Stripteases, sexual favors, booze, porn mags, and fat stacks of cash would be run-of-the-mill in many Miami strip clubs. But at downtown's maximum security Federal Detention Center?
Multiple attorneys interviewed by Riptide say the FDC visitor rooms have been taken over by South American pole dancers posing as paralegals for wealthy drug lords inside. Lawyers hired by the accused narco dons allegedly list the scantily clad women as "legal assistants," and the FDC lets them in. Meanwhile, attorneys who refuse to go along risk losing their clients to lawyers with busty beauties on staff.
"They take off their tops and let the guys touch them," veteran defense attorney Hugo Rodriguez says. "The majority of these young, very attractive women are noncitizens brought in exclusively for the purposes of visiting the FDC. Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant. There is no way of verifying it. The process is being abused."
The accusations are difficult to prove. An FDC spokeswoman declined to comment, and prison officials refused Riptide's requests for any incident reports on faux paralegals being tossed from the facility.
But attorneys swear the scam is ongoing. One "discovery room" normally used to discuss trial strategy was recently closed, they say, after guards caught an inmate and a paralegal "discovering" more than legal documents.
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"Everyone knows about it," says a private investigator who is familiar with the FDC and asked not to be named. "We call them the 'little hoochie mamas'... They are making a mockery out of the prison system here."
Among the offenses allegedly committed by so-called paralegals: smuggling in a Playboy, feeding alcohol to an inmate by slipping a straw through a grate, and sneaking in $3,000 inside a purse.
In a scene straight out of a porno, one woman was caught on video stripping for an inmate in the jail's Special Housing Unit, attorneys say. The stripper was banned from the FDC.
Female lawyers say the phony paralegals are an embarrassment.
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"I find it offensive," says an attorney who asked to remain anonymous. "This is still kind of a male-dominated profession. We try to be taken seriously, but these women aren't helping."
Not every lawyer is up in arms over the FDC fiasco, however.
"If you want some good people-watching, try the FDC," attorney Marc Seitles says. "It certainly beats paying a cover and waiting on lines to get into LIV."