The South Region covers two counties, Miami-Dade and Monroe. Captain Steven Smith, a 24-year veteran with DIF, is also the statewide PIP coordinator and publishes a monthly newsletter called The PIP Source. In the Miami office, there are three squads, each dedicated to investigating PIP fraud. Working closely with the dedicated prosecutors at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office, they made 226 presentations and 227 arrests, resulting in a strong impact on PIP fraud in South Florida. There are three PIP squads in this region.
South Region Commander
Captain Steve Smith
Captain Smith has almost 32 years in state government. He graduated from Florida International University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and started with the Division of Insurance Fraud in 1988. He was promoted to captain of the south region in 2002 and supervises five squads (four PIP fraud squads and one general fraud squad). He was also appointed PIP fraud coordinator for the state in 2010.
South Region Lieutenants
Lieutenant Violeta Serrano
Lt. Violeta Serrano has been with the Division since 1999, originally hired under the Division’s trainee investigator program. She was the agency’s most productive detective before being promoted to lieutenant in 2004 to lead one of the PIP squads in Miami. Prior to joining DIF, Lt. Serrano was employed for a year by Miami Dade Police Department in uniform patrol. Lt. Serrano obtained her associate’s degree in criminology at Miami Dade College and a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology with a minor in sociology from Florida International University.
Lieutenant Stanley Jean-Felix
Lt. Stanley Jean-Felix began his law enforcement career in 2000 with the New York State Police as a state trooper in Orange and Rockland Counties. He joined the Division of Insurance Fraud in October 2003. At first, he was assigned to the Miami general fraud squad, and later was assigned to a Miami PIP squad. In October 2008, he was promoted to lieutenant of a newly formed Plantation PIP squad. In April 2010, he was transferred and assumed command of a Miami PIP squad.
Lt. Stanley Jean-Felix attained his undergraduate degree from John Jay College in criminology and his master’s degree in criminal justice from Florida International University. Lt. Jean-Felix is a certified fraud examiner under the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He is a graduate of Southern Police Institute Command Officers Development Course.
Lieutenant Missael Diaz
Lt. Diaz is a career law enforcement veteran with over 17 years of experience. Prior to joining the Division of Insurance Fraud, Missael served for both the Florida Highway Patrol and the Miami-Dade Police Department. In 2001, he began his career with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, as a detective assigned to the Miami General Fraud squad and in 2004 he moved to PIP squad #3 in Miami. In 2006 Missael was appointed to the position of Lead Detective and became a certified Field Training Officer for the Division in 2007. In June 2010, Missael was promoted to Lietuenant over Miami's fourth PIP squad.
Lt. Diaz has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from St. Thomas University, graduating Summa Cum Laude.
South Region Statistics
During the last fiscal year, the South Region received more than 4,800 referrals resulting in 262 cases opened, 244 presentations to prosecutors and 308 arrests.
Chiropractor David Louis Hirschenson, 55, was arrested for illegally soliciting accident victims and obtaining vehicle crash reports. Investigation revealed that Hirschenson used unauthorized media credentials to obtain crash reports illegally and use them to solicit accident victims. Hirschenson was charged with 19 counts of obtaining illegal crash reports and one count of solicitation. Case is pending trial.
Nester Sanchez, 39, and Chakira Vila Puentes, 45, owners of C & N Therapy Center, were arrested for insurance fraud and grand theft. Detectives determined that the husband and wife team operated an unlicensed accident clinic. The couple hired a massage therapist to act as a straw owner of the clinic, which allowed them to bill more than $353,000 in fraudulent PIP claims. The clinic was paid more than $212,000 for these billings. Case is pending trial.
Fernando Luis Lamazares, 48, of Miami, was arrested and charged with filing false claims against State Farm Insurance in 2012 and 2013, on behalf of his clinic, LMG Medical Center. Lamazares treated patients who staged accidents and allegedly fabricated treatment forms for services in excess of $42,000. Lamazares has been licensed as a massage therapist in Florida since 1991. Case is pending trial.