The Money Laundering Investigation
“At this time no subpoenas obtained or served.” Date of Chart 11/15/2013
“At this time no subpoenas obtained or served.” Those words were stamped to the upper side of the photo array. It’s a clear depiction of an organized crime investigation.
The date of the chart is significant. I was a police captain and a state witness in a case involving document tampering by Homestead Police Internal Affairs. Above, highlighted in blue, is a broad narrative painting a picture of a criminal organization. To the casual observer, a major money-laundering investigation is underway. What’s missing are the investigative documents:
Any legitimate investigation strives to find evidence and get to the truth. No matter how complex the situation may be, the basic principles of an investigation are elementary. Follow the evidence, determine the facts, and publish your findings.
A police officer is taught to document everything in a report from day one. Pull a case number and write the report. It’s the Basic 1,2,3s of police work.
So, we have a case of a sophisticated money-laundering scheme. Bankers, real estate brokers, lawyers, public officials, and police officers are involved. They have created a complex photo array detailing names, addresses, real estate transactions, business information, personal financial information, and the relationships of all involved.
The War Room.
A conference room at city hall. A place for the well connected to be briefed. One could expect boxes of files, paperwork from the lead investigator, and reports from all of the investigative team. There should be solid data identifying each investigator, witnesses, and complainant information. Are there statements from those involved? The answer is no. The war room was essentially a stage. A room with a large display version of the flow chart and a short narrative visible to sell the story.
If this were real, it would not be occurring in a city hall conference room with a parade of onlookers. It would be happening in a secure law enforcement environment. With the who’s who in local banking involved, the FBI would have been at the forefront of the investigation. State and Federal Prosecutors would have been on speed dial.
Detectives and Social Media
In 2014-15, Monica, my wife ran into an acquaintance with whom she had lost touch. This person happens to be pretty well connected in the community. After an awkward moment during their greeting, her friend began to tell a story.
Months earlier, two detectives visited her home. They identified themselves as HPD Internal Affairs, a female and a male. They were carrying a file and had been monitoring our social media, they had questions for this person. The questioning surrounded Monica’s Facebook posts where this person had liked, shared, or commented on some of the postings.
The detectives explained an ongoing corruption investigation was underway and began to ask about her relationship with Monica. They informed her that I was at the heart of their probe, and they were uncovering corruption.
After this visit from the police, Monica’s friend unfriended her on social media and quietly disappeared. Hence, the awkward greeting months later. The story caught us off guard, so we scratched our heads and moved on. That is until 2020.
Secret Files Revealed.
Former Homestead City Manager George Gretsas left to become the new manager at The City of Delray Beach. According to Published Reports, Gretsas fired the Delray Information & Technology Director, who refused to allow an off-network server to be connected to the managers’ office. An off-network server would allow files and documents to be stored in secret.
Mr. Gretsas was escorted off of the property before he could retrieve items from his office. Later found in his Delray Beach office was a series of thumb drives containing files from Homestead. The files found in Delray form the basis of this saga.
Public Records Request
Once I was provided with the files from Delray Beach, I began to submit a series of public records requests to Homestead. Obviously the money laundering investigation was a shock.
Take a look at the following requests and responses, and I’ll see you on the other side.
No Records Found
Police Internal Affairs confirmed that I.A. Detective Rick Rivera led something called an inquiry into Money-Laundering. They refuse to call it an investigation, even though the word investigation is used throughout the document. There are no records, and all other information is a mystery.
What is known is the photo array was prominently placed inside a city hall conference room. A wall-size version of the display was used as a prop. It has been described as the war room. A room used by public officials to sell a story.
One person told me they were in the war room looking across the conference table. Seated on the other side with their backs to the organized crime chart were City Manager George Gretsas and the city’s contracted attorney Richard Weiss. This person said that looking above Mr. Weiss’s head, my picture was prominently placed at the top of the wall, and all of the other images were connected by strings fanning down.
Another person recalls telling George Gretsas, “looks like your investigating the mafia.”
A Faked Investigation
Imagine that you are Monica’s friend being interviewed by the police. Two detectives, genuine gold badges, real guns, and absolute power of arrest. Most importantly, they hold a position of trust.
You would never dream that the corruption investigation is nothing more than a sophisticated smear campaign. While you answer questions about Facebook posts you liked or shared, you’re staring at an open case file. The syndicate flow chart is clearly visible. A folder titled Official Investigative File, narratives including terms like,
“Official Investigative File-The Investigation-Money Laundering and our investigation” are all eye-catching.
The photo array with me at the top looks like I just stumbled out of happy hour five, “Drinks” down. Below me and connected as if we are a crime family are all well-known members of the South Dade community. Easily recognizable faces, some loved, some hated, but each serves a purpose on the propaganda chart.
In addition to the false narratives and the photos, there are the captions. Some truths are mixed with lies. All designed to highlight anything negative, embarrassing, or harmful to my family and me. Remember the person who shared the emails? “Leak, Smear, Debase, Destroy, Courtesy of City Hall.”