Fourth Arrest Made After Suspect Buys Air Jordans Using ID of Surfside Victim

A fourth suspect accused of stealing the identities of at least seven victims of the Surfside condo collapse has been arrested after he purchased a pair of Jordan sneakers with a fake identity.

Detectives said 20-year-old Nelson Ronaldo Garcia-Medina used the name of a deceased victim in the building collapse to buy the $130 pair of shoes found in his room.

Garcia-Medina is the brother of the case's main suspect, Betsy Alejandra Cacho-Medina.

Garcia-Medina was arrested alongside his sister and two other suspects, Rodney Choute and Kimberly Michelle Johnson, on Wednesday morning. His name was not included by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle when she announced the initial arrests.

During the Wednesday press conference, Rundle did note that the investigation remained ongoing and that there could be more co-conspirators.

According to an arrest report, authorities, who were executing a search warrant at Garcia-Medina's home, found a notebook with "written instructions on how to obtain free credit reports in [victims'] names as well as instructions on how to conduct sim swaps over the phone."

Merchandise, including the Jordan sneakers, and receipts showing the use of stolen credit cards were found.

Surfside Condo Collapse Arrest Identity Theft Fraud
Nelson Ronaldo Garcia-Medina has been arrested in connection to the identity theft case involving a number of victims in the Surfside condo collapse.General view of the land where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building was located in Surfside Florida, on July 23, 2021. Giorgio Viera/AFP

The sneakers weren't the only distinctive purchase that helped investigators identify the suspects.

Cacho-Medina allegedly purchased a $1,600 black Versace purse using a credit card under the name of a victim of the Surfside collapse. She was later seen carrying the purse when she made another $2,600 charge at a Bloomingdale's using a different account of another Surfside victim.

"This investigation has also shown that these individuals appear to be very skilled identity thieves. They're professionals," Rundle said Wednesday. "Except for their names, almost nothing else seems to be true."

So far, authorities have indicated that seven Surfside victims—five deceased and two surviving—were impacted by the identity theft, although investigators say more victims may have been affected.

Family members of other Surfside victims who suspect that they could also be victims of identity theft are encouraged to contact law enforcement.

The suspects are being charged with multiple counts of identity theft, organized schemes to defraud and trafficking in credit cards. They face 15 to 30 years in prison if convicted of the various charges.

Garcia-Medina is being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

The 12-story Champlain Towers South collapsed back on June 24. The tragedy left 98 people dead.

"For most of us and most of America, this unbelievable tragedy tore at our very hearts but for a group of alleged identity thieves, it was a time to make some money," Rundle said.