Eight Miami-Dade residents could be finding themselves on the losing end of a $5 million embezzlement scheme.
The federal government is now looking to seize Miami real estate that was purchased using the proceeds of a scheme that involved rigging gambling machines at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming between 2011 and 2015.
The properties include a condo in Miami Beach, four residential properties in Miami-Dade and one in West Miami. The defendants, four of whom were former Miccosukee employees, also put money into Florida’s Prepaid College Plan, as well as purchased cars.
According to the indictment, four of the defendants and co-conspirators tampered with the electronic gaming machines at the Miccosukee Casino so that they would generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets. The defendants then allegedly exchanged the vouchers for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, or from floor cashiers or the casino treasury.
Charged in the indictment were Michel Aleu, 41, Lester Lavin, 43, Yohander Jorrin Melhen, 42, Leonard Betancourt, 46, Maria Del Pilar Aleu, 39, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 30, Milagros Marile Acosta Torres, 33, and Yusmary Shirley Duran, 40.
The eight Miami-Dade County residents were charged with computer fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and making false statements to law enforcement.
The properties the government is seeking to seize are:
- 13104 Southwest 211th Terrace, Miami; a five-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family home.
- Unit 1203 at 5880 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo across from the Bath Club.
- 6120 Southwest 12th Street, West Miami; a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
- Unit 404 at 110 Fontainebleau Boulevard, Miami; a two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo
- 4247 Southwest 165th Street, Miami; a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bedroom townhouse.
- 15411 Southwest 143rd Avenue, Miami; a three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home
South Florida real estate has long been viewed as a safe place for illicit gains. Last year, luxury properties were tied to a billion-dollar scheme where top officials laundered money out of Venezuelan’s state oil company and into real estate and assets around the world.
In a separate case, in June, the U.S. government sought to seize two Miami properties tied to an alleged money laundering and bribery scheme involving Venezuelan officials and the country’s state-run electricity company, Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, also known as Corpoelec.