The arrest last week of eight people for racketeering is part of a conspiracy to get back at jail escapee Dayonte Resiles for the embarrassment he caused the Broward Sheriff's Office, the inmate said from jail. Resiles stunned attorneys and judges in the Fort Lauderdale courthouse when he fled out a door and into a waiting car last July 15.
“There is a conspiracy against me. My alleged escape resulted in a nationwide manhunt and was publicized in media outlets. The BSO and Scott Israel have it out for me for that reason in particular,” Resiles claims. “My alleged escape made BSO, as well as the judicial system's superiors, look bad. It is no secret to me that I'm Broward Sheriff's most hated.”
Last Tuesday, BSO announced that eight people — including Resiles' girlfriend, her mother, and several of his friends — had been arrested in connection with a RICO investigation dubbed “Operation Rico Suave.” They’re all facing charges for trying to assist Resiles in various ways, from giving money to a detention deputy who’d promised to get him a contraband cell phone to agreeing to lie in court on his behalf.
As New Times detailed in a cover story last year, Resiles is accused of murdering Jill Halliburton Su, a wealthy Davie housewife who was found dead in her home in 2014. He has consistently claimed to be innocent and has been awaiting a trial for nearly three years.
Last summer, frustrated by the apparent lack of progress, he took matters into his own hands and escaped from the Broward County Courthouse during a hearing on whether he’d face the death penalty. That led to a six-day manhunt before he was eventually captured and returned to jail. Eight people were later accused of helping him to escape.
Arrest warrants for the eight individuals arrested Tuesday say Resiles had procured a cell phone with the help of a BSO detention deputy, who, unbeknownst to Resiles, was cooperating with the FBI and BSO’s Public Corruption Unit.
Believing the calls were not being recorded, Resiles contacted friends and asked them to testify that he’d been in Georgia when the murder happened — even though his cell phone records show he was in Fort Lauderdale that day.
Resiles says he met the deputy, who was nicknamed “Chief” by inmates, when he was returned to jail after his escape.
Chief — whose real name is redacted in court filings — may have been planted there, he suggested.
“Scott Israel and his deputies know that I have a friendly relationship with people of my Haitian descent,” Resiles said. “What is the reason for me telling you this? Because the deputy who allegedly gave me the phone is Haitian.”
The two wrote letters back and forth, and formed what Resiles believed to be a friendship, he said. “He [the deputy] would always brag about how crazy and smart my alleged escape was, and how he had wished I made it to Haiti and never gotten caught.”
Resiles admits he asked the deputy to get him a cell phone, but claims his attempt to recruit friends to provide false testimony on his behalf was the deputy’s idea, not his.
“I asked him for a phone so I could search for information that I didn't have access to, to help me with my case,” he said. “One day, he wrote me back, saying, ‘Yo, kid, I got you, but you've got to do shit on my terms.’ I obliged. I will admit it was a weak moment for me, being as I had been incarcerated for so long. I just wanted to go free — I never thought that he or the BSO had conspired a whole corrupt undercover investigation.”
Along with the phone, Resiles claims, he received “a list of advice, for things I could do to my particular cases” from the deputy.
“He said he could help me get access to information, but I would have to do things in his way in order for it to work,” he said.
Resiles says he no longer has the list or any of the other letters he received from the deputy.
“I was told to flush them, to save both of our asses,” he explained.
He also argued that the content of some of his phone calls was being misinterpreted and manipulated, but didn’t have time to elaborate.
Before Resiles had to return to his cell, New Times asked why he’d initially felt the need to acquire a contraband cell phone and research his own case, rather than leave that up to his lawyer.
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“I wanted to have a full understanding of everything, from the [Halliburton Su] family's background to the things that were said in the media before I ever was captured,” he said.
“I don't even understand this DNA evidence that they supposedly have. I don't know what it is… hair or blood or skin parts or anything. I wanted to have a clear understanding of everything like that, because I still, to this day, don't know what’s what,” he said.
Resiles acknowledges that his court-appointed lawyer, H. Dohn Williams, “has like 40 years or more of experience so he knows what he's doing.”
But, he added, “I also feel like it's my case so it's best for me to contribute as well, because nobody's going to fight for my life the way that I am.”