Miami Beach

He’s been arrested 344 times. One group is working to make sure 345 doesn’t happen.

Fresno Bee Staff Photo

You might call Richard Powell a repeat offender.

When he appeared before a judge on Tuesday, it wasn’t the first time he had problems with the law. Not by a long shot.

Local 10 News reports that the 57-year-old homeless man has been arrested a whopping 344 times. Charges include public intoxication, robbing a milk crate, strong-armed robbery and sexual assault. The most recent wrongdoing: Violating a trespass order to stay off the lower part of Miami Beach, south of 40th Street.

But Miami Beach is exactly where cops found Powell earlier this month, yelling in the street carrying a beer, with pot stuffed inside his shoes.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Andrea Ricker Wolfson was not pleased with the scofflaw.

“You’re on the radar, my friend,” the judge warned. “Essentially, the officers, the residents who live in that area know who you are, and they will call the police if they see you. And you’ll be right back here where you are right now and I can guarantee you that if you violate the order again, the state won’t even discuss a plea with your lawyers.”

Powell’s sentence for the trespass violation: 90 days behind bars.

So will Powell learn from his 344 mistakes?

One local group hopes so: The newly formed Miami Beach Crime Prevention and Awareness Group aims to clean up the neighborhood.

“We are focusing on the repeat offenders in Miami Beach that are making our beach unlivable,” cofounder John Deutzman, a retired investigative journalist, told Local 10.

The group wants stiffer sentences for habitual offenders.

On the group’s website: “We estimate that the number of our habitual offenders who require stiffer sentencing to be sixty [60] people, or less” and with what they say are more than 500 available beds in County jails on any given day, incarcerating these habitual offenders ‘would not overburden the system.’”

But according to a recent Miami New Times article, the watchdog group is under fire due to its tactics, which include following and filming “frequent fliers” and urging other residents to any report suspicious activity.

Nancy Abudu, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the paper she is concerned about MBCPAG’s motives and worries about the ramifications.

“The cops need to make sure they are not cosigning on any racial profiling or other unlawful type of quasi-policing,” said Abudu. “And these folks need to remember they’re civilians, not cops.”

Enrique Sepulveda became homeless during his senior year of high school after a family argument left him and his sister without a place to rest their heads at night.

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