Here are some of the top stories from the past week from NBC 6 News:
Airline Refund Complaints Skyrocket During Pandemic
Refund complaints to the federal government have skyrocketed over the pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is beefing up staff to help secure refunds for passengers of canceled flights.
Flight cancellations and schedule changes have impacted many air travelers over the pandemic.
According to U.S. DOT, airlines and ticket agents have a legal obligation to provide refunds to consumers if the airline cancels or significantly changes a consumer’s flight.
But early in the pandemic, many passengers had difficulty getting refunds.
According to the Department of Transportation, a little more than 2 percent of all domestic flights were canceled between March 2019 and July 2019. That number is actually down in 2021. For the same time period in 2021, that number is around 1 percent.
Complaints to the Transportation Department during this time period about refunds not paid by airlines have skyrocketed to 70 percent of all complaints filed.
Contractor Arrested in Alleged $1 Million Miami Pool Fraud Scheme
A pool contractor and others have been arrested in an alleged $1 million Miami pool fraud scheme.
Ricardo Villarroel is accused of defrauding nearly 100 homeowners across the state.
Earlier this month, NBC 6 Responds teamed up with Telemundo Responde units across the state and heard from frustrated homeowners.
Homeowner Angel Lacasse said he contracted with Villarroel’s company, Villa Pavers and Pools, and paid a deposit of $21,000. More than a year later the pool was not complete.
"Once I paid him that lump sum of money after the concrete, he just disappeared," Lacasse said.
Other homeowners across Florida shared similar stories of unfinished projects and thousands of dollars lost.
At the beginning of October, Florida’s Attorney General’s Office told NBC 6 Responds that their consumer protection division was actively reviewing six complaints.
Weeks after the NBC 6 Responds investigation aired, Villarroel and three others are now facing racketeering charges.
Miami Shores Asks FDLE to Review Allegations Against Police Department
Miami Shores Village is turning to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review allegations of racism, malfeasance and criminal violations within the village’s police department.
Village Manager Esmond Scott issued a statement Wednesday addressing the allegations he says were brought to the village’s attention this week by a former employee.
“... This former employee delivered the allegations to the Village in a lengthy letter on Monday, October 25, 2021 - nearly a month after his employment ended,” said Scott. “... I have contacted Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the information provided to us by the former employee. We are also beginning an investigative inquiry, using outside parties, of our Village policies and procedures …”
Through a public records request, NBC 6 obtained a copy of the 54-page report that was sent to Miami Shores on Monday.
Former Davie Officer Charged With Stealing From Charity for 2018 Crash Victims
A former Davie Police Department officer has found himself behind bars after investigators said he took thousands of dollars from a charity set up to help a family whose husband and daughter were killed while Halloween trick-or-treating in 2018.
Jeffrey Stewart, 53, was arrested October 14th on a warrant issued the previous day on charges that include felony grand theft and felony tampering with proceedings. He was being held on a $17,000 bond.
According to an arrest report, Stewart set up the charity Random Acts of Kindness Everyday with his niece, Danielle, after the deaths of 46-year-old Carlos Amaya and his five-year-old daughter Heidy Orellana-Cruz.
Both were killed while walking in a designated crosswalk near the 6600 block of Griffin Road on October 30th, 2018, when they were struck by a 2011 Cadillac CTS traveling eastbound.
A second child, a 2-year-old girl, sustained a laceration to her head and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The couple's 17-year-old son Erick told NBC 6 after the crash that Amaya had come from El Salvador five years ago for a better life and the family followed several years later.
Brightline Unveiling New Ride Share Service Aimed at Making Commutes Quicker
Ahead of its November 8th scheduled relaunch with riders filling up stations across South Florida, Brightline will also be unveiling a new ride share service aimed at making commutes quicker and easier.
The high-speed rail line showed off a new fleet of cars Tuesday in Miami that riders will be able to take when booking their trips.
The ride share service, called Brightline+, will have a fleet of Teslas, golf carts and buses taking riders from station to station.
“You’ll be able to choose basically how do you want to get to and from a Brightline station, whether it’s an economic decision or a timing decision," Brightline president Patrick Goddard said. "It is a first real car-free alternative that’s going to be available really in the United States.”
After over a year of halted service due to the COVID pandemic, Goodard said they are ready to get the trains back on the track.
Watch Unique NBC 6 Original Content on New FireTV App
A new app from NBC 6 makes it easy for more than 50 million Amazon FireTV users to watch the daily 6 To Know digital news brief to start and end your day, plus digital extras like Cold Crimes – a special series looking for new clues in some of the most notorious unsolved cases in South Florida.
The new NBC South Florida app brings the same great experience from our Roku and AppleTV apps to the Amazon FireTV platform.
Through this new app, you can watch original content designed for streaming platforms, browse coverage of the biggest news stories of the day, and watch live local newscasts.
The app also delivers our state-of-the-art weather news, including the latest forecasts, live radar, the hour-by-hour forecast and the 10-day forecast.
Click here to download the app from Amazon’s FireTV app store -- you can initiate the download on a computer or phone, and it will load on your FireTV device. Search NBC 6 South Florida to download for free.