The Coastal Star

Highland Beach: Gun shop owner illegally alerted suspect in theft from widow, investigators say

By Rich Pollack

A Delray Beach gun shop owner whose text let a friend who is charged with bilking a Highland Beach widow out of close to $3 million know investigators were looking for related records was charged last month with criminal disclosure of a subpoena.
Texts in which 34-year-old Michael R. Caruso Jr. of Boynton Beach also recommended his friend David Del Rio contact a well-known Palm Beach County defense attorney led to Caruso’s being named as a witness for prosecutors in the case against Del Rio.
In court records, investigators for the State Attorney’s Office say they went to the Delray Shooting Center in August 2018 armed with a subpoena for records related to Del Rio’s purchase of multiple firearms.
The investigator served a subpoena to Michael R. Caruso Sr. — co-owner of the business with his son — “along with a notice informing him not to disclose the existence of the request,” according to court records.
In March 2019, investigators were plowing through a cloned hard drive from a computer seized from Del Rio when they discovered text messages from Caruso’s phone number on the same day his father was served with the subpoena.
“The message stated: ‘Sooooo ummm I just had the state attorney in here asking about you,’” according to court records. A few minutes later came a text asking Del Rio if he was OK.
Caruso was then asked to call Del Rio.
In later texts, Caruso sent an email with contact information for criminal defense attorney Michael Salnick.
“He’s the real deal if you need it bro, good luck,” the message read, according to court records.
Salnick, who is now representing Caruso as well as Del Rio, said he believes the charges are “overkill.”
“He was just advising a friend and giving him a recommendation for an attorney,” Salnick said. “I don’t think there was ever any intent to prevent, impede or obstruct justice whatsoever.”
Caruso was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Oct. 11 and released on $3,000 bail later that day.
Del Rio, who was arrested in September 2018 and charged with multiple counts of grand theft, exploitation of the elderly, money laundering and fraudulent use of personal identification information, was released from jail on bond but remains under house arrest.
Detectives investigating the April 2018 slaying of Elizabeth “Betty” Cabral discovered millions of dollars had been siphoned from her accounts, with Del Rio accused of improperly receiving much of the money.
No charges have been filed in the death of Cabral, who was found inside her Highland Beach condominium with her throat cut after her car was found in Broward County and Highland Beach police were asked to check on her.
The homicide, only the second in Highland Beach history, remains open and under investigation. Ú

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