Sen. Daphne Campbell’s bad week: An election loss, and now her son has been jailed

Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell Miami-Dade Corrections

One day after she lost her state Senate seat, Daphne Campbell got more bad news: Her son was jailed on allegations he violated his probation for Medicaid fraud.

Police on Wednesday morning arrested Gregory Campbell, an ex-con who has also drawn scrutiny from the Miami Herald after he took control of his mother’s North Miami-Dade house using phony paperwork filed with the county. Cops handcuffed him at his probation office.

Gregory Campbell, 35, was first convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2013. He got seven years in prison. A state appeals court reversed the conviction, saying he deserved a new trial. He later accepted a plea deal that called for him to stay inside his house on “community control” for two years unless he was at work or other approved outings.

But according to an affidavit filed by the Florida Department of Corrections, a probation officer paid a surprise visit on Aug. 8 and found Gregory Campbell was not home.

Gregory Campbell was supposed to be living at the family’s five-bedroom home in the 14600 block of Northeast Fourth Avenue. His probation was set to end in October.

The home itself has been the subject of much intrigue for the embattled Daphne Campbell, whose political career has been marred by scandal. She lost reelection Tuesday night to former prosecutor Jason Pizzo, who will be sworn in Nov. 20.

Daphne Campbell, a Democrat, said she lived in the house until 2012, when the House district she represented was redrawn. Since then she has listed a series of rentals and friends’ homes as her address, though her former campaign manager told the Herald that Campbell still lives in the Fourth Avenue home.

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Daphne Campbell. Roberto Koltun

In May, a quitclaim deed with the senator’s signature was filed to the Miami-Dade clerk of courts transferring ownership of the home from Daphne Campbell to a mysterious shell company — one seemingly controlled by her son and with a listed address at the senator’s campaign office. One month later, the company transferred the home to her son. That quitclaim deed was signed by Gregory Campbell, under his legal name Mikal Mittal.

Quitclaim deeds are a commonly used transaction in South Florida real estate, allowing property owners to quickly transfer ownership of homes to relatives or a new spouse.

But they’re also used by people trying to avoid taxes and scammers looking to steal properties, experts say. Daphne Campbell has a long history of debts, including outstanding liens from the Internal Revenue Service.

She has refused to discuss the quitclaim deed in detail with the Herald, even calling 911 on a reporter who questioned her about the document at a campaign event this month in North Miami Beach.

The house in North Miami-Dade owned by the family of State Sen. Daphne Campbell. Her son, Gregory Campbell, was supposed to remain in the house as part of his probation for Medicaid fraud. He was arrested Wednesday after corrections officers said he was not at the house. David Ovalle Miami Herald

In Gregory Campbell’s case, it is unknown why he sought to take control of the house. Daphne Campbell insists that she did not want want ownership of the house transferred. “She did not sign the document,” Campbell’s lawyer, James Jean Francois, said on the senator’s behalf. “It was not transferred to the [shell company].” According to Francois, Campbell is still the sole owner of the home.

The document also features signatures from two witnesses who may not actually exist, the Herald found. The notary on the document admitted to the Herald that she never saw anyone actually sign the document she notarized. And a forensic handwriting expert, paid for by the Miami Herald, agreed the signature purporting to be Daphne Campbell’s was not hers.

“That doesn’t pass the smell test, either. Nothing related to this does,” said David Garvin, a Miami-based defense attorney who reviewed documents related to the quitclaim deeds at the Herald’s request.

Miami-Dade police’s economic-crimes bureau, which investigates quitclaim deed fraud in Miami, said Daphne Campbell has not filed a complaint reporting herself as a victim.

The home has caused other problems for Campbell. In 2013 and 2017, Wells Fargo tried to foreclose on the property. Campbell eventually evened up, but the lawsuits exposed tens of thousands of dollars of other debts and liens. Then in early 2018, the senator went into further debt — $52,000 — for a home remodel. The contractor, Pierre Richard Raymond, filed a lien, saying he’d only received $11,000. But contacted by the Herald this month, he said the debt had been settled. It’s unclear where Campbell — who makes less than $35,000 a year, according to state disclosures, and had just paid her way out of foreclosure — got the money to pay for the work.

Gregory Campbell repeatedly refused to speak with the Miami Herald in the days leading up to his arrest for a probation violation. His listed defense attorney said Wednesday he was not sure whether the family still wanted him to represent Gregory Campbell.

Under the terms of his plea deal, he was supposed to live at the home. Yet, four people who answered the door Friday told a Herald reporter they don’t know the Campbells at all. But in a Miami-Dade police arrest report released on Wednesday, Gregory Campbell’s permanent address was listed as the family’s house.

A Miami-Dade judge will decide in the coming weeks if Gregory Campbell violated his probation, and if so, what punishment he should receive.