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Miami-Dade officer to raise money for cop slain in Puerto Rico

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  • Miami-Dade officer to raise money for cop slain in Puerto Rico

    Miami-Dade officer to raise money for cop slain in Puerto Rico


    Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/1...#ixzz1MHVnfNkl


    By JAMES H. BURNETT III and DAVID OVALLE
    [email protected]

    As Miami-Dade police asked for donations for the family of slain officer Juan Aviles and detectives continued hunting his killer, prosecutors said Friday they are evaluating how his death would affect a high-profile racketeering case in which he was a key witness.

    Aviles, shot to death Thursday while on vacation in Puerto Rico, was a witness in the Miami-Dade case against Wackenhut, now known as GS4, the security firm accused of overbilling taxpayers for work never performed in patrolling Metrorail stations.

    “At this time we are evaluating the impact of this tragic death on our pending criminal cases,” said Ed Griffith, a Miami-Dade state attorney’s spokesman.

    Aviles, 34, worked for Wackenhut from 2000 to 2003. According to court documents, he complained to executives that his immediate boss ordered him to falsify logs showing certain Metrorail guard posts were being staffed when they were not.

    He later wrote a memo complaining of the practice, and was suspended briefly, according to the state. Aviles eventually left the company after the practice of “ghost” staffing continued.

    In all, eight current or ex-Wackenhut executives are awaiting trial; they have pleaded not guilty. Investigators believe Wackenhut falsely billed between $3 million and $5 million, a number the company disputes.

    Aviles and his sister, Jazmine Plaza Otero, 21, were found shot to death near their rental car on the side of a remote road in Villalba, Puerto Rico shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday. No arrests have been made, while two Miami-Dade police homicide investigators have been dispatched the island for support.

    Miami-Dade Cmdr. Nancy Perez, a spokeswoman, said Friday: “They are not meddling in the case, but they are there to bridge communications.”

    Detectives in Puerto Rico have not pinned down a motive, but are looking at a possible squabble at a bar the siblings had been at earlier in the night. Robbery could also be a motive — the newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported that a large amount of money was missing from Aviles and his sister.

    Puerto Rican police also investigating any possible drug connections. Aviles had three envelopes of a suspicious white powder in his pocket. Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reports on its website that police in Puerto Rico have confirmed the powder was cocaine.

    Back in Miami-Dade, the Police Officer Assistance Trust has begun raising money for the family’s funeral arrangements.

    Aviles is survived by his wife of 15-months, Vanessa Marie Alvarez, also a Miami-Dade police officer, their 3-week old twin daughters, a son who is almost 2-years-old, and a daughter Alvarez had from a previous relationship.

    Miami-Dade Officer Josie Ayala, godmother to the Aviles’ twins and young son, said Friday family and friends of the victim were struggling to cope and that Aviles’ widow was “taking things one minute at a time, one second at a time.”

    “It’s a tragic loss and we’re going through it as good as we can,” Ayala, choking back tears, said. “Juan was a great friend ... a great dad, great husband. We’re going to miss him. There are four children who are going be missing their daddy very much.”

    Anyone who wishes to donate to the police trust fund can pay via credit card at www.poat.org, or send a check to the Police Officer Assistance Trust 1030 NW 111 Ave., Miami, Florida, 33172. The memo line should read “Officer Juan Aviles Trust Fund.”



    Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/1...#ixzz1MHVYdAhk
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