Here at Riptide we do plenty of joking about mugshots and celebrating the sheer insanity that is life in the Sunshine State. But Miami New Times' staff writers also spend months investigating the kinds of stories that daily newspapers just don't have the time or resources to focus on any more.
In 2012, New Times investigations helped free a pro boxer who'd been in jail for more than two years on questionable charges, exposed Miami-Dade police for orchestrating a deadly raid and a shady pot bust, shone a light on doping at horse tracks and more. Our best investigative work of 2012:
New Times Frees Boxer Yathomas Riley, Jailed for Two Years Without Trial
For two years, Yathomas Riley -- once a promising heavyweight fighter with nationally televised bouts -- sat in Miami jail on charges that he'd shot his girlfriend in the head. But prosecutors ignored significant evidence, not least a criminal plot by Riley's girlfriend, a prison guard, to swindle Social Security Numbers from her inmates. After two New Times stories (here and here), prosecutors dropped charges and freed the boxer, crediting the paper with unearthing new evidence. "You put all the pieces together," Riley told New Times after leaving jail in August.
Miami-Dade Police Lured Robbers to the Redland, Then Shot Them
In this investigation, staff writer Michael E. Miller looked into a shocking blood bath in the Redland: Four would-be pot robbers, gunned down as they entered what they thought was a growhouse full of weed. In fact, they'd been carefully lured there by police. Miller's work raised serious questions about whether Miami-Dade police's method -- used again in several other deadly raids -- amounted to sanctioned executions.
Buju Banton Is Innocent
One of the year's biggest convictions came when a jury found reggae legend Buju Banton guilty of trying to buy several kilos of cocaine from a government informant. But as staff writer Chris Sweeney reported, that informant was a snitch with an extensive criminal history and financial motives to see Buju sent to jail.
Miami-Dade TNT Unit Loses the War on Drugs and Liberty City's Trust
Every year, the Miami-Dade police trumpet a holiday effort called "Santa's Helper," where hundreds in black neighborhoods are charged with low-level drug crimes while police simultaneously hand out toys to kids. Staff writer Francisco Alvarado looked deeper and found the program to be a colossal waste of resources that resulted in almost no convictions -- but plenty of ill will in Miami's poorest neighborhoods.
Bosco Enriquez Was Beaten and Raped After Helping Miami Cops Bust Latin Gangs
In the shadowy world of snitches, Bosco Enriquez was one of the most useful to Miami police, dangerously using his ties to the deadly International Posse as a 15-year-old. But editor Chuck Strouse's three-part series (which continues here and here) showed how police abandoned the teenager to brutal beatings, prison rapes and deportation after he was no longer useful.
Cheaters Prosper at Calder Race Course
Michael E. Miller's investigation of one of Florida's premiere race tracks painted an ugly picture of the modern horse racing industry: The tracks most-winning jockey had been busted dozens of times for doping his horses and lawsuits alleged mass fixes by owners and trainers, and a federal case sent two men to prison over a $5 million fraud at the course.
Murder-Suicide in the Keys Unravels a Doctor's Decades-Long Mystery
When an elderly man named Glen Tucker killed his wife, Virginia, his cat and then himself in their Florida Keys home, most everyone thought it was a typically sad end-of-life murder-suicide. But managing editor Tim Elfrink's piece found that Tucker had hidden a deep secret from all his neighbors: He'd once been one of Wisconsin's most prominent plastic surgeons, but faked his own death and fled to the Keys decades ago to run from accusations of brutal malpractice.
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Otis Wallace, Florida City's "Mayor For Life," Is Corrupt With Power
For decades, Otis Wallace -- the long-serving mayor of Florida City -- has been one of South Florida's political constants. But as Michael E. Miller's investigation showed, Wallace's long term in office corrupted him into a multi-millionaire landowner in one of Dade's poorest towns, accused of rigging elections, engineering shady land deals and even kicking his own sister out of their deceased mother's home.