Today, Ernesto Perez is the president of for-profit Dade Medical College, but back in the early '90s Perez was known as "Rhett O'Neil," an almost-rock star.
Perez has twice been appointed by governors to serve on the Commission on Independent Education, but in both cases failed to disclose his conviction on charges of sexual assault of a child -- the details of which were first reported by Miami New Times.
Today, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle indicted Perez for lying about those charges while expunging his record in Miami.
Onstage he was Rhett O'Neil, the frontman for a hard-rocking band called Young Turk. In 1989, the group signed a six-figure deal with BMG Geffen. Following the release of their first album, Perez and his bandmates went on a U.S. tour. After a May 11 show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, they returned to their hotel and partied with fans, including a 15-year-old girl who engaged in consensual sex with some of the band members. But under Wisconsin law, consensual sex with a minor is still considered rape.
The four Young Turk members were arrested two months after the alleged incident. Perez pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery. He served six months in a Wisconsin jail following a failed appeal and today declines to discuss the matter, adding that it has no relevance to Dade Medical College or his plans for Homestead.
Perez has since reinvented himself as a for-profit college impresario and a major investor in Homestead real estate. He hopes to turn Homestead into something of a "college town, USA" with Dade Medical College at its center. This despite the fact that DMC students have abysmal passing rates on their nursing license exams.
But Perez's mission is now tripped up by his indictment. Here's the release from the State Attorney's Office:
On February 27, 2012, Perez completed an FDLE, Application for Certification of Eligibility to expunge a Miami area arrest. As part of the expungement process, Perez submitted a sworn and notarized "Affidavit in Support to Expunge" to the Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in September 2012, stating that he had never been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or a comparable ordinance violation. Based upon this sworn affidavit, the Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit issued an order expunging Perez' 2002 arrest on October 16, 2012.
In July of 2013, FDLE conducted a review of Ernesto Armando Perez' 2009, 2011, and 2012 "Senate Confirmation Questionnaires." These notarized documents were signed by Perez for appointment and re-appointment consideration to the Commission on Independent Education. On these documents, Perez failed to disclose his arrest and conviction in the State of Wisconsin.
Perez now stands charged with providing false information on a sworn statement (a third degree felony) and 1st degree misdemeanor charge of perjury.
Riptide left a message with a Dade Medical College spokeswoman about the charges; we'll update this post when we hear back.