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Career Criminal Uses Hurricane Relief Efforts to Scheme Companies

— August 22, 2018

Career Criminal Uses Hurricane Relief Efforts to Scheme Companies

Emilio Vázquez, 47, of Coral Gables, was sentenced to a decade in federal prison and made to pay $1.5 million in restitution for wire fraud he committed against companies earlier this month.  The crook, currently being held in the Miami Federal Detention Center, had already served two prison terms for fraud, and is still wanted in Orange County for violating a fifteen-year probation by moving away from the county.  Seminole County also wants Vázquez for uttering a forged instrument and grand theft auto committed in 2013.

According to court documents, Vázquez said he was Emilio Serralles, a scion of the Serralles family that makes Don Q rum, when he requested to purchase five storage units from Doral’s Commercial Property Group last September for housing Puerto Rico hurricane relief supplies.  Vázquez gave the group a UBS bank cashier’s check for $122,050.50, which was later discovered to be fraudulent.

According to records, Vázquez also used the Emilio Serralles name and claimed to own the “Puerto Rico Relief Committee” when he chartered multiple flights to Puerto Rico the through charter company Miami Air International using yet another fraudulent cashier’s check – that one from American Express Centurion Bank for $564,036.35.  Two days later, Vázquez made a $2 million pledge during October’s “We Are One Voice — Somos Live!” benefit concert. Famed talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, spoke to him about his donation.

Career Criminal Uses Hurricane Relief Efforts to Scheme Companies
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

However, the checks written for both companies would eventually bounce.  Vázquez said he was in London dealing with his daughter’s funeral when the scam was discovered.  He tried to pacify the recipients by sending them screenshots of bank statements from multi-million-dollar bank accounts that were also fake.  “I guarantee you on my beautiful daughter’s grave that you will have the wire transfer on the update tonight,” Vázquez e-mailed Commercial Property Group.  Miami Air asked Vázquez pay in cash instead, and he e-mailed he would, but he “was in London waiting for the paperwork for his daughter to be completed.”

The Department of Corrections indicated Vázquez used the same story about a deceased daughter when he missed a Feb. 11, 2016, appointment with his probation officer who never saw him again after that.  He does not have any daughter.  “He uses this story as a ruse,” his sister, Vivian Vázquez, said.  When the probation officer went to his apartment, from which he was about to be evicted for paying with fraudulent checks, she said it was completely empty.

In January, a report said that Vázquez tried to buy three homes from Laureate Park Home Builders with bad checks.  He had also drained his elderly father’s bank accounts and caused his father to be evicted from his assisted living facility by paying with fraudulent checks.  On Feb. 13, 2016, Vázquez bought several private jet flights from FlexJet with a $1.5 million fake check.

When the Miami companies confronted Vázquez, he told them to contact his attorney, Anthony Accetta.  “He tried to hire me, but I told him we had discovered his true name and criminal history.  He even told me that was his twin brother, who is the black sheep of the family,” said Accetta, a former prosecutor. “The man sat in my office and all he did was lie, lie, lie.”


He sent planes to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Now, he’s behind bars.

He said he was a rum scion leading storm relief. But he didn’t profit from the fraud

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