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Vereen Hopes Understanding Of Crime Gives Election Edge Over Rundle

MIAMI (CBS4) - After more than 22 years as a criminal defense attorney, Rod Vereen is hoping voters will decide he is the right person to take over the Miami Dade State Attorney's Office.

Vereen has represented an array of high-profile criminal defendants -- including famed drug kingpin Sal Magluta; Liberty City Seven terror suspect Stanley Phanor; and abortion doc killer Paul Hill.

He says his role as a defense attorney gives him an understanding of crime his opponent - Katherine Fernandez Rundle -- never had.

"That is one of the reasons I know crime exists in these communities," he said while appearing on CBS4's Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede. "I've represented people in this community yes, that have sold drugs, yes, that have committed murders. And I know where the septic sites are in this community. The problem is my opponent does not."

Vereen argues that despite Rundle's claims to the contrary, violent crime is increasing.

"Crime in this community is out of control and there needs to be fresh blood," he declared.

Vereen, who has the support of the PBA, has criticized Rundle for playing politics with the office and for failing to criminally charge Congressman David Rivera for misusing campaign funds. Vereen said Rundle wrongly views the office as her own private fiefdom.

"The office of the State Attorney belongs to the people and not to any one particular person," he said.

Vereen ran for Congress two years ago as an independent and was easily beaten by Frederica Wilson.

This time Vereen is running as a Democrat in the August 14 primary. And with no Republican opponent in November, the winner of next week's race will be the next state attorney.

CBS4 News requested an opportunity to interview Vereen for this profile, but his campaign would not allow him to speak unless CBS4 News would guarantee the story would be entirely positive.

Vereen's campaign also objected to the station asking any questions regarding a $40,000 IRS tax lien the federal government currently has against Vereen.

So instead of making Vereen available, the campaign sent the following bio:

Meet Rod Vereen, the man verses the politician. Rod's family settled here after being a military family (his father was career United States Army). For Rod, living in Miami, at first, was a cultural shock because in his life on military bases and posts he was able to "hang with and chew the fat with older guys. His family settling in Miami was the beginning of numerous transitions and firsts for Rod Vereen. These transitions and historical firsts launched Rod Vereen well on his journey to fulfilling his lifelong dream of helping and serving his community.

He was one of the first of his family to complete college then receive a degree in Law; became an adjunct professor at Florida State University's School of Criminology and Florida A & M University's School of Criminal Justice. He now practices, solo, in the area of Federal and State Criminal Law. Formerly an Assistant Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit and the first African-American Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, Florida. It was during these times Rod was ready to tackle the "uneven playing field" afforded by our Justice System and applied consistently on minorities and Blacks. It was during these times he was able to show the disparate and unfair treatment towards Blacks and minorities. Because of his positions within the Federal and State Law arena he found himself being sought after for advice by judges and lawyers, more oft times than not, regarding their cases involving Black juveniles being unfairly ushered into the justice system and to be tried as adult criminals.

His life has not been all "peaches and cream". He dealt with and is still dealing with some difficult times he endured as a young man growing up without the physical presence of his father. Rod's father was away a lot serving tours of duty overseas. And, "…after he served time in the Viet Nam War, he came back to America exhibiting much of the behavior of a soldier with post traumatic stress syndrome", Rod said."…This behavior, even more so than his father's absence wreaked havoc on my family and me...", Rod continued. "… The strength of my family and me was in the praying strength and faith of my mother…", he concluded. Rod believes his "mother's prayers" got him through the adversities he encountered and is still encountering.

Rod strongly suggests that sensitivity training needs to be a consistent and integral part of our Justice System, at all levels and aspects of our Judicial System so Court officers and judicial Players will be aware of their personal biases and prejudices when involved in and trying cases. "These significantly involved players" need to be mindful when their personal biases and prejudices kick in and potentially ruin the life of the alleged juvenile offender simultaneously perpetrating injustice by double standard application of the law.

Rod Vereen is on a mission to prove that you can be in government and you can be in politics without compromising your "bottom-line", that is, in what you believe. He wants to prove that fair is not just for those who live "on the other side of the track" nor is fair and just only for the rich

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