7 Investigates team looks back on stories uncovered in 2019

(WSVN) - From tracking down exotic lizards in the Everglades to looking into homeowners’ sky-high water bills, it has been a busy year for the 7 investigative team. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek looks back at what he and his team uncovered in 2019.

7News viewers questioned the safety of electric scooters on the streets.

David Blattner, hit by scooter: “I heard the boom, and I felt the impact.”

And wanted to know what the state was spraying in their back yards.

Kristen McLean, El Portal homeowner: “I don’t want my children and my pets exposed to it.”

7 Investigates was also on the case of those accused of abusing their power, like Miami Police Detective Danny Hebra.

Danny Hebra (in body cam video): “Nothing you can do? Really?”

Monroe County deputies arrested him on DUI charges, even though he begged to be let go.

Danny Hebra (in body cam video): “Sarge, please.”

Deputy: “This is not fun for me either.

Danny Hebra: “I know.”

Investigators say he also tried to use his police ID to get out of trouble.

Danny Hebra: “Nothing you can do? Really?”

Deputy: “I can’t.”

Danny Hebra: “Really?”

Hebra remains off duty but still on the police payroll as he continues to fight his DUI charges.

What should have been a fun limo experience for two South Florida families turned into a fight over outrageous extra charges.

Eric Garcia-Tunon, rented limo: “He just charged my credit card $550 extra simply because I asked the question.”

The families say they failed to read the fine print in their contracts with South Miami Limos and were taken for a ride.

Eric Garcia-Tunon: “I was angry at myself for allowing myself to walk into a situation like this.”

The company owner tried to charge us, too — $75,000 — to be interviewed for our story!

Since our report aired, some of the company’s unhappy customers were given refunds.

7 Investigates waded through the water bills of Opa-Locka homeowners confused over hefty bills that didn’t make sense.

George Suarez, Opa-Locka homeowner: “I walked into the house with the water bill and go, ‘This has got to be a joke!'”

An Opa-Locka meter reader stepped up, spoke exclusively to 7News and blew the whistle on the city.

Meter Reader: “Because they inflate the number. They manipulate the bills, and they’ve been doing that for a long time.”

A class action lawsuit on behalf of all Opa-Locka water customers is scheduled to go to trial in March.

This year, 7 Investigates also looked into groundbreaking University of Miami research linking toxic blue-green algae to Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in dolphins.

Dr. David Davis, Brain Endowment Bank ”We found these symptoms in dolphins of all ages.”

Researchers will now study the impact of algae on human brains.

And there was a deep dive into the brush of South Miami-Dade to find these giant South American lizards called tegus.

They’re gobbling up the eggs of our native species.

Kevin Ozebek: “In your view, are these even more dangerous to our local ecosystem than the python?”

Rodney Irwin, Tegu trapper: “I’ll say probably by a factor of 10.”

In 2020, we promise to dig even deeper to find stories that impact you and to find answers and solutions when you have questions and problems.


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