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January 2023


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: Miami

Marcia Cooke, Florida’s First Female Federal Judge, Dies at 68

By Allan Lengel

Marcia G. Cooke, a former federal magistrate judge in Detroit who eventually became a federal judge in Miami, and handled high profile cases including the infamous “dirty bomber,” died Friday in Detroit after battling health issues in the past year. She was 68.

U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke

Cooke, a staunch Democrat, was appointed to the bench in Miami in 2004 by President George W. Bush and was confirmed by the Senate 96-0. She was the first Black female federal judge in Florida.

Cooke had inoperable cancer, and then last year underwent surgery in Florida for a pulmonary embolism after a trip to Australia, according to friends. She made a miraculous recovery from the surgery, but fell ill during a Christmas trip to Detroit, a town she never lost touch with, returning often for the holidays to see relatives and friends. She stepped down after her illness made it too challenging to remain on the bench.

Cooke was well regarded on the bench by prosecutors and defense attorneys in both Detroit and Miami. She was seen as a fair, smart, unpretentious judge with a good sense of humor, who never forgot her Detroit roots.

“She was an incredibly lovely, sweet, funny and strong person,” said Detroit criminal Defense attorney Robert Morgan.

Detroit criminal defense attorney Sanford Plotkin, who knew Cooke well recalled her “infectious laugh that sometimes I can still hear in my head to this day that brings a big smile to my face. She could humanize the federal courthouse, which federal benches sorely lack. They could use more Marcia Cooke’s.”  

Cooke graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1975 and went on to obtain a law degree from Wayne State University two years later.

She soon became a staff attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services in Michigan and in 1979 became deputy public defender of the Legal Aid and Defender Association in Michigan.

From 1980 to 1983, Cooke worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit and then went to work briefly in private practice. From 1984 to 1992, she worked as a federal magistrate judge in Detroit.

In 1992, she went to work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami as director of professional development and training and later became executive assistant U.S. Attorney.

She served as chief inspector general for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. After that, in 2002, she worked for two years as an assistant county attorney in Miami-Dade County. In 2004, she became a federal judge in Miami.

One of her first nationally-known cases in Miami involved Jose Padilla, aka the “dirty bomber,” who was initially held in military custody. He was eventually given a civilian trial before Cooke.

He was convicted by a Miami jury of plotting to release a radiological bomb in the U.S. and initially sentenced by Cooke in 2007 to 17 years. The 11th Circuit Court later ruled that the sentenced should have been harsher due to certain factors, and Cooke added four more years.

The Miami Herald reports:

If Padilla thought he had no legal rights in military custody, he quickly learned that federal court before Judge Cooke was a far different place. She immediately ordered the government not to shackle Padilla or the other two defendants during their court appearances on terrorism conspiracy charges. She ordered federal prosecutors to turn over final — not rough — translations of surveillance transcripts and other critical evidence to lawyers for Padilla and his co-defendants. She ordered the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to provide a bigger conference room for those attorneys to meet with their clients, who were in solitary confinement at the Miami Federal Detention Center, to prepare for trial.

Cooke always loved to talk to friends in Detroit to stay abreast of the goings-on in the community.

Metro Detroiter Missy Handler, a close friend of Cooke’s for many years, said:

“I had the privilege of knowing Marcia as a friend for over 30 years. She was so smart and well accomplished but at the same time, down to earth. She had the best sense of humor and a laugh that I’ll never forget. When I think of Marcia, I will always smile and be proud to have called her my friend.”

Close friend, attorney Ron Siegel of Metro Detroit, was heartbroken Friday. He and his wife Caryn Satovsky-Siegel, were very close with Cooke, who was their son Reid’s godmother.

“I am just devastated beyond words over the loss of my dear friend of 40 years (and Reid’s Godmother) Judge Marcia Cooke,” Siegel posted on Facebook Friday night. “After battling cancer and other illnesses over the last year, and making a valiant effort to go to Baltimore to, as she vowed, “dance with my Godson at his wedding,” she lost her battle with that goddamn dreaded disease, and I am so grateful that I got to spend time with her yesterday to tell her that I love her and to feel her squeeze my hand to let me know that she knew I was with her. I hope God has plans for her, because he’ll never get anyone better.”

On-Duty CBP Officer Fatally Shot at Gun Range in Florida

By Steve Neavling

A CBP firearms instructor was shot and killed during a training class at a Miami-area gun range Wednesday. 

The shooting occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m. at the range west of Miami, NBC News reports.

When police arrived, they found the wounded officer, who was later pronounced dead at a hospital. 

Details of the shooting were unclear Wednesday evening. 

Speaking to reporters, CBP spokesman Michael Silva described the officer as a husband and “just all-around great guy.”

The officer was assigned to Miami International Airport. 

“Great officer, a great family, and it’s a tragic loss,” Silva said at the news conference, according to live video by WPLG-TV of Miami.

Police are investigating. 

Walter Slosar Named Chief Patrol Agent in Charge of Border Patrol’s Miami Sector Headquarters

By Steve Neavling

Walter N. Slosar has been named chief patrol agent in charge of Border Patrol’s Miami Sector headquarters. 

Slosar replaces John Modlin, who now leads the Tucson Border Patrol Sector.  

Before the appointment, Slosar was serving as acting deputy chief patrol agent of the El Paso Sector. 

During his career with Border Patrol, Slosar has held a variety of supervisory, managerial and leadership positions, including patrol agent in charge of the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Fort Hancock, Texas, stations, assistant chief patrol agent at Border Patrol’s headquarters in Washington D.C., and division chief of operations for the El Paso Sector. 

“I am excited for this opportunity, and I am honored to serve alongside the dedicated men and women who make up the Miami Sector,” Slosar said in a statement. “The Miami Sector has established tremendous partnerships with law enforcement partners and stakeholders throughout Florida and the Caribbean. I look forward to working with all of our partners and supporting a unified effort to secure our coastal border and to protect our communities.”

Miami Man Charged with Opening Fire on FBI Task Force Members

By Steve Neavling

A Miami man has been charged with attempted murder and related offenses after he allegedly opened fire on two FBI task force officers and a local police officer in their unmarked SUV. 

The incident occurred on Jan. 31 while the three officers were on duty in the Homestead-Miami area. At about 8:30 p.m., Robert Mills, Jr., is accused of opening fire on the SUV while he was in the backseat of a parked car. 

The officers sped away to safety. 

Two dozen 9 mm bullet casings were found at the scene. 

Law enforcement later arrested Mills at a home in Miami. Officer recovered two guns, including a 9 mm pistol with an extended magazine in an attic of the house where Mills allegedly stashed it. 

If convicted on all the weapons charges, Mills faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison. The maximum penalty is life in prison. 

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Mills remain in jail without bond pending trial.

Street by Middle School Will Be Named After FBI Agent Killed in Line of Duty

FBI Agent Laura Schwartzenberger. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Laura Schwartzenberger, one of two FBI agents killed while serving a search warrant at a home in Florida last month, will have a street named after her outside a school where she taught students about the dangers of social media.

“She would always say, ‘I feel that coming here and talking about the hard stuff means that I won’t see you guys on my end,’ ” Rockway Middle School in Westchester said in a statement released after her death. “Laura’s commitment to and dedication to not just Rockway, but the community as a whole, will be missed.”

The school requested that a portion of Southwest 93rd Court be called “Laura Schwartzenberger Way.” Miami-Dade commissioners granted the request Tuesday, The Miami Herald reports.

“It seems she was very popular there,” Commissioner Javier Souto said.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade commissioners granted Rockway’s request to name the street outside the school after Schwartzenberger. The portion of Southwest 93rd Court between Coral Way and 32nd Street will also carry the name “Laura Schwartzenberger Way.”

Schwartzenberger, 43, joined the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office in 2005 and was transferred to Miami in 2010. She tracked suspects accused of exploiting children online. She had a husband and two children. 

FBI Seels Help Investigating ‘Most Prolific Serial Killer’ in U.S. History

Samuel Little, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is calling on the public to help in an ongoing investigation of a 79-year-old man who the bureau says is the “most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.”

His name is Samuel Little. Between 1970 and 2005, he says he strangled 93 victims.

FBI crime analysts say Little’s confessions are credible and have so far verified 50 of them. Some of the bodies have never been discovered, and some of the cases were originally ruled overdoses or accidental.

Samuel Little drew this victim.

For five years, analysts have used the bureau’s Violent Crime Apprehension Program (ViCAP) to link Little to the murders.

“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” ViCAP Crime Analyst Christie Palazzolo says in a detailed, multi-media news release.

Now the FBI is urging the public to help with the 43 unconfirmed confessions. On its website, the FBI posted some of Little’s illustrations of his victims, as well as video confessions in five cases.

“Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim – to close every case possible,” Palazzolo says.

The unverified confessions involve purported murders in Miami, Fla.; North Little Rock, Ark.; Covington, Kentucky; Las Vegas, Nev.; and New Orleans, La.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip online at

Grand Juror Who Leaked Information about ‘Snitch’ Sentenced to Prison

By Steve Neavling

A grand juror who leaked secret information about a “snitch” involved in a federal investigation was sentenced Thursday to one year and one day in prison for obstructing justice.

Leslie Lynn Heburn, 37, of Miami tracked down on social media the girlfriend of a man recently indicted to tell her that her boyfriend had been set up by a confidential informant.

Grand jurors are routinely warned they are prohibited from divulging information they learn during the grand jury proceedings.

Heburn, who earlier pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, acknowledged to a judge that she and other jurors had been warned about leaking information about the proceedings but did so anyway.

Assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida was assisted by the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force, Miami-Dade Police Department and the ATF.

FBI Foils Terrorist Plot to Blow Up Mall in South Florida

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling

The FBI foiled an alleged plot to detonate a bomb in a shopping mall in South Florida, arresting the suspect behind the planned attack.

The arrest of Miami resident Vicente Solano, an alleged ISIS sympathizer, came during an FBI sting operation, CBS News reports

The FBI, acting on a tip by a confidential informant, said the suspect was acting alone and was planning a large-scale attack on Dolphin Mall in Doral, near the Miami International Airport.

Solano planned to detonate what turned out to be a hoax bomb from undercover FBI agents.

Solano is expected to appear in Miami federal court today.