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Former Hialeah firefighter accused of selling certifications without training

Former Hialeah firefighter jailed for fraud
Former Hialeah firefighter jailed for fraud 00:30

MIAMI - A retired City of Hialeah firefighter with 20 years of experience has been arrested after being accused of the alleged sale of American Heart Association (AHA) certifications without training the recipients.

On Friday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez III announced the arrest of 60-year-old Carlos Ernesto Rojas.

"Falsification of any certification always has the potential of placing people in danger. However,
falsifications of training in life-saving techniques creates an obvious risk if a life-or-death situation arises,
something these certifications were intended to avoid" said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

"I applaud the work of the Miami-Dade Police Department in ending this almost invisible danger and know that
my prosecutors will quickly bring this case before the judges of our criminal courts."

Jackson Health System released the following statement: "We applaud the swift action of the Jackson employees who reported this fraud. Our healthcare professionals recognize the importance of proper CPR training and the real work that prepares them to save lives."

Authorities said Rojas possessed AHA instructor certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) which allowed him to teach those classes.

Rojas has been charged with 1 count of Organized Scheme to Defraud, which is a 3rd-degree felony.

Here is what officials said about the investigation, which began in 2021: 

"After 14 individuals who were offered employment or promotion by Jackson Health Systems contacted Rojas seeking BLS and/or ACLS training. These individuals allege that they paid Rojas a total of $1,140.00 for the necessary courses. They expected to receive training, but no training occurred. Instead, these individuals allegedly received electronic records (eCards) from Rojas indicating that they participated in or successfully completed a course."

Officials said an undercover officer obtained BLS certification without any training from Rojas for $60, transmitted via electronic money transfer. 

"Following the money exchange, the AHA sent an email to the undercover officer congratulating him/her for completing the AHA training and providing instructions on how to claim his eCard."

Prosecutors said, "The AHA could not have known the identity of the undercover officer nor how to contact him without Rojas having provided the course completion information to AHA. The undercover officer did not participate in or successfully complete any cognitive and/or skill evaluations as required by the curriculum of the AHA to receive the AHA certificates. Documentation provided by the AHA showed that between January 1, 2020
and December 1, 2021, Rojas allegedly issued over 14,500 certificates on behalf of the AHA. At $60 per
card, Rojas allegedly may have taken in over $870,000 during that time period."

Further charges may be forthcoming in this case, prosecutors said.  

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