Santos Bonilla works hard to make his small Homestead nursery flourish.
Recently, he thought his business, Santony Nursery, had a great day when a man came in to purchase more than $4,000 in plants.
“I realized there was a problem when I got the check back from my bank,” Bonilla said.
He found out he had gotten a bad check. Three other nearby nursery owners said the same thing happened to them.
They all identified the same man, Kevin Osorio, as the person who passed the bad checks. The other nursery owners had gotten big checks to ranging from $2,400 through $7,800.
Bonilla is responsible for paying the bank the money from the bad check.
So, he’s trying to get his money from Osorio using the Bad Check Restitution Program through the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
“The objective is to get money back to the owner who deserves it,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
To use the program, you had to get the check in Miami-Dade County for a product or service. You have to be able to identify the person who signed the check. You had to have deposited it into a bank and you have to file a complaint within 90 days of the date on the check.
“It doesn’t cost the taxpayers any money, it doesn’t cost the person who received the bad check any money and it’s very minimal on the person who wrote the bad check,” said Rundle.
She stresses it’s minimal unless the money isn’t paid back voluntarily. The office can seek criminal charges against someone who refuses to accept the terms of the program which includes restitution and taking a course to prevent it from happening again.
Bonilla is going through the process to get his money back. Osorio has been notified he owes the money but has not yet paid. If Osorio doesn’t participate in the diversion program and pay the money back, the state attorney’s office says they would file criminal charges.
Those charges could include the amounts for the checks written to all four business owners.
NBC 6 Responds tried to locate Osorio by phone and at addresses listed for him but were unable to find him.
If you want more information about the bad check program, call 1-800-832-1853. Since it began, the program has recovered more than $15 million.