Miami-Dade correctional officer to be released on house arrest

Christy Laster, 35, accused of extorting more than $20,000 from boot camp cadets

MIAMI – A Miami-Dade correctional officer accused of extorting more than $20,000 from boot camp cadets appeared Thursday in court, where a judge said she can be released on house arrest.

Christy Laster, 35, who worked for the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department for 12 years, must also surrender her passport.

Authorities said the 19 cadets that Laster is accused of victimizing were in the second-phase of the rehabilitation program when the incidents occurred. After they were released from the first-phase, they were required to be employed.

According to prosecutors, the cadets were not allowed to have cash in their possession during the 60-day work-release program, and were required to pay the cost of the program supervision, which was usually a $10 daily fee.

Investigators said cadets reported that Laster convinced them to give her their money or else she was going to have them booted out of the program and arrested.

"Once she took those monies from the cadets, which she's required to do, she placed them in the box. Where did they go from there?" defense attorney David Braun said.

According to her arrest warrant, Laster also threatened to increase some of the cadets' cost of supervision if they snitched on her or refused to pay her. The victims' thefts ranged from $263 to $8,318.75, the warrant said.

Prosecutors said they learned that Laster was a regular at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where she gambled away nearly $40,000.

"She's not there partying. She actually enjoys playing cards," Braun said. "We know that Christy didn't take them. She would never take anything from those cadets."

Laster was initially being held in jail on a $443,000 bond on charges of bribery, extortion, grand theft and petit theft.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 24.

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