Former owner of Dade Medical College, USMF charged for improper school closures

Ernesto Perez accused of failing to follow state requirements

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor
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MIAMI - The former owner and chairman of the now-defunct Dade Medical College and University of Southernmost Florida was charged Wednesday for violating Florida laws when he abruptly closed down both schools, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced in a news release.

Prosecutors said the schools were first granted licenses as independent Florida postsecondary educational institutions in March and September of 2000.

Both schools shut down on Oct. 30, 2015, to the surprise of both employees and students.

Below is a list of requirements that independent postsecondary educational institutions must follow when closing, provided by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office:

  • First, at least 30 days prior to closing, it must notify the Commission for Independent Education (the Commission) in writing of its intent to close.
  • Second, it must organize an orderly closure of the institution.
  • Third, to ensure an orderly closure, it must provide a plan to the Commission for the completion of training of its students. The Commission must approve any such plan before it is put into effect.
  • Fourth, the institution must convey all student records to the Commission office or to another location designated by the Commission or its staff.

Prosecutors said the schools' owner, Ernesto Armando Perez, 47, took none of the required steps when closing both schools.

"Those students who placed their trust in Ernesto Perez and these two educational institutions now have debts instead of degrees," Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "If the law had been followed and proper efforts taken to assist students, at least hope could remain alive. School employees, locked out of their work place without any advance notice, appear to have fared no better."

Prosecutors said students and employees were notified about the closure via email at about 4 p.m. on the day that the schools closed. They said the commission was also notified via email about an hour later.

Perez is charged with two counts of improper school closure, a second-degree misdemeanor.

He served 60 days on house arrest earlier this year after pleading guilty last year to giving illegal campaign contributions and obstructing justice.

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