I am very excited to connect with you and share what the SAO has been up to so far in 2020. In this new year and decade, we have been able to embark on new projects and bring others to fruition.

We are always looking for ways to inform the community as to what we are doing and how we can serve you. Social media has allowed us to connect directly with you for the past couple of years through Twitter and Facebook. And now I am proud to say that we are also on Instagram!
If you would like to be informed with the latest SAO information, please follow us on all our social media:

Twitter: @kathyfndzrundle

Facebook: Office of the State Attorney - Katherine Fernandez Rundle

Instagram: saomiami

YouTube: MiamiSAO

Our website, , is undergoing revamping/restructuring to make it even easier to navigate for those wanting information and resources.

So far, we have a new portal for our anti-human trafficking efforts including resources, services and highlights of the work of our dedicated unit and task force, which can be accessed at  or through our main website under the Services tab.
Our commitment to better serve you, our community, is the reason that we at the SAO continue to look forward, while drawing from our experience to provide justice for victims of crimes. Progress and innovation with a solid foundation toward ensuring public safety is the best way to keep our community strong through Smart Justice.



"Trafficking survivors and other experts had previously warned us that our community would attract human traffickers that look to take advantage of the economic impact and influx of visitors produced by the Super Bowl itself," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "That is why we joined forces with local, state and federal agencies and community organizations to tackle this threat successfully as one team".

The collaborative effort by SAO's Human Trafficking Task Force, the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and Miami-Dade, Miami Beach and City of Miami Police Departments as well as other local law enforcement agencies, the local Super Bowl Host Committee and the Women's Fund Miami-Dade, was successful by implementing an awareness campaign and a law enforcement component.
As a result of our collaborative law enforcement efforts, we were able to recover 20 victims of Human Trafficking:
  •  Four victims identified themselves as residents of Miami-Dade                or  Broward Counties.
  • Sixteen victims were from other states and four foreign countries.
"Investments in creating greater community awareness are not just for the Super Bowl but can be important assets for the future," added the State Attorney. "This united effort has not only led to arrests and recoveries but has also provided us with information and leads that help us continue to successfully stop human trafficking in our community."
In other news:

On January 7th and 8th SAO had the honor of co-hosting a one-and-a-half-day event with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"Our Human Trafficking Prosecutorial Summit got off to a great start, focusing on topics such as trauma-informed responses and victims; use of demand reduction; creative prosecuting and charging decisions; illicit massage parlors; utilizing the task force model; encryption; labor trafficking and medical/wrap-around services," commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Black History Month 2020

This February the SAO once again put on some very special events in honor of Black History Month. Our BHM Committee headed by Natascha West spends a great deal of time and attention to detail when planning our annual celebration.

On February 19th, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle had the honor of introducing our guest speaker for this year's SAO Black History Program, former Assistant State Attorney and United States Attorney, and now retired Broward County Judge, the Honorable Ilona M. Holmes.
Judge Holmes joins a long list of dedicated public servants who have come to share their stories with us. The sharing of their struggles and their triumphs have had an impact on the lives of those of us who live in South Florida and even beyond.
Our Black History Month Main Event truly showcased the tremendous talent our office has produced and continues to produce as we welcomed Judge Holmes and another of our former prosecutors and Assistant United States Attorney who has also joined our esteemed judiciary, County Court Judge Miesha Darrough.
Festivities also included an African Attire Challenge in which participants modeled and sought the coveted African Fashionista title. And the grand finale was the Soul/Caribbean Food Lunch where everyone enjoyed the delicious assortment of dishes .
5000 Role Models Scholarship Breakfast 

In celebration of the 27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. 5000 Role Models Scholarship Breakfast, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle joined U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson along with local, state and national officials in what has become a joyous tradition on MLK Day.
"It is in honor to celebrate the memory of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who we all know was one of the greatest inspirational mentors of our modern era, as he gave us the promise of hope and opportunity as you undoubtedly see manifested in all these wonderful young men who are here today," commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Program strives to give at-risk and minority young men hope for a better future through a mentorship program designed to sustain a vision of greatness in the mentees.

National Black Prosecutors Association,
 Chuck Morton Chapter's BHM Event 

Chief Assistant State Attorney Don L. Horn, joined by our Assistant Chief of Domestic Crimes Kristina Mills and Assistant State Attorney Joni Caldwell, participated in the National Black Prosecutors Association Chuck Morton Chapter's Black History event which included a tour of the City of Miami Black Precinct Courthouse and Museum followed by a lively discussion "The Conundrum of Black Law Enforcement: Can I Cheer On and Charge My People at the Same Time?".

SAO Community Outreach  

Update on Amendment 4 

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle together with the Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez participated on a panel at the 9th Annual Diversity Symposium hosted by the Caribbean Bar Association at the law firm of White & Case LLP.
"I am honored to have been invited to participate in this Diversity Symposium on the Status of Voting Rights in 2020 as we celebrate Black History Month," said State Attorney Fernandez Rundle. " I thank the members of the Caribbean Bar for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important subject with you."
Voting rights, specifically as they relate to Amendment 4, was this year's topic at the Symposium as 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

The Florida Supreme Court authored an advisory opinion indicating all financial obligations must be met in order for returning citizens' sentence complete. The State Attorney in partnership with the Public Defender, FRRC and various pro bono volunteer lawyers, have created a path for those individuals who do not have an ability to pay. 

For details please visit

Sealing and Expungement Events

Serving the community is at the core of our commitment to Smart Justice. Our first Sealing or Expungement Program event this year had a tremendous success. We assisted 280 individuals and 151 (54%) of them were eligible to seal or expunge their Miami-Dade County arrest. Follow us on our social media platforms for more "Second Chance" and other upcoming events!


SAO Published in NDAA

We at the SAO are proud to share with  you 
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Chief Assistant State Attorney Stephen K. Talpins' article titled "Improving Traffic Safety and Supporting Victims by Providing Driver's Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants" which appeared in the National District Attorneys Association 'Between the Lines' Newsletter.
To read the article please click on the link:

In The News
Social Media is Key in Operation Growing Pains

On February 18, 2020, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announces the arrest of 10 individuals, members of an organized crime ring which used technology and sophisticated surveillance to steal money, jewelry, cars and guns.

Prosecutors and officers from MDPD worked diligently and were able to put together a strong racketeering case against the group led by Xandi Garcia. Among the group were his girlfriend and his mother who were key members of the operation.

All but two face racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer, as well as a variety of charges related to six alleged burglaries, three alleged attempted or planned burglaries, five alleged illegal marijuana grow house operations and the alleged laundering of the criminal proceeds.

This criminal enterprise sought out their victims by monitoring potential victim's social media posts, using inside people, placing GPS trackers on their vehicles. They would stalk and surveil their victims before committing the burglaries, sometimes preparing for weeks beforehand.

This group first came to the attention of law enforcement due to their marijuana grow house operation. Upon arresting Xandi Garcia on July 10, 2018 for trafficking marijuana and executing a search warrant on his two cellphones, we were able to obtain a wealth of information related to the identity of members of the organization, their drug trafficking activities and information on prior burglaries in which there had been no arrests. 

We also found detailed information of how they operated, about goods they had allegedly stolen and about potential victims like New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman.

The defendants in this case are all bond eligible, however, all have a Nebbia requirement which verifies that bond money is not derived from criminal activity.

Heat turned up on Cold Case of the Pillowcase Rapist

Decades after an offender referred to as the "Pillowcase Rapist" terrorized the women of South Florida for committing as many as 40 sexual assaults, the offender has finally been caught.  

On January 18, 2020, 60-year-old Robert Koehler was taken into custody in Palm Bay, Florida. He has been charged with armed kidnapping and sexual battery for an offense which occurred on December 28, 1983.  Other offenses may be charged in the future, as well.
In the currently-charged case, the victim was a 25-year-old woman who was confronted inside her home by Koehler, who put his hand over her mouth before pushing her to the floor and stabbing her in the abdomen. She was forced to cover her face with a blanket before he raped her.  Although rape kit evidence was collected from the victim the night of the attack, DNA testing was not available at that time.  However, in 1999, the police crime laboratory re-analyzed the evidence and obtained male DNA from her kit.  That male DNA profile matched the DNA of the attacker in other cases, confirming that the offender was serial rapist. 

Although Koehler was a convicted sexual offender from an incident in Palm Beach County in 1991, his DNA was never entered into the DNA database.  Thus, the cases remained unsolved for years.  The break in this case came when Koehler's son was arrested, and his DNA provided a close, familial match for the unknown rapist. This clue led police to Koehler and the collection of DNA from objects he had touched. When the laboratory compared the DNA from objects Koehler had touched to the DNA from the victim's rape kit, it provided sufficient evidence for the police to obtain an arrest warrant for the offender. 

After Koehler was taken into custody on the arrest warrant in Palm Bay, Florida, he was brought to the Miami-Dade County Jail, where a search warrant was issued to obtain a DNA sample directly from his mouth.  Testing of that DNA sample showed that Koehler was a match for the profile from the currently-charged case, and many other cases.

The collective work of the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Tampa Area Homeland Security, with the assistance of one of my attorneys, Senior Trial Counsel Laura Adams, has resulted in a fugitive from justice finally being held accountable for his actions.
" Crime victims should gain strength from the knowledge that unsolved cases are never forgotten. We are all looking at the prior investigative files with the aim of following the scientific evidence to build further cases," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "I want to let the victims of the Pillowcase Rapist know that my office is available to them. They can reach out and speak to SAO's Sexual Assault Victim Counselor who is specialized in dealing with these cases at 305-547-0441."
Courthouse Highlights

Two Consecutive and Two Concurrent Life Sentences for Murder and Robbery 

Senior Trial Counsel Abbe Rifkin, as a result of her excellent prosecutorial work, secured a conviction against Danyan Mangham, 43, for the murders of Robert Berriman and Jorge De Los Rios, Jr. in 2005. The defendant was also charged with multiple counts of armed robbery and aggravated assault. 

Mangham frequented an apartment belonging to Jorge De Los Rios, Jr. and his brother, which was a hangout and party spot where drugs were sold, and alcohol was constantly available.  According to state witnesses, Mangham was routinely at the apartment but never bothered anyone. 

Shortly before the murders, Mangham and Jorge were seen in a bedroom with a shotgun. The defendant  manipulated the victim into loading it properly before putting it back under the bed and leaving the bedroom. 

Later Mangham re-entered bedroom, pulled out the shotgun and calmly stating, "I need to get paid. This (expletive)'s mine!" He went after Robert, who fled out the back door and into the backyard. Mangham was in pursuit and shot off the back of Robert's head, killing him and then took money from Robert's body before going back into the apartment.

Jorge heard the gunshot and came into the house. Mangham shot Jorge in the face at point blank range, killing him instantly.  He then shot him again in the upper torso before rolling him over and taking money from his body. 

STC Rifkin was able to piece together the facts of the case along with the testimony of four civilian witnesses to the crime in 2005. The jury was able to hear first-hand of Mangham's brutal actions before finding the defendant guilty as charged in three hours. 

Mangham was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the murders, and concurrent life terms for the robberies.
Other Trial Highlights
  • Ross Roberts and Yara Dodin received a sentencing on a difficult Sexual Battery case involving an adult female victim who knew the male Defendant before Judge Wolfson. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison with the 10-year mandatory minimum as a habitual violent felony offender, followed by 5 years of probation.  
  • Congratulations to ASAs Latravious Johnson and La'Tiara Calloway on obtaining a guilty verdict in front of the Judge Blumstein of Felony Battery. Special thanks to Victim Witness Counselor Michael Newell for assisting with travel arrangements for our victim and witness and thank you to Victim Witness Counselor Ariel Olivo for assisting with translating to the victim and witness throughout the entire process.
  •  Congratulations to ASAs Ross Roberts and Justus Hogge, who received a guilty as charged verdict before Judge Wolfson on the charges of Armed Carjacking with a Firearm, Armed Robbery with a Firearm, two counts of Fleeing to Elude, and one count of Reckless Driving with Damage to Property. Special thanks go out to ASA Ana Cuello and victim/witness counselors Kelly Usher-Villazan and Marcela Navarrete for their excellent work. 
  • Congratulations to ASAs Daniel Walsh and Kyrsten Melander who secured a guilty verdict on charges of Armed Carjacking with a Firearm before Judge Miranda.  Special thanks to Samantha Mesa who assisted them and their witnesses. 
  • Congratulations to ASAs Kristina Mills, Tierrel "T.J." Mathis, and Eileen Keeley, who secured a guilty verdict on charges of First-Degree Murder, five counts of Attempted Murder, and Shooting a Deadly Missile in a 2011 case.  After two and half hours of deliberation, the jury found the Defendant guilty on all counts and was immediately sentenced to life in prison on the murder count and the maximum on all other counts.  Special thanks to Homicide Counselor Andrea Marquez, Victim-Witness Counselor Lateafia Grinan, Maria Paula Trebol Rojas, Natalia Hernandez and to the Legal Unit for their assistance with several jury instruction issues.
  •  Congratulations to CCR ASA Katharine (K.C.) Moore and ASA Justus Hogge for their victory before Judge Hersch.  The jury took less than 30 minutes to find the defendant guilty as charged of Armed Robbery with a Firearm.  The defendant faces mandatory life as both a Violent Career Criminal ("GORT") and a Three Time Violent Felony Offender. Special thanks to STC Gail Levine, DC Jonathan Borst, STC Abbe Rifkin, DC Marie Mato, Chief Assistant Kathleen Hoague, and ASA Santiago Aroca , ASA Courtney Burroughs, and Victim/Witness Coordinator Deborah Fernandez. 
  • Congratulations to ASAs Chris Flanagan (Gangs Prosecution Unit) and Tammy Pitiriciu (Insurance Fraud Unit) for successfully RE-trying a 2008 Miami Gardens Homicide, one of the city's first cases.  The Defendant was originally sentenced to 40 years in Florida State Prison and filed a post-conviction motion before Judge Venzer, who vacated the result and sentence.  The case was re-litigated before Judge Richard Hersch and the Defendant was ultimately re-sentenced to 40 years in Florida State Prison with a 10-year minimum mandatory followed by 15 years of reporting probation. 
  •  ASAs Chiaka Ihekwaba, Mari Jimenez, and Justus Hogge received a guilty as charged to an indictment against the defendant with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, escape, resisting with violence, and armed burglary with an assault or battery. Special thanks to Lateafia Grinan and Jaisel Cordoba for their efforts to produce twenty-three witnesses over the course of the week and a half trial.
  •  Congratulations to ASAs Alexandria Lewis and Joseph-Robert "Joro" Forman for their victory in a joint trial of two defendants accused of a brutal attempted first-degree premeditated murder. The defendants now face twenty-five to life. Special thanks to DC Genevieve Valle, DC Lara Penn, the incredible support staff and victim/witness coordinator Marcela Navarrete, the transportation team, and the MDPD South District Detectives.
  •  ASAs Leonard Thompson and Alexander DeFilippo earned a guilty verdict on an Aggravated Battery with Great Bodily Harm in front of Judge Teresa Pooler. Special thanks to victim witness counselors and secretaries Samantha Mesa, Deborah Fernandez, Maria Diaz, Jamil Richards and Jasmine James for all their tireless work and assistance with this case.  
  • Congratulations to Career Criminal/Robbery Unit prosecutors Santiago Aroca and Alibia Henry for receiving a guilty verdict on a 2012 case  in which the defendant was charged with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, and Armed Robbery with a Firearm. The defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment immediately after the verdict. Special thanks to their homicide counselors, victim witness coordinators and Secretary Chandra Taylor. 
SAO Alumni Profile - Suzanne Lee Jackson
Suzanne Jackson, Assist. Chief Counsel , Office of Principal Legal Advisor, Dept. of Homeland Security, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement

This month, we highlight a very well-respected prosecutor with a career that ranges from military to advertising to law. Our Alumni Profile for February 2020 is Suzanne Lee Jackson.

Suzanne Jackson grew up in Red Bank, NJ as one of four sisters. She is so close to them and their children that at least three are following in her footsteps. "One is in the military training to be a navy seal; one is planning to go to law school and one is studying homeland security," says Jackson.
She has always challenged herself and has not been afraid to reach beyond her comfort zone. That has been key to her success in all aspects of her life.

"I did two years of college before going into the military. I joined because I wanted to see if I could complete the basic training," she says with a laugh.

Jackson not only completed it but also went on to serve two years in the Army Reserves. Later she joined the Air Force where she served for four years. "I had to do their basic training, so I actually completed two basic trainings in all," she says proudly.

One of her jobs in the military was being a weapons instructor specializing in small arms/ hand weapons and tank mounted weapons.

Since she knew that a career in the military wasn't for her, Jackson went back to school and graduated from Kean University with a degree in Management Science.

She then began a career in advertising and worked her way up to Director of an advertising agency in New York City. "I was making good money and I had bought a house, but public service has always been my calling. I wanted to do something for my community and my country."

And that is when she decided to become a prosecutor. "I was always interested in the law but growing up I didn't see many black lawyers and let alone black women lawyers."

In 2005 she began law school at Georgia State University. Since the school was in Atlanta, it allowed her to be closer to two of her sisters who had moved to Florida with their families.

The summer after her second year of law school, she interned at the SAO. And before leaving she interviewed for an ASA position. "I did all three interviews the same day!"
Fall 2008 was the beginning of Jackson's prosecutorial career at the SAO. She started off in misdemeanor DV Court where she became a CTA. During that time the position of Assistant Chief of DV Court opened up and she applied. "Of course, I didn't get it because I didn't have the experience," acknowledges Jackson.

So, she went to juvenile for four months and then to the Felony Division. "I was a C for 14 months! The position of Assistant Chief of DV opened up again and again I applied. This time Chief Assistant Don Horn came to my office to speak to me. He explained that I was not yet ready for that position. And then he proceeded to tell me what path to follow to be successful at my next attempt. He told me what types of cases I needed under my belt to make me a qualify as a serious candidate. For that I am grateful."

After 14 months as a C, she had tried attempted murder cases, kidnapping and other substantial types of cases. Then the office posted an opening for the position of Chief of County DV Court. "I had been a B for 6 weeks when I applied and got the job."

After she fulfilled that commitment, she became Chief of County Court where for the next three years, she guided new ASAs in learning how to be prosecutors and hone their skills.

Jackson followed that by spending one year in Career Criminal. "I had applied to the I.C.E. in Atlanta where I had done an internship after my first year of law school. I was fortunate that my current chief was deputy chief when I was interning there."

Jackson now works as Assistant Chief Counsel at the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, Department of Homeland Security, U.S, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta, Ga., where she represents the government in civil immigration cases.
"The trial experience and training that you receive at SAO is unmatched anywhere. When I speak with coworkers and other colleagues I realize that the evidence and ethics training, in addition to the experience of doing trials is like none other."
"What I have always loved about SAO is that State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Chief Assistant Don Horn always emphasizes justice over winning. You learn to think of the effect of the things you do in a case," Jackson reflects. "As prosecutors we see bad people but we see a lot of good people that make bad decisions. We need to do what is right and fair."
Those who know Jackson know that she is also an accomplished master baker. "My mother passed away when I was at SAO. To deal with my feelings of sadness and depression, I began to bake. In the beginning, I would give the goodies to my two doormen who enjoyed the treats."
Jackson who reading all that she could about cake making had no idea how this hobby would become an important part of her life.

"Then one day at my niece's birthday, I was admiring the cake and I said that I could make one just like that. My brother-in-law said I couldn't. And I showed him," she laughs.

Jackson went on to have a cake business for four years. Many at SAO were able to sample the delicious creations. "I even made cakes and cupcakes for our holiday party."

Upon moving back Atlanta, there wasn't much time for baking. She focused on her legal career and last year applied and was selected as an Immigration Judge.

While she prepares for the next step of her journey, she offers our current ASAs advice:

"Take time to learn and perfect your craft. Take advantage of the learning opportunities and advice from more experienced lawyers. Listen to those above you who have the experience and knowledge that will guide you correctly. Don't limit yourself. And most importantly, if you have a path in the office that you are interested in, tell someone that can help you create a plan for you to fulfill on it. SAO is full of opportunities."
We wish Suzanne Jackson the best on her new endeavors and are proud to have her represent the SAO a distinguished former ASA.


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