State Senate Candidate Was Arrested in 2011 On Suspicion of Criminal Use of Personal Information
Police reports describe Julia Salazar attempting to impersonate Kai Hernandez, a family friend and then-wife of baseball star Keith Hernandez

On Dec. 14, 2010, Kai Thompson Hernandez received a phone call from her financial adviser at UBS, Mark Zeller. He informed her that earlier that day, an unknown caller had repeatedly attempted to access her account. As Detective Charles Weinblatt recounts in his arrest report, in the first call, the caller correctly provided Hernandez’s date of birth, the last four digits of her social security number, her UBS account number, and UBS Online Services user name. With this information, the caller was able to add another email address to the account, and receive a new temporary password there.

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According to the police report, approximately 40 minutes later, the individual claiming to be Hernandez again called UBS, this time asserting that she could not log in to her account because she had been stymied by its security questions. The caller said she had plugged in where she had gone to high school, but the answer had not been accepted by the system. The UBS service representative then transferred the call to one of Hernandez’s financial advisers for the purposes of positive identification—following which the caller abruptly hung up.

Some 10 minutes later, per the report, UBS received another call from the same individual, again claiming she was having trouble accessing her account. The call was again transferred to the financial adviser, and again the individual terminated the call.

An hour later, the police record states that Hernandez received a call from Zeller, who played the recorded calls for her. Hernandez verified that she had not made them, and also that she recognized the voice of the person who did. Two days later, she filed a report at the Tequesta Police Department, in which she named Julia Salazar as the perpetrator. Hernandez testified that she had been a close friend of Salazar’s mother, Christine, and had known Julia since she was 9. Julia had house-sat for Hernandez on several occasions, including for the entire month of September 2010, which Hernandez said would have given her access to the personal information used in the bank calls.

“Julia identified herself as me and rattled off my personal information without any hesitation,” Hernandez said in her sworn statement to the police on Dec. 16. “If she had only known the name of my high school, she would have had complete and unobstructed access to my financial information.”

Several months later, when Salazar was back in Florida on break from Columbia University, she was called into the Tequesta Police Department, where—after listening to her speak in an interview—Weinblatt came to believe she was indeed the fraudulent caller, and arrested her. Salazar was fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken. “On today’s date (3/23/11),” Weinblatt wrote in the arrest report, “I interviewed the Def. at PD. I also was immediately able to determine that the voice on the three taped conversations was that of the Def.”

“Based on the facts herein,” he closed, “your affiant believes probable cause exists to charge the Def. with Criminal Use of Personal Information.” Weinblatt, a 23-year veteran of the Tequesta police who retired in 2016, reaffirmed this conclusion to Tablet. “I arrested her, so obviously I felt like I had enough probable cause to prove a case,” he said this week.

(Salazar Arrest Report, March 23, 2011)
(Salazar Arrest Report, March 23, 2011)

Ultimately, Salazar was not charged, likely because “a voice ID is not enough for the state attorney’s office,” said Weinblatt. “There may have been sufficient evidence to arrest her, but the state attorney’s office felt that there was not a likelihood of conviction based on a voice ID, I would assume, so the charges were not filed.” (The state attorney at the time, Michael F. McAuliffe, could not be reached for comment at press time.) In addition, no money had been stolen, since the caller had not been able to access Hernandez’s account, likely reducing the priority and urgency of the case. Salazar later returned to Columbia University.


Ironically, the only reason Salazar’s arrest survives in the public record is because of Salazar herself. The Tequesta Police Department is small, and does not typically retain such records beyond a five-year period. Today, the department can find no files or documentation related to the Salazar case. But in March 2013, two years after the incident, Salazar sued Kai Hernandez for defamation in Palm Beach County’s Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. As evidence, she provided both the original police report filed by Hernandez and the arrest report filed by Weinblatt, thus preserving the documents in the public record.

Salazar alleged that the 46-year-old Hernandez, acting in malice, had actually impersonated the 19-year-old Salazar on the phone to her own bank, setting in motion the arrest that had since marred Julia’s emotional and professional well-being. Salazar denied any wrongdoing.

The claimed conspiracy, as noted by the first judge assigned to the case in a hearing, was quite novel. In Salazar’s final version of the events, Hernandez had (a) called her own bank, (b) imitated Salazar’s voice, (c) created a new password, (d) deliberately flubbed a security question, (e) waited for the bank to call her with the recordings of her own calls, and then (f) gone to the police with her meticulously self-manufactured evidence. Both sides retained voice analysts to support their contentions.