojo is on the side of Seattle's upbeat coach.

Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety will be the man tasked with containing Gronkowski, and he seems ideally suited for the job. He’s big, strong and athletic and should be up to the task. If Seattle can take away Brady’s No. 1 target, the Pats will be playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ young quarterback just wins. He’s not the best passer in the league -- until crunch time. Then he simply finds a way to make plays with his arm and his feet. He has a 6-1 playoff record, including five straight wins. In a meeting of the teams in 2012, Wilson led two late touchdown drives as the Seahawks pulled out a comeback victory.

Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks can get “Beast Mode” in gear early, they can control the game’s tempo. And it will help open up other avenues for the Seattle offense. Plus, after a week of Lynch vs. media shenanigans leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be perfect for Lynch to win the MVP award and get yet another chance to be interviewed on national TV? “I’m just here so I won't get fined… and to get my trophy.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ferret Rumors Swirl in Baby Mauling]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:17:12 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Child+Ferret+Attack+Parents+Fraim.jpg

Speculation about whether a trio of ferrets were responsible for the mauling of a 1-month-old girl in a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, home last week have been running rampant since the attack — but police are shooting down the rumors, saying clear evidence points to the ferrets.

Skyy Fraim was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this week after undergoing emergency surgery following the Jan. 21 attack, police said on Friday. The girl’s nose and part of her cheek were eaten away, while her upper lip was shredded.

The baby’s mother, Jessica Benales, was upstairs using the restroom when the mauling happened. She came down to find at least one of the ferrets attacking the child and pulled the animal off the girl, who was strapped into a car seat on the floor of the family’s Darby home.

Benales, 24, and her 42-year-old fiancé, Burnie Fraim, told police they believed the ferrets somehow broke out of their mesh pen.

But despite the accounts by police and the child's parents of the mauling, some ferret owners and shelter operators told NBC10 the animals could not have inflicted such severe injuries on the child.

Others claimed a necropsy found no human tissue in the animal’s stomach — but necropsies were not performed on the ferrets, Delaware County Animal Control said, so that cannot be known. After the animals were euthanized, a rabies test was performed and came back negative.

A staffer said necropsies are hardly ever performed by the agency and were not in this case because the mother witnessed part of the attack.

Still, the necropsies are unnecessary, says Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe. There is clear evidence that the ferrets were responsible for the mauling, he told NBC10.

“I would refute what they are saying because of physical evidence that was inside the building and that was on the child’s face,” he said.

Skyy Fraim had puncture wounds on her head consistent with a ferret’s teeth and claws, Smythe said. Detectives looked at the family’s other pets and the possibility that a rodent was responsible, but those possibilities were ruled out. It also appeared the ferrets roamed the home, which authorities said was filthy, and broke into pet food.

Benales and Fraim, who have four other children age 5 or younger, have each been charged with five counts of child endangerment. The children have been removed from their parents' care and are currently with the Delaware County Children and Youth Services.

Authorities said the children and parents all have special needs and have been under the care of three social service agencies. 

In addition to the ferrets, the family had six cats and two turtles. Two dogs had previously been removed from the home.

Seven case workers were assigned to the family, Smythe said. He questioned how nothing had been done to improve the family’s quality of life and remove the animals.

“It’s a family in crisis,” he said. “I believe they’re people that have issues and problems and the system is not working.”

Prior to being charged, Fraim told NBC10 that he and his fiancé care for the children.

“We’re good parents. It’s just we made one mistake by leaving them alone. We regret it, and we blame ourselves for it,” he said. The 1-month-old will need to undergo several surgeries to repair the damage done in the attack, the father added.

Smythe said a district court judge disregarded a bail recommendation that included a psychological evaluation and instead released the couple on their own recognizance. They are barred from having contact with the children.

A court date has yet to be set in the case.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: NBC10/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Police Fight Back Against Waze App]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:41:35 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/wazepolicelocation012915.jpg

Roughly 50 million users turn on the Waze mapping app to help them get through heavy traffic in cities across the country. But one part of the app that user point out on maps has police officers crying foul.

“It puts us at risk, puts the public at risk, because it’s going to cause more deadly force encounters between law enforcement and suspects,” Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.

Sgt. Ortiz is taking issue with the app because it allows users to identify where police officers are on the road. It’s a 21st century method of drivers flashing their lights at each other to identify a speed trap.

But police in Miami had a novel way of fighting back against Waze, which is owned by Google. Hundreds of officers downloaded the app to try and steer the data in the wrong direction.

NBC 6’s Jamie Guirola put the app to the test Thursday night and it yielded the exact location of an officer when NBC 6’s cameras passed by the location identified on the map.

Waze’s developers told NBC 6 that, “Police partners support Waze and its features, including reports of police presence, because most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby.”

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he doesn’t buy the claims that the app threatens the safety of his officers.

“If someone is suffering mental illness and they want to commit a heinous crime or hunt a deputy or a police officer; they don’t need Waze to do that,” Sheriff Israel said.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead, 22 Injured in Hayride Flip]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 21:42:42 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/pumpkinland+maine.jpg

A hayride flipped over at a Halloween attraction in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Saturday, killing one teen and injuring 22 others.

The Maine Sate Fire Marshal's office confirms one person, a 17-year-old girl, died as a result of her injuries.

They say that two others, including the driver and a teenage boy, were seriously injured; however, they are expected to survive.

In addition, 15 people were taken to Central Maine Medical Center, seven were taken to St. Mary's in Lewiston, and one person was taken to Maine Medical Center, according to the State Fire Marshal. One child was later sent to a Boston hospital for treatment, according to WCSH.

Scott Lansley, a Harvest Hill spokesperson, says the two most serious injuries were sustained by employees. 

Authorities say a small jeep pulling a flatbed trailer missed a turn on a steep dirt road and jack-knifed. The jeep went off the road and the trailer hit a tree, sending riders tumbling to the ground. 

Investigators say a mechanical problem with the jeep may have caused the driver to lose control. State Police will inspect the vehicle.

The Maine State Fire Marshal is required to inspect and license mechanical amusement rides in the state, but hayrides do not require such licensing.

Lansley said Sunday morning that the operator is an experienced truck driver.

Harvest Hill Farms/Pumpkin Land posted the following message on its Facebook page around 10 p.m. Saturday night:

"Emergency crews are on-site now at our Gauntlet Night Ride as there was an accident with one of the wagons. We will keep you posted."

Around 11 p.m., the farm posted the following update:

"Emergency crews are on site and Life Flight was called in to transport those needing urgent care. The accident occurred at the Gauntlet Haunted Night ride, a separate venue from Pumpkin Land, our daytime Family Fall venue. However Pumpkin Land will be closed Sunday while authorities investigate the accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured."

Several people who were at the Halloween attraction or had loved ones there on Saturday night posted messages as well. 

"My bestie and our lil girls were a few rides before this tractor. So sad," said Alexis Caron.

"My family was minutes away from this...a couple tractors ahead," said Patty Ann Keene. Thinking of everyone involved."

"My son and his pregnant girlfriend and a bunch of their friends were on that ride," said Penny Peare. "Thank God they are okay."

The Portland Fire Department posted the following message on Twitter on Saturday night:

"Thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, and the emergency crews operating at a MCI in Mechanic Falls, ME"

Mechanic Falls is about 30 miles north of Portland. 

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Rescue Dog in LA River]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:41:41 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/200*120/1-30-15-lucky+the+dog+la+river+rescue+ground.JPG

A dog struggling to keep its head above water in the roiling Los Angeles river was hoisted to safety in a heroic aerial rescue Friday afternoon.

The dog was spotted in the water at 3:45 p.m. Friday in Toluca Lake near the Barham Boulevard overpass of the river, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. 

It was swept miles downriver and saved in Glendale, near the Golden State (5) Freeway overpass. Since firefighters didn't see a name tag, they named the pup Lucky.

The dog was first thought to be a yellow Labrador retriever, but the shelter where it was taken after the rescue said Lucky is a Shiba Inu. The 7-year-old pup, who was not microchipped, will be taken to a vet.

The dog was in the river after a sudden thunderstorm in the San Fernando Valley flooded the river.


Photo Credit: Mark James]]>
<![CDATA[Married CA Cops Sentenced 3 Years ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:52:54 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/bryce+jennifer+charpentier.jpg

Two married San Diego Police officers convicted of drug sales and burglary charges were sentenced to three years in state prison in a downtown courtroom Friday.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD in November. Jennifer also lost partial custody of her kids after her arrest.

In court Friday, Bryce was teary as he apologized to the department and his family. The prosecution, however, called him "manipulative."

In an attempt to argue against jail time, the defense said the two never used their authority status and witnesses did not know they were cops. They also said the two have gotten clean and are active in 12-step programs, and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to their actions.

Prosecutors asked for maximum sentences for both, saying other officers who suffer addiction and PTSD don't start distribution labs.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference following the sentencing that "no one is above the law."

"As police officers, their job was to protect the citizens of San Diego; not to victimize them," she said.

Both officers initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their pleas after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also spoke out about the case saying, "It is reprehensible that these two former officers made the terrible decision to betray and discredit our badge and our profession."

Zimmerman said after the launch of the Sheriff's Department's investigation, she and her department cooperated fully and "the public trust is too important for anything less."

Sheriff Bill Gore joined Dumanis and Zimmerman at the press conference.

"I know I speak for everyone up here today when I say that we'd rather be up here for almost any other reason than to discuss the sentencing and prosecution of law enforcement officers," Gore said.

He said he thinks the collaborative efforts between SDPD and the sheriff's office were successful, adding, "It's been said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."

Search warrants said Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce went as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

One victim was Jennifer's own mother. During a visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

Before the couple's sentencing, Jennifer said she and her mom have worked things out and her mom wrote a letter to the court.

The judge said she gave probation serious consideration, but the case does not involve simple street corner drug sales, and denied the motion. However, the two are out of custody until Feb. 6 and will only serve 50 percent of their sentence on good behavior.

The couple was also ordered to pay $5,000 each in restitution.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

Photo Credit: San Diego Police Dept. Yearbook]]>
<![CDATA[What Does the Disneyland Measles Outbreak Mean?]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:41:35 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/MEASLES1.JPG

The outbreak of measles at Disneyland in Orange County, California, has reignited the debate over the anti-vaccination movement, driven by parents who question whether vaccines are safe and and whether there is a connection to autism in particular.

Medical experts say the study showing such a link has been repeatedly discredited and other parents counter their children are being endangered by irresponsible behavior.

Arizona, meanwhile, is monitoring more than 1,000 people who might have been exposed as thousands begin arriving for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Here’s what you should know.

How many people are affected?

Sixty-eight people have reported contracting measles as a result of the outbreak that began at Disneyland, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of the children and adults who became ill either had not been inoculated or did not know if they had been, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working,” she told reporters this week. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

Since 2000, measles has been eliminated in the United States, meaning it is no longer native to the country. But it can still be spread by someone infected elsewhere and the CDC is assuming that is what happened at Disneyland.

How widespread is measles?

Each year there are 20 million cases around the world, and 145,000 people die, according to the CDC. Other complications: encephalitis and pneumonia.

Last year, there were a record number of measles in the United States, 644 cases, up from a median of 60 a year over the previous decade. And this January a total of 84 cases in 14 states were reported, more than what was typical in an entire year.

Those numbers pale compared to the average number of cases reported each year before the vaccine became available: 549,000.

Is there reason to worry?

The CDC's Schuchat said the numbers for January were concerning.

"I want to do everything possible to prevent measles from getting a foothold in the United States and becoming endemic again," she said.

Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said he thought the country was a long way from returning to the high number of measles cases and other diseases.

"If enough people are not taking these vaccines, we will see a resurgence, but right now these are fairly small events," he said. "So I think the reason everyone pays attention to it in medical and public health communities is simply because this is not a trend you would like to see really going up."

How high are vaccination rates?

Immunization rates remain high despite the attention the measles outbreak is receiving. Among kindergartners enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year, the median vaccination coverage was 93 percent and higher for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and chicken pox.

To provide what is called herd immunity -- to protect people who cannot be immunization and those for whom the vaccines are not effective -- experts recommend that between 90 and 95 percent of a community be fully inoculated. Health officials are worried about pockets of parents who are rejecting inoculation.

Morse said the control of a disease such as measles was hard won.

"When we actually had these diseases among us people feared them or at least really wanted a vaccine," he said. "Now of course we’re much more blasé, which is a mistake."

What is the reaction from parents worried about vaccines?

Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates allowing parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children, said that it was premature to point fingers at those who decided to forgo vaccines.

"There is no question that there is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on parents who are making informed vaccine decisions for their children," she said. "I think this has gone way too far. The discussion has gotten very ugly, it has gotten extremely polarized and it's caused a lot of parents to be very afraid of doctors and public health officials."

Less than 1.8 percent of children attending kindergarten have vaccination exceptions, she noted. Less than 1 percent of children under the age of 3 are unvaccinated, she said.

What about other diseases?

Mumps, rubella, pertussis or whooping cough and chickenpox are among others that could also spike if parents continue to forgo vaccinations, experts say.

“This isn’t just a measles problem,” said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, the director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. “This is a problem for any transmissible disease for which we have safe and effective vaccines that aren’t unfortunately used.”

Measles is especially contagious, but there have been other outbreaks. Mumps, for example, is no longer common in the United States, with only 229 cases reported in 2012 compared to 186,000 cases each year before the mumps vaccination program began in 1967. But in 2009-2010, there were two large outbreaks, according to the CDC: one among mostly Hasidic Jewish children in New York who were delaying immunization, and another among mostly school aged children in Guam.

<![CDATA[Critical Mass Comes a Week After Cyclist's Death]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:00:34 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/fiesta+island+cyclists.jpg

Hundreds and possibly thousands of cyclists went out on their monthly critical mass ride around the city. But Friday’s ride came with a heavy heart for many riders as they remembered one of their own who died while cycling last week.

Police said Alejandro Alvarez, 21, admitted to crashing into Walter Reyes on the Rickenbacker Causeway last week. Another cyclist, Henry Hernandez, was also hit by Alvarez’s car and sustained serious injuries. Alvarez has since been charged with DUI manslaughter for the accident.

“The only thing different we would like to do is dedicate this ride to Walter,” said Chaunce O’Connor, the critical mass safety coordinator.

“I’m sure a lot of people will be talking about it because we do stick together and we feel bad of course for such a tragedy,” said Lee Marks of the bicycle pedestrian advisory committee.

O’Connor said he has been the victim of reckless driving while cycling. He’s currently in a wheelchair recovering from a cycling injury and said he’s coordinating the safety and first aid for critical mass to help his fellow riders.

“Being hit by a car and almost losing my life doing what I love; I can understand hot it must be,” O’Connor said. “But no matter what I say or do, we can’t bring him back.”

Marks said the group is going to keep coming back to Key Biscayne and keep riding. They hope the calls for lower speed limits, narrow lanes, and other safety improvements will eventually be heard.

“These are all safety improvements that will help hopefully avoid a future tragedy,” Marks said.

<![CDATA[Missing Person Linked to Body in Car in Canal]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:16:42 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/012915+car+in+canal+2.jpg

A missing person report may be the key to identifying a body found inside an SUV that was discovered submerged in a Miami-Dade canal.

Nelson Ruiz, 50, was last seen on January 9, and authorities say the Honda Pilot found Thursday is related to his case.

A water management crew was cleaning a canal off Okeechobee Road near Krome Avenue when they spotted the SUV upside down in the water, then immediately called police.

According to the report Ruiz lived with his elderly mother in Hialeah, caring for her needs and her daily medication. It said he would not leave without notifying his sister.

Authorities towed the SUV, with the body inside, to the medical examiners office. Investigators there will confirm the identification and determine a cause of death.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

<![CDATA[NYC Cops Save Beaten Puppy in Snow]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:03:23 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dog+beaten+arrest.jpg

A 43-year-old Bronx man was arrested for allegedly punching a 6-month-old pit bull and beating it with a shovel, then burying it in the snow so deep only its head was visible, authorities say.

Police responded to a 911 call about a dog being abused shortly before 3 a.m. Friday and found the pooch, which appears to be a pit bull, buried in the snow on 167th Street. Only its head was visible.

Officers pulled the pup out of the snow and saw signs of mistreatment and abuse. It apparently The dog, a female named Hennessy, was taken to the ASPCA in Manhattan for treatment.

About an hour later, police arrested Raul Cruz, who witnesses had identified as the alleged dog abuser, not far from where they rescued the pup.

He was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing, injuring or not feeding an animal. It wasn't clear if Cruz had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[One Shot in Little Haiti]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:33:30 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/little+haiti+shooting1.jpg

A man was injured in a shooting late Thursday night in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami.

The gunshot victim was taken to Jackson Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night in critical condition, according to Miami Fire Rescue. The shooting happened outside a home located at 5426 NW 1st Place in Little Haiti.

A witness says he heard several shots ring out just before midnight from the house where a gathering may have been taking place at the time. The witness also says there are several children who live and play nearby, as there are children's toys and a stroller strewn about in the yard of that house.

Investigators were on the scene interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence.

The identity of the shooter is not yet known.  Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[2 Teens Charged in Cooper City Burglaries]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:17:27 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/britogomezmugshot013015.jpg

Two teenagers face multiple charges after they allegedly stole goods from five Cooper City homes worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Joel Brito, 18, and John Gomez, 18, both face charges of unarmed burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property for the crimes. Both are accused of the thefts which happened earlier this month off Stirling Road in Cooper City.

Brito and Gomez allegedly made off with items including an Xbox, laptop computers, jewelry, passports, and other items from the victims’ homes. The two would then allegedly sell the items to another party that wasn’t identified in the arrest affidavits.

Brito’s bond was set at $34,000 and Gomez’s bond was set at $33,000.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Reward in Hit-and-Run That Left Soldier Hospitalized]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:00:16 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/013015+richard+parsons.jpg

Family members are hoping an increased reward will help lead them to a driver who struck a U.S. Army reservist in Miami and fled the scene.

Richard Parsons, 22, was crossing Northwest 79th Street at Northwest 32nd Avenue Wednesday afternoon when he was struck by a Lincoln, which fled the scene.

Parsons was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital with a broken leg and other injuries.

"He remembers waking up, he tried to move but he was in so much pain he started screaming," mother Rene Moore said. "That's all he remembers."

Parsons still has swelling in his brain and was in surgery Friday, Moore said.

Moore said Parsons, who has spent a year as an Army reservist, was heading to a job interview when he was struck.

Parsons' family and friends held a news conference Friday to say they're doubling the reward in the case to $2,000.

"I get sick because I can't do anything to help him or ease the pain," she said. "I've never really seen him cry."

Police are investigating the incident and are asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Parsons Family]]>
<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:04:25 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Goodell Non-Committal on S. Florida Super Bowl]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:45:45 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/462526376.jpg

Several years after he told South Florida that without major renovations to Sun Life Stadium, the Super Bowl won’t be coming back; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is set to return to South Florida to get a first-hand look at the construction and talk to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

NBC 6’s Adam Kuperstein talked to Goodell Friday as the NFL puts the final preparations on Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona. Kuperstein asked Goodell if he was pleased with the renovations and the commissioner said he wants to see the construction in person first which he will do in the next two weeks.

So does that mean South Florida could be in the running again to host another Super Bowl?

Goodell was non-committal, but left the door open to the big game returning to Sun Life Stadium in 2019 or 2020.

“I think the (stadium) improvements are an important element of it,” Goodell said of South Florida’s chances to host the Super Bowl.

South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Bareto told Kuperstein that he is very confident with the changes to Sun Life, the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl will once again come back to Miami.

Goodell was part of the catalyst to get improvements to Sun Life. In 2010, the last year Miami hosted a Super Bowl, Goodell warned the area that without a renovated stadium the Super Bowl wouldn’t return to the area.

That set off several years of negotiations for public money to help renovate, which failed, and culminated in a deal that will see the Dolphins get several million in public funds for each large event, like a Super Bowl, the team can bring to the stadium.

In return, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross agreed to take on the cost of the renovations to Sun Life Stadium which will eventually include a roof over most of the fans among other improvements.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Police K-9 Dogs Get Bulletproof Vests]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:18:11 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/013015+miami+police+k-9+bulletproof+vests.jpg

If police dogs have to hunt down bad guys the same way their commanding officers do then they should get the same protection right?

At the Miami Police Department they now do, thanks to new K-9 bulletproof vests.

The vests are bulletproof, stab proof, light weight and form fitting, because when these dogs go after the suspects for the take down, they can’t be weighed down or held back by anything.

“Hopefully not but if he ever gets into that situation where someone tries to use a weapon against him, the vest will do its job," K-9 officer Marc Redando said.

Redando, who works with K-9 partner Red says he’s so happy about the vest because suspects have already tried to hurt Red.

"They’ve tried hitting him, kicking him, punching him," he said.

That’s why he wants to give a big shout out to Pet Armor, the company who donated all the money to buy each dog in the department one of the vests. With 19 dogs and at $950 a pop they weren't cheap.

"Yeah, thanks to the company, it's just awesome they’re doing this for us," he said.

Redando said Red was trained in the French language and will listen to every command he tells him. And if anyone needs a vest it’s Red, he will not stop until he's told to.

“He doesn't quit, he has that no give up attitude and he won’t stop until I tell him to and he does his job very well and he loves it," Redando said.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[SWAT Standoff for Man With Gun on Roof Ends ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:42:48 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/013015+man+with+gun+on+roof+lake+worth.jpg

Deputies and a SWAT team responded to gunman on a roof in Lake Worth Friday afternoon.

Authorities responded to calls of a mentally unstable man who fired a shot in the air in the 1700 block of South Federal Highway around 12:20 p.m., WPTV reported.

He was taken into custody following a standoff and was being evaluated by medical personnel.

The man, identified as 33-year-old Leroy Struthers, mentioned harming himself but no injuries were reported, officials said.

The surrounding area was evacuated as Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies, fire rescue units and a SWAT team responded.

Photo Credit: WPTV]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Video Released in Sunrise Bus Stabbing]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:12:58 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/013015+broward+bus+stabbing+sunrise.jpg

Shocking video of a stabbing on a Broward County Transit bus was released by Sunrise Police Friday.

The incident happened Sunday as the bus was driving in the 12800 block of West Broward Boulevard.

According to police, 23-year-old Junior Normil stabbed his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend in the back of the bus. The victim's girlfriend screamed as Normil ran off the bus.

The victim suffered a laceration to his shoulder/neck area, police said. Police later arrested Normil but he had stashed the knife, officials said.

Normil was charged with committing a felony that could cause death. He was being held without bond Friday and it was unknown if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Sunrise Police]]>
<![CDATA[Long-Haired Thief Robs Homestead Bank]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:20:08 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/013015+homestead+bank+robber+long+hair.jpg

The FBI is searching for a person who robbed a Homestead bank Friday morning.

The robber entered the Chase Bank at 1071 N Homestead Blvd around 9:30 a.m. and demanded money from a bank employee.

No one was injured in the robbery. The FBI said an undisclosed amount of money was taken.

Anyone with information about the robber's identity is urged to call the FBI at (754) 703-2000 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[Lance Bass Attending Mass Gay Wedding in Fort Lauderdale]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:14:10 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gayjameslancebass.jpg

Former 'N Sync member Lance Bass will serve as an ambassador at a mass wedding ceremony for 100 LGBT and straight couples on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The sunrise ceremony, hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and dubbed "Love is Love," will take place Feb. 5.

It will be presided over by Reverend Dr. Durrell Watkins, senior minister of the Sunshine Cathedral.

"Lance shares the same pioneering spirit of advocating for LGBT equality that we embody here in Greater Fort Lauderdale," Nicki Grossman, president and CEO of the Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. "We're thrilled to have him be part of our historic moment on the same day he shares his own personal wedding with the world."

Bass, who married his husband on Dec. 20, will celebrate the day with couples from across the nation and from as far away as London, Italy and South America.

For more information, click here.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Seahawks Coach on What Richard Sherman Should Name His Baby]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:57:12 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005961142_1200x675_391459395811.jpg Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll joked that cornerback Richard Sherman should name his baby "Petey." Carroll was asked about the possibility of Sherman's pregnant girlfriend going into labor before the Super Bowl. The lighthearted moment came during a press conference with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday, Jan. 30. ]]> <![CDATA[FBI Searching for Miami Beach Bank Robber]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:58:24 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/miami+beach+bank+robber+013015.jpg

Authorities are searching for a person who robbed a Miami Beach bank Friday morning.

The FBI said the robber entered the BB&T Bank at 901 Arthur Godfrey Road around 9:45 a.m., demanding money from a bank employee.

Customers were in the bank at the time, but no one was injured. The FBI said the amount of money taken, if any, would not be released.

Anyone with information about the robber's identity is urged to call the FBI at (754) 703-2000 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation]]>
<![CDATA[3 Sought in Gas Station Armed Robbery: MDPD]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:18:06 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/mdpd+gas+station+robberz.jpg

Miami-Dade Police are looking for three people in connection with a gas station robbery that was caught on surveillance video last December.

According to police, two of the suspects entered the gas station at 4100 NW 27th Ave. in Miami-Dade on December 18th and pretended to be customers. That's when a third person entered the gas station, and approached a female employee demanding money from the register at gunpoint.

The victim complied, and the suspects ran away with an undisclosed amount of money. Thankfully, the victim was not injured during the robbery.

The suspects appear to be two black men and one black woman. No other identifiable information is available at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Motorcycle Trooper Involved in Miami-Dade Crash]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:08:31 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/trooper+crash+nb+tp.jpg

Police were responding to an accident involving a motorcycle trooper and another vehicle on the northbound turnpike at Southwest 120th Street Friday morning.

According to police, the motorman suffered serious injuries, but is expected to survive. The driver of the other car remained on the scene.

At least one person had to be air rescued to the hospital.

Right now, the off ramp of the turnpike northbound at Southwest 120th Street is shut down due to this accident. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes.

No further details are available at this time.

This is a developing story. Stay with NBC 6 South Florida for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Motorcyclist Hurt in Crash in Hialeah]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:47:42 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/motorcycle+crash4.jpg

Police were on the scene of a crash involving a motorcyclist in Hialeah Friday morning.

The crash happened in the area of Le Jeune Road and Northwest 62nd Street in Hialeah around 4:15 a.m..

Chopper 6 was over the scene where it appears that at least one person was being treated for injuries.

According to police, the motorcyclist is a 20-year-old male. He suffered internal injuries as a result of the crash, and was taken to Jackson Hospital's trauma center in critical but stable condition.

No other injuries were reported. The crash is still under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Craft Brewers Tackle Super Bowl, Beer's Marquee Event ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:59:13 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/beer+bottles+generic+edit.jpg

New Yorkers packing the Roebling Sporting Club on Super Bowl Sunday will be watching the Brooklyn bar’s eight TVs to see whether the Patriots or Seahawks reign supreme.

Ryan McLaughlin, the bar’s manager, will follow a different contest — one played out at the beer taps.

“Bud Light will outsell any other beer that day, except maybe Budweiser,” said McLaughlin, who has worked the taps there for about a year and a half. But he’s “absolutely” seeing more people ordering craft beers like Great Divide’s Nomad or Coney Island’s Mermaid Pilsner, even during the Super Bowl, he said.

Craft beers — defined as beers from independently-owned, traditionally styled brewers making less than 6 million barrels a year — are more popular than ever across the U.S. But Super Bowl Sunday has traditionally been home turf for big American brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors, which can compound their worldwide cultural status with titanic advertising budgets.

Rather than try to compete on the grand scale, craft brewers say they’ll celebrate in their own small ways — unveiling a specialty beer, hosting a brewpub game-watch or simply posting a timely reminder on Facebook.

“We prefer word-of-mouth, social media and more organic advertising,” said Hilary Coalis, the director of marketing for San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits, which is growing rapidly and now distributes on both coasts. “We know it’s a big beer-drinking holiday, and we rely on our fans to make their choices.”

Stone Brewing Co., one of America’s largest independent craft brewers, has sworn off advertising altogether, said Nickie Peña. The brewery in Escondido, California, instead hosts what Peña calls "anti-Super Bowl" events. On the morning of the game, Stone invites its fans — national sales director Jason Armstrong calls them “true beer geeks” — to sample vintage or archived beers.

In 2013, American craft brewers collectively dethroned America’s biggest brand, Budweiser, shipping 16.1 million barrels to Budweiser’s 16 million, according to industry analyst Beer Insights. Craft beers have steadily grown by 10.9 percent over the past decade, said Julia Herz of the Craft Brewers Association, even as overall domestic beer sales have fallen.

“[Our fans] understand that instead of spending money on ads, we’re spending money on the product that we’re pushing out,” Peña said. “We’d rather create a product that’s locally made with high-quality ingredients, that isn’t watered-down, and put our money in that place, rather than putting our money on ads.”

At Top Hops Beer Co., a beer shop and tasting bar in New York specializing in craft beers, patrons said they prefer craft beers for the Super Bowl but are also picking up familiar brands for their friends.

“I like craft beers, Ommegang especially, but I think the general population is drinking Bud Light, Coors Light, and the other light stuff,” said Jonathan Spinner, a builder and designer. His friend Mike Warshaw, a plumber who was hosting his own Super Bowl party, said, “I’m probably going to buy a case of Corona, and Newcastle, but I’m into different-flavored beers.”

Ted Kenny, the owner of Top Hops, says he expects Budweiser and Stella Artois to sell well on the fourth Super Bowl he’s been in business. But he also expects to sell more craft beers than any other day of the year.

“I expect to sell more New England beers for people who want more themed parties — Sam Adams, Smuttynose,” Kenny said.

This year’s game has also provoked some friendly bets between brewers in Seahawks and Patriots country. Harpoon Brewery, with plants in Boston and Windsor, Vermont, and Elysian Brewing Company of Seattle (although recently acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev) have each staked three kegs on the outcome. The loser will serve the winner’s beer.

That’s another trend lifting small brewers: Drinking local. Small, independent brewers celebrate their hometowns, they say, and local fans respond by celebrating with their beer.

“More people are looking to buy local products and support businesses that are made or grown closer to home,” said Eugene Simor, the president of San Antonio’s Alamo Brewing Company. “That’s what’s driving craft, and the big guys can’t compete with it. It’s not an advertising or marketing thing. It’s people going back to the roots of what the beer industry used to be about.”

Simor has leaned heavily on local support to drum up Super Bowl business. Alamo partnered with Texas Public Radio, local academics and several local businesses to host a panel discussion of Super Bowl advertising and marketing. The panel will be hosted at the beer hall in Alamo’s newly-opened brewery in in downtown San Antonio. Simor expects a capacity crowd: 125 people.

Tim Miller, a craft brewer from Maryland, is hoping a sense of local pride can also restore some luster to old brands. In 2011, Miller resurrected National Premium Beer, an old Baltimore brand, with an eye on Baby Boomers nostalgic for a local favorite.

“Our market is male, 50-plus, from the mid-Atlantic, really loves the beer, loves the story, remembers it fondly,” Miller said. “Our plan is that during, say, the Super Bowl or Father’s Day, a father will tell his son about this beer he used to drink, their special beer.”

Craft brewers still face an uphill battle against the entrenched American heavyweights, however, especially during the Super Bowl.

“Over the course of 2014, 30 percent of the case volume sold nationwide was premium light beers: Coors Light, Miller Lite,” said MillerCoors spokeswoman Cat Corrigan, citing a Nielsen statistic. “We know that those beers will be the prominent choice for sports fans who are sitting down to watch the Super Bowl.”

Bartenders at sports bars know it, too.

“I predict Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light,” said Pete Fecht, a manager at St. Mark’s Ale House, a Manhattan sports bar. “A football crowd always drinks the cheapest beer in the biggest quantity.”

Big brewers are paying handsomely for that attention. Anheuser-Bush is the Super Bowl’s exclusive beer advertiser, ensuring that spectators will get their fix of the brand’s iconic Clydesdales (and, now, golden retriever puppies). MillerCoors, on the other hand, is promoting its brands through live events likely to drum up outside media coverage. Coors Light is sponsoring ESPN’s Super Bowl party, Corrigan said. Miller Lite is sponsoring a Super Bowl party co-hosted by Rolling Stone magazine and featuring Aerosmith.

Back at the bar at Roebling Sporting Club, McLaughlin will have Bud Light on hand. But craft beers will be on tap.

“People ask for what’s local,” he said. “I’m a staunch craft beer supporter. It’s the beer renaissance here in the United States.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Community Hit By Crime Spree]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:33:21 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/012915+miami-dade+crime+wave.jpg

Buy a home inside a private, gated community, and you're buying an extra level of protection against crime. That's the prevailing wisdom in real estate, but it may not hold true everywhere.

Residents at Aventura Isles, a development on Ives Dairy Road in northeast Miami-Dade County, say over the past six to nine months they've been hit with a relentless wave of burglaries, break-ins, and at least one car theft.

NBC 6 spoke to three residents of the complex, all of whom have become crime victims in recent months. They gathered together to tell their stories and voice their concerns.

"It makes me feel very scared and insecure," said resident Shruti Sarawgi.

"Community's just not safe," added Anthony Clarke.

Jack Cassius said, "I'm very frustrated and very upset."

Cassius woke up last Saturday to a shock: his beloved BMW convertible was gone. Security camera video shows it rolling right out the front gate of the community, but unfortunately, the driver's face is obscured in the video.

"When you live in a gated area, you don't expect to have a car stolen from right in front of your house," said Cassius.

20 minutes earlier that same night, right down the street, Sarawgi's security camera captured something on video she'd rather not watch: a thief you can clearly see quickly gets into her BMW.

"He took his time and it seemed he was very calm, he was in no rush," Sarawgi said.

The video shows the white, possibly Hispanic man sitting in the car, then he gets out and walks to the trunk, takes a laptop, a jacket, and walks away with about $8,000 in goods and cash. The neighbors think this same man then drove off in Cassius's car, part of what they call an unrelenting crime spree.

"And nobody in the community is stepping forward to do anything about it because they're scared the property value might go down," Sarawgi said.

The developer did install temporary lights and motion sensors in a field bordering the property, but with no perimeter fence forcing visitors to enter through the guard gate, neighbors say burglars can easily get in and out.

So, apparently, can dognappers. Someone snatched Anthony Clarke's Pomeranian, Jerry, right out of his yard in the middle of the day.

"My entire family was devastated by losing that dog, someone just walk up and take him and leave," said Clarke.

That was months ago and Jerry was never found. The thief caught on camera breaking into the BMW, and who might have stolen the convertible down the street, looks to be in his late 20's or early 30's, he's white and possibly Hispanic, and wears a slight beard on his chin.

The property manager did not return our calls for comment.

Miami-Dade Police acknowledged Aventura Isles had a serious crime issue, but say they've addressed it by conducting surveillance operations at night and by increasing patrols in the daytime hours. Police say in the last four weeks there have only been two reported burglaries in the entire development, which they call a "phenomenal" improvement. However, the police agree a perimeter fence would be a huge help, and privately, sources within the Miami-Dade Police Department say budget cuts have reduced their ability to patrol the area as much as they'd like to.

<![CDATA[NBC 6 Investigation: Caribbean Cruise Line]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:22:25 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/caribbeancruiselineinvestigation.jpg

Bob Hernan thought he was getting a good deal to take his daughter and two sons on a cruise so one morning last fall he used half of his monthly social security and took the vacation offer he got by phone.

“A cruise for two nights and four days,” said 84-year-old Hernan, who said he took meticulous notes during the call. “And if I took four people, I had to pay the extra fee. I think it was $59 port fees and that was the only fee mentioned.”

Sometimes the vacation deal offer comes in a voucher in the mail, others through a phone call or text; all promising a free cruise or special promotion. But when Hernan called to book the cruise for the Thanksgiving holidays; the sales person representing Caribbean Cruise Line came up with more fees that Hernan says were not mentioned when he bought the vacation package.

His daughter, Mary Hernan, explained there was a $129 per person fee just to get on the cruise, the fee for gratuities and fuel surcharges, and on and on. The final price tag: $1,600.

This was a vacation Bob Hernan could not afford. Mary Hernan went online to see what she could find out about Caribbean Cruise Line.

“All I found were complaints,” Mary Hernan said.

Caribbean Cruise Line, based in Fort Lauderdale, is more of a travel marketing company than a cruise line with hundreds of unsatisfied customers all over the United States and Canada.

More than 500 complaints had been filed with the Florida Attorney General’s office and more than 1,400 with the Better Business Bureau, which gives the company an “F.” Most of the BBB complaints have been resolved.

(A map of the complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau can be found at the bottom of this story.)

The Florida Attorney General’s Office said it is currently investigating Caribbean Cruise Line.

Mary Hernan called the company and asked for a refund because the package wasn’t what her father expected it to be. But the customer service representative called her “stupid” and refused to refund the money.

What the Hernans did not know is that Caribbean Cruise Line is in the business of selling travel packages, license records filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services show.

NBC 6 Investigators tracked down Robert P. Mitchell, president of Caribbean Cruise Line, to ask why he wouldn’t return Bob Hernan’s $600. Mitchell did not respond to our request for an interview.

It turns out that businessmen connected with Caribbean Cruise Line have been in trouble for deceiving customers twice before; most recently in 2006 when they owned a company called Imperial Majesty.

James Verrillo and Daniel Lambert got in trouble for practices similar to what Caribbean Cruise Line’s customers have complained about.

It was located at the same address as Caribbean Cruise Line, 2419 East Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Both booked cruises aboard the “Bahamas Celebration.”

Five years ago, a Florida judge banned Lambert and Verillo from “charging fees” above the “advertised fare” and ordered them to “conspicuously disclose the fuel …charge…” and ordered them to pay $16 million in fines and restitution.

Joe Pappacoda is a Miami attorney specializing in financial misconduct. He said the state often has a hard time collecting penalties in these types of civil cases.

“They don’t care if the corporation gets a $15 million judgment because the corporation is going to get dissolved and open up a new corporation,” Pappacoda said.

In fact, Verrillo and Lambert did dissolve Imperial Majesty on Sept. 14, 2007, according to an affidavit filed with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, and they did not pay a penny, saying their company lost $1.3 million dollars “pursuant to its 2009 taxes,” the document shows.

NBC 6 Investigators reached out to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to see if Bondi would want to explain to taxpayers how she plans to recoup the money Lambert and Verrillo owe – with interest – about $12.7 million. But our request for an interview was denied.

This was not the first time the pair had been in legal trouble for selling vacation packages. In 1999, Verrillo’s and Lambert’s pitchman was TV personality, Robin Leach. Their company was Plaza Resorts.

All three men were named in lawsuits filed by attorney generals in 18 states and Washington, D.C., alleging deceptive business practices such as not stating “…the total cost of the trip including …fees.”

Though Robert Mitchell is Caribbean Cruise Line’s owner of record, NBC 6 Investigators found evidence that both Verrillo and Lambert are connected to the company as well.

Annual reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor known as “Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974” shows Plaza Resorts – the company sued by 19 attorney generals – and Dan Lambert sponsors Caribbean Cruise Line’s employee stock program. Experts said a sponsor has to be part of the company.

So where are the men who’d failed to pay the millions they owe in fines and restitution to Florida regulators today?

James Verrillo owns a six-bedroom, 15,000-square-foot home in Lighthouse Point, which the real estate website, Zillow, values at $7.5 million.

Daniel Lambert put this 9-bedroom, 18,000-square-foot-home in Fort Lauderdale in his wife’s name. The house is for sale for $17.9 million. Lambert has reportedly sunk millions into his fight club, American Top Team and is building a new 45,000-square-foot gym.

As for the Hernan’s, they say the people involved with these companies are getting rich by exploiting honest, hard-working people.

“The worst thing about this is they don’t tell you the truth,” Bob Hernan said.

“He [Bob Hernan] trusts people. He purchased what he thought was going to be a great package that fit his family,” Mary Hernan added.

Photo Credit: NBC 6
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<![CDATA[Body in Car Found in Canal in West Miami-Dade]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:29:14 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/012915+car+in+canal+2.jpg

Authorities are investigating after a body was found in a car that was discovered submerged in a canal in west Miami-Dade Thursday.

The car was found in the area of Okeechobee Road and 154th Avenue by South Florida Water Management workers who were cleaning the canal, Florida Highway Patrol officials said.

“We bring boats in to clean the canal and if we happen to find a car in the water, we turn it into Miami-Dade Underwater Recovery and they pull them out,” said Wes Fight, crew chief for the SFWMD.

The workers discovered an upside down Honda Pilot SUV. It was pulled from the water Thursday evening and FHP troopers found the body of a man inside. FHP said the car matches a missing person case from two weeks ago in Hialeah.

“During the investigation with other agencies, we do have information of a person missing from Hialeah that was reported last seen by a family member on 1/9 and reported missing on 1/16,” said FHP trooper Joe Sanchez.

The back end of the Honda SUV was smashed up and Sanchez said it may have been involved in an accident before it went in the canal. The vehicle was loaded onto a flatbed truck Thursday and taken to the medical examiner’s office for identification on the body.

“We have to put this puzzle together. It’s one piece,” Sanchez said. “Then put together through several pieces we’ll be able to identify exactly what happened.”

This is the second car discovered in a canal with a body inside. Last week another SFWMD crew found a car in a canal in Sunrise that ended up being linked to a cold case involving a missing teenage girl and her boyfriend from 1978. Remains found near that car are still being examined by forensic analysts.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>