A recently fired Florida Highway Patrol officer is accused of helping a Miami Beach dentist get away with a 2015 hit and run accident that left a landscaper seriously injured while a body shop owner is accused of billing the dentist’s insurance company for work that he never performed.
State Trooper David Cassilas was fired from the force last month and charged on Tuesday with multiple offenses, including official misconduct.
“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing one of our troopers was arrested as a result of this investigation,” said Lt. Yosdany Veloz of the Florida Highway Patrol in Miami. “The Florida Highway Patrol does not tolerate any conduct that discredits the integrity of the division.”
The charges were the result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Miami Beach police, Florida Highway Patrol, Miami-Dade police and Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud.
Miami Beach dentist Jesus Enrique Del Valle was also charged on Tuesday with leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury and related offenses while body shop owner Ariel Perera was charged with filing a false insurance claim and other offenses.
All three men have been charged with participating in an organized scheme to defraud.
The Florida Highway Patrol conducted a public campaign last month to spread awareness of the problem of hit and run accidents. In 2016, there were 99,004 hit and run crashes in Florida with 15,851 resulting charges.
Under Florida law, a driver must stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property that results in injury or death, according to Florida Highway Patrol, which added that leaving the scene of a crash is a felony. If convicted, drivers have their licenses revoked for at least three years and can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of four years in prison, the agency said.
“In an effort to avoid prosecution for leaving the scene of an accident injury, it is alleged that a dentist, a former police officer and a body shop owner all committed a variety of serious crimes,” explained State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in announcing the charges. “This community has seen too many tragedies where injured people suffer on the side of our roads. This must stop.”
Casillas is accused of creating a false accident report that claimed the accident occurred seven days later than it really had on June 30, 2015. Moreover, the accident report said the dentist hit a palm tree with his Range Rover when he is accused of hitting a person who worked for Lewis Tree Service on Miami Beach.
The dentist allegedly brought his damaged Range Rover to an auto repair shop owned by his girlfriend’s cousin, who is accused of submitting inflated invoices for parts that were never replaced.
Of the 179 hit and run fatalities in 2016, more than 55 percent were for pedestrians, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
“This is not representative of the Florida Highway Patrol and we can assure the community that any violation of integrity and public trust will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately,” Veloz added.