WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale Tue, 16 Apr 2024 09:19:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale 32 32 What happened after HMH aired? Tue, 16 Apr 2024 03:34:22 +0000 He was losing his home, she paid a debt relief company and got no relief. They contacted Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser, but what happened after we aired the stories? Here is tonight’s update.

For more than two years, Naomi Brown’s 11 children had watched as her home sat in foreclosure.

Theodis Jones: “With sleepless nights, it’s been rough on me. Depressed. It’s been hard.”

Hard because his mother left the house to Theodis, and he was the one who was losing it.

Theodis Jones: “My ex-girlfriend went behind my back and took two loans off of this house without my knowledge of it.”

Let’s back up to 2021, when Theodis’ ex, Adrienne McSweeney, went to a private lender to borrow $120,000 using Theodis’ house as collateral.

She was accused of pulling it off by stealing Theodis’ driver’s license and getting this guy to pretend to be Theodis.

Theodis Jones: “The picture didn’t match.”

A few months later, the lender began to foreclose on the house.

Theodis Jones: “It’s been a crime committed against me and the people trying to take my property.”

When Theodis contacted McSweeney and told her he was calling the police, she texted back, “All I ask is time to fix it. Less than eight weeks.”

Patrick Fraser: “So you’re going to lose your mama’s house?”

Theodis Jones: “I don’t want to lose it, not if you can help me.”

Mark Mastrarrigo then stepped in to represent Theodis.

He had the pictures from the closing, but most importantly, a handwriting expert.

This is the impostor’s signature. This is Theodis’.

Mark Mastrarrigo: “And she gave us her highest of highest variability. That is not Theodis’ signature.”

Mark had bank statements that showed McSweeney got the money. But the lender told me they were convinced Theodis and McSweeney worked together.

Another year passed. Then, after a deposition with Theodis, the attorney for the title insurance company was convinced Theodis was the victim. They paid the lender the $120,000 back, and the foreclosure against Theodis was dismissed.

Mark Mastrarrigo: “We won, but he won. His house was at stake.”

Mark handed the judge’s order to Theodis. His house was free and clear again.

Theodis Jones: “I can’t even imagine explaining how I feel right now. It’s a blessing.”

It was a long battle that took a good determined lawyer to save Theodis.

Patrick Fraser: “Theodis couldn’t have done this on its own, could he?”

Mark Mastrarrigo: “Absolutely not, and if you don’t have somebody on your side that knows what they’re doing, that’s going to do the right thing, chances are you’re going to get a bad result.”

The judge also ordered the title insurance company to pay Theodis’ legal fees. Another victory for him.

Theodis Jones: “I thank everybody — I thank you, I thank Howard, I thank my attorney Mark, my family. It’s been real rough, man, two years and four months.”

Speaking of winning, remember Karen Dematas, who hired a debt relief company?

Karen Dematas: “I’ve heard about debt relief companies, and I just thought that it was good.”

She had an $11,000 credit card bill. CDS debt relief told her they would get the debt wiped out if she paid them $199 a month. She did.

Karen Dematas: ‘And I would be debt free within a year, a year and a half. That’s what they told me.”

For six months, Karen paid them, then found out they didn’t get her debt lowered at all.

She asked us to get her $1,200 back. But we discovered the company closed one office in West Palm Beach, then another, and the registered owner didn’t return my dozen phone calls.

Patrick Fraser: “I tried. I could not get them to give the money back.”

Karen Dematas: “I understand, I understand. It’s sad, but I understand.”

Our story aired. And then…

Karen Dematas: “He sent three payments through Zelle: one $500, one $500 and then $200.”

The debt relief company returned Karen’s $1,200.

Karen Dematas: “Because Channel 7 showed and made the report on him, and I guess he felt guilty.”

A nice, unexpected surprise.

Karen Dematas: “I was really shocked. I was really shocked.”

A good shock, but Karen still has that big credit card debt and no way to pay it.

As for the woman accused of taking $120,000 in Theodis’ case, Miami-Dade Police are still investigating, but they haven’t charged her with anything.

Losing a battle that’s devastating you? Need someone you can trust? Air your story with us, to cheer you up and spread your good news.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Accused scammer used people’s phones to send himself money, police say; woman who was targeted speaks out Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:59:40 +0000 Police have arrested a man who, they said, conned people into letting them use their phones to send himself money. Now a victim is speaking out about her encounter with the serial scammer.

The victim, who asked not to be identified, said it started as a day at the beach for her and her friend back in December.

“This is right before the incident, because we’re all smiles,” she said as she showed pictures to 7News.

The victim said she and her friend ran into the suspect.

“[He] told me he was a musician and asked to add himself on Instagram,” she said.

The victim said the man introduced himself as a performer and artist looking to reach a larger audience through social media.

“[I told him], ‘Sure, I’ll follow you. You’re a musician. Let me give you some support. Cool, I get it,'” she said.

The victim said she handed her cellphone to the man so he could set her up to follow him on Instagram.

“It all happened so fast,” she said.

“Fast” and, police said, fraudulent.

“It was less than an hour when I saw an email that said I had $1,200, through Venmo, [sent] to this stranger,” said the victim.

The man was gone and so was $1,200 from her Venmo account, and that’s when the victim realized she had been scammed.

“I knew immediately what had happened,” she said.

Now she wants her story out there as a warning to others.

“It was, like, this sense of panic,” she said.

This woman is not alone. Police said she’s one of several people who were scammed in Miami Beach by the same man, who’s allegedly worked with others.

The problem is so bad, police are making videos to make people aware, like a recent clip posted by Miami Beach Police.

“It’s essential that you remain vigilant, and be aware of any potential scams,” said a spokesperson for the police department in the video.

Thr video also recreates a potential scamming scenario to show how con artists pose as club promoters or entertainment types, promising club access, drink vouchers and other perks to unsuspecting victims.

“These individuals are accessing money transferring apps and sending themselves large amounts of money while in possession of your phone,” said the Miami Beach Police spokesperson.

The victim who spoke with 7News said the scammer who targeted her sent cash and a gift emoji to another Venmo account, as seen in screenshot she provided.

But police would catch up with the suspect, identified as James Plitsas, whom they re-arrested,

Police said he has been busted three more times since the December duping of the victim on the beach.

In a statement, a Miami Beach Police spokesperson wrote, “Through a meticulous operation and the strategic utilization of social media, MBPD investigators were able to successfully apprehend the defendant.”

As for the victim, she has a message for the public.

“Listen to your gut instinct, and never hand a stranger your phone,” she said.

Plitsas remains locked up. He faces numerous charges in connection to at least four open cases, including grand theft and fraud. .

NASA confirms mystery object that crashed through roof of Florida home came from space station Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:47:07 +0000 NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — NASA confirmed Monday that a mystery object that crashed through the roof of a Florida home last month was a chunk of space junk from equipment discarded at the International Space Station.

The cylindrical object that tore through the home in Naples on March 8 was subsequently taken to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral for analysis.

The space agency said it was a metal support used to mount old batteries on a cargo pallet for disposal. The pallet was jettisoned from the space station in 2021, and the load was expected to eventually fully burn up on entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but one piece survived.

The chunk of metal weighed 1.6 pounds (0.7 kilograms) and was 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall and roughly 1 1/2 inches (4 centimeters) wide.

Homeowner Alejandro Otero told television station WINK at the time that he was on vacation when his son told him what had happened. Otero came home early to check on the house, finding the object had ripped through his ceiling and torn up the flooring.

“I was shaking. I was completely in disbelief. What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage,” Otero said. “I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”

Boil water advisory issued for section of Hollywood due to potential contaminants Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:46:12 +0000 Officials have issued a precautionary boil water advisory for parts of Hollywood.

City officials on Monday issued the advisory following a water line repair.

The advisory applies to utility customers who live between north of Grant Street to south of Arthur Street and between 65th and 66th avenues.

Although repairs have already been made, officials said, potential contaminants may still be in the tap water.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down airport highways and key bridges in major US cities Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:15:48 +0000 CHICAGO (AP) — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked roadways in Illinois, California, New York and the Pacific Northwest on Monday, temporarily shutting down travel into some of the nation’s most heavily used airports, onto the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges and on a busy West Coast highway.

In Chicago, protesters linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 leading into O’Hare International Airport around 7 a.m. in a demonstration they said was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine,” according to Rifqa Falaneh, one of the organizers.

Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was snarled for hours as demonstrators shut down all vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and chained themselves to 55-gallon drums filled with cement across Interstate 880 in Oakland. Protesters marching into Brooklyn blocked Manhattan-bound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. In Eugene, Oregon, protesters blocked Interstate 5, shutting down traffic on the major highway for about 45 minutes.

O’Hare warned travelers on the social platform X to take alternative forms of transportation with car travel “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity.”

Some travelers stuck in standstill traffic left their cars and walked the final leg to the airport along the freeway, trailing their luggage behind them.

Among them was Madeline Hannan from suburban Chicago. She was headed to O’Hare for a work trip to Florida when her and her husband’s car ended up stalled for 20 minutes. She got out and “both ran and speed walked” more than a mile (1.6 kilometers). She said she made it to the gate on time, but barely.

“This was an inconvenience,” she said in a telephone interview from Florida. “But in the grand scheme of things going on overseas, it’s a minor inconvenience.”

While individual travelers may have been affected, operations at the airport appeared near normal with delays of under 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Inbound traffic toward O’Hare resumed around 9 a.m.

Near Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation said a demonstration closed the main road to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Social media posts showed people holding a banner and waving Palestinian flags while standing on the highway. State authorities urged people to use light rail instead.

About 20 protesters were arrested at the Golden Gate Bridge demonstration and traffic resumed shortly after noon, according to the California Highway Patrol. The agency said officers were making arrests at two points on the interstate, including one spot where roughly 300 protesters refused orders to disperse,

“Attempting to block or shut down a freeway or state highway to protest is unlawful, dangerous, and prevents motorists from safely reaching their destinations,” the agency said in a statement.

Oregon State Police said 52 protestors were were arrested for disorderly conduct following the Interstate 5 protest in Eugene, Oregon, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of Portland. Six vehicles were towed from the scene.

New York Police made numerous arrests, saying 150 protesters were initially involved in the march around 3:15 p.m., but that number quickly grew. The bridge was fully reopened by 5 p.m.

In Chicago, dozens of protesters were arrested, according to Falaneh. Chicago police said Monday that “multiple people” were taken into custody after a protest where people obstructed traffic, but they did not have a detailed count.

Protesters say they chose the location, in part, because O’Hare is one of the largest airports. Among other things, they’ve called for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Anti- war protesters have demonstrated in Chicago near daily since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed around 1,200 people. Israeli warplanes and ground troops have conducted a scorched-earth campaign on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Will Smith surprises Coachella with ‘Men in Black’ performance Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:14:51 +0000 (CNN) — Will Smith dusted off his black suit and Ray Bans for a surprise performance at Coachella.

The actor and musician made a cameo during J Balvin’s Sunday night set at the music festival, singing his 1997 hit “Men in Black” from the film of the same name.

Smith, who starred in three “Men in Black” movies, showed up toward the end of Balvin’s extraterrestrial-themed set, sporting the iconic look that became synonymous with the alien-fighting agents in the film.

With green aliens dancing in the background, Smith sang a portion of the catchy tune and resurrected dance moves from the music video. (Balvin’s performance and Smith’s cameo were shown on Coachella’s YouTube livestream.)

Fittingly, Smith closed his performance with a reference to the movie, whipping out a memory-erasing neuralyzer and disappearing as quickly as he appeared. This was a performance, however, that attendees and live streamers alike are unlikely to forget.

In the “Men in Black” franchise, Smith starred as Agent J, a former NYPD detective who is recruited to serve in a secret organization that deals with all extraterrestrial matters. Smith starred alongside Tommy Lee Jones.

The song that accompanied the film was from Smith’s debut solo album “Big Willie Style.”

It won Smith a Grammy Award in 1998.

Giants rally with 3 runs in 7th to beat NL-worst Marlins. Miami manager Skip Schumaker is tossed Tue, 16 Apr 2024 02:05:14 +0000 MIAMI (AP) — Jung Hoo Lee had two hits, including a tying single in the seventh inning, and the San Francisco Giants overcame an early three-run deficit to beat the NL-worst Miami Marlins 4-3 on Monday night.

The Marlins fell to 3-14, and their frustration boiled over in the bottom of the eighth when plate umpire Laz Díaz ejected manager Skip Schumaker. Earlier, Schumaker emerged from the dugout and had a heated exchange with Díaz but wasn’t tossed. During Nick Gordon’s pinch-hit appearance, Schumaker again stepped out of the dugout and exchanged words with Díaz before he was ejected.

Kyle Harrison (2-1) allowed three runs in six innings. The rookie left-hander gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out two.

Down 3-1, the Giants rallied with a three-run seventh against relievers George Soriano (0-1) and Andrew Nardi. Patrick Bailey’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2 before consecutive RBI singles from Lee and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores.

Tyler Rogers relieved Harrison and threw a scoreless seventh, and Ryan Walker got the first two outs in the eighth. Camilo Doval closed, throwing the final 1 1/3 innings for his second save.

Miami’s Edward Cabrera struck out 10 and allowed one run and five hits over six innings in his season debut. The right-hander had been sidelined with a right shoulder impingement.

Cabrera became the second Marlins starter to complete six innings this season. Max Meyer did it twice before he was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville on Monday to make room for Cabrera on the roster.

Avisaíl García’s leadoff homer and Bryan De La Cruz’s two-run double in the second put Miami ahead 3-0.

The Giants narrowed the margin on Michael Conforto’s RBI single in the fourth.


Marlins: Placed infielder Jake Burger on the injured list because of a left intercostal muscle strain and recalled infielder Otto López from Jacksonville. … LHP Braxton Garrett (left shoulder impingement) experienced “dead arm” discomfort after his bullpen session, Schumaker said. … C Christian Bethancourt (illness) was not with the club.


RHP Jordan Hicks (2-0, 1.00 ERA) will start for the Giants on Tuesday. The Marlins will go with LHP Ryan Weathers (1-1, 2.57).

Alison Brie, Tony Goldwyn attend 41st Miami Film Festival to show new works, receive Art of Light Award Tue, 16 Apr 2024 01:10:56 +0000 Sheryl Lee Ralph wasn’t the only superstar bringing a piece of Hollywood to the Magic City during the 41st Miami Film Festival. Alison Brie and Tony Goldwyn also rolled into town, and they looked pretty good, too.

Don’t worry, Brie happy! Alison stopped by the Regal South Beach for a special showing of her new series, “Apples Never Fall.”

She dished with Deco about having two legends, Annette Bening and Sam Neill, play her parents in the show.

Alison Brie: “It was the best! I mean, I was a little nervous to meet them both, but they are the warmest, kindest people you could ever imagine, and right away, we all really felt like a family. There was this immediate chemistry with everybody, and it just was magical, truly. Like just – they’re cool cats.”

Alison also received the festival’s Art of Light Award.

Tony got one, too. He closed out the festival with his new film, “Ezra,” which he both stars in and directs.

His greatest takeaway from making the movie?

Tony Goldwyn: “To celebrate the things that make us individuals, as opposed to – we’re conditioned to think that we should just fit within defined lanes, and I’ve really been reminded that that’s just so – the opposite is true.”

The film is very close to Tony’s heart because his best friend wrote it. You can catch “Ezra” in theaters May 31.

‘Abbott Elementary’ star Sheryl Lee Ralph receives Miami Film Fest’s Precious Gem Award Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:58:38 +0000 It’s a wrap on the 2024 Miami Film Festival, but it wouldn’t be a proper SoFlo sendoff without some major star power.

Sheryl Lee Ralph hit up the 305 over the weekend.

She was in town to receive the fest’s signature Precious Gem Award. It’s reserved for people whose contributions to film and TV leave a lasting legacy.

Sheryl told Deco what the award means to her, and she even had a special message for us.

Sheryl Lee Ralph: “I look at my career now, and I’m just so very thankful that I would be presented with an award that says, ‘You are a precious gem.’ I love that. And I love Deco Drive!”

Sheryl also took part in a special presentation and spoke about her career, especially her award-winning role in “Abbott Elementary.” She says one of the most important lessons she’s learned is not to be afraid to rewrite the script of her own life.

Get a taste of Texas-style BBQ at B&D Trap in Fort Lauderdale Tue, 16 Apr 2024 00:23:12 +0000 Texas is known for a lot of things, and one of the best things to come out of the Lone Star State is their style of barbecue.

Foodies can get a taste of the real thing at a new SoFlo hot spot. No horse or cowboy hat needed here.

When it comes to serving up real Central Texas barbecue, B&D Trap in Fort Lauderdale isn’t just blowing smoke.

Orelle Young: “We are the first authentic Texas barbecue restaurant here in Fort Lauderdale.”

When you get here, get ready for a very tasty ride.

Orelle Young: “B&D Trap barbecue is a journey that we’d like to invite our guests on. We would like to introduce authentic Texas barbecue to South Florida.”

The dishes served up have been around for a long time.

Orelle Young: “I’d say it’s over a century in the making. You had a lot of German immigrants and families that came and opened up grocery stores and meat markets. They had to figure out something to do with their meats, so they did what they knew best. They smoke their meats.”

One trap you won’t fall into is getting your food slathered in sauce. That’s a no-no at B&D.

Orelle Young: “We eat meat because we enjoy the flavor of meat. We don’t want sauce for the same reason we don’t use hickory or mesquite: super strong, overpowering. We don’t want to cover anything up. We’re not masking anything. We want you to enjoy the meat for what it is.”

Their cooking technique will definitely rub you the right way.

Orelle Young: “We have special dry rubs. I call them our signature dry rubs. I have a special dry rub for each type of meat.”

Sauce-heads, you are not excluded. There’s some of your favorite stuff on the sandwiches. The small but mighty menu features two beers and sides like mac and cheese.

If you’re looking for ribs, get ready for a plateful of plenty.

Orelle Young: “But we’re a Texas barbecue, we had to go full-size spare ribs. We want some super meaty ribs, you’re looking at some center cuts that, I guess, sometimes weigh a third to a half-pound each. Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for: large and in-charge ribs.”

B&D is part of the revitalization of Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Boulevard. It sounds like they were made for the neighborhood.

Orelle Young: “There’s parties and people smoking and grilling meats down the block that way. The same thing that way, the culture’s already here. Now we have a place for people to do less work and come and enjoy the food.”

Laura Cugno: “Absolutely amazing! The brisket melted in the mouth, and this spot is pretty dope.”

B&D Trap
1551 NW 6th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311