MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Daisy Mae Williams says she is terrified. The 80-year-old says Monday will be the worst day of her life. That’s when she’s been ordered to turn herself in. Her attorney says jail is unnecessary for a person of her age, in her condition and the fact that she has no prior arrests.
“You are going to jail?” we asked her.
“I’m trying to stay calm and hold it together,” Williams tells us. “I’m anxious to get through it. There is nothing I can do about it at this point.”
She spent 35 years as a Miami-Dade school teacher and she’s currently a minister, but Monday morning, the senior citizen will be an inmate.
“Never been arrested before?” we asked.
“Never,” she says.
“Never been to jail before?”
“Never,” she says. “I’ve always tried to live within the law and raise my five children and 22 great grands and always tried to teach them to live in the law and of the law and not be against the law.”
Not so says investigators with the Florida Department of Financial Services.
On Monday, Williams will be charged with insurance fraud and has been ordered by the Office of the Miami-Dade State Attorney to turn herself in.
According to a complaint, Williams filed a bogus claim with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation in 2017 claiming that the lightning that hit her house during Hurricane Irma damaged her roof and water pipes. The complaint says she knew it wasn’t true and that many of the receipts submitted had been altered — dates were changed.
“Were any documents altered?” we asked.
“That’s what they say,” says Williams, “but it’s unbeknownst to me.”
“You have no idea?”
We asked her if she filed the claim herself or if someone filed it for her. “I filed the claim,” she says.
Today, it’s not about guilt or innocence. Williams is not a flight risk. She won’t be charged with a violent crime.
“In my 38 years of law, I have never seen this state attorney’s office be as heartless and cruel and not understanding as they are in this particular case,” says Williams’ attorney, Jonathan Schwartz.
He says the state attorney can issue a summons to appear in court and she’ll be there.
Williams walks with a walker, has shortness of breath from COVID-19, and is insulin dependent.
“There have been extensive e-mails ultimately, but after thinking about it for a good long while, they decided they’re not making a special exception,” says Schwartz.
In a statement to Local 10 News, a spokesperson for the Office of the Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says:
“Ms. Williams is not in custody and we are in the process of reviewing all of the evidence in this case, so any final disposition, including pre-trial intervention, is premature at this point. We have arranged for her surrender rather than arrest, and we have also agreed to have her be released on her own recognizance.”
Williams tells us: “Last night, I didn’t sleep very well.”
“You’re just gonna turn yourself in?”
“I’m gonna do exactly what my attorney says to do,” Williams says.
Her attorney says: “We look forward to a call from an appropriate State Attorney to see if there is something other than having her be incarcerated and strip searched first thing Monday a.m.”
But no one is sure that call is coming.
Williams says she is looks forward to her day in court to prove her innocence. And says that any money she got went to fixing her roof and pipes.
“This is one of those situations where I believe this is what I would consider what the 8th amendment of the Constitution calls ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ " Schwartz says.
Local 10 News will be there Monday morning when Williams turns herself in.