Former City of Miami Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Two Counts of Hobbs Act Extortion
Jerry Sutherland, 28, of Miami-Dade County, Florida, a former officer with the City of Miami Police Department, pled guilty today to two counts of extortion.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and Rodolfo Llanes, Chief, City of Miami Police Department (MPD), made the announcement.
As admitted in Sutherland’s factual proffer in support of his plea of guilty:
In early 2014, Sutherland, who, at the time, was an officer with MPD, managed a football team in his spare time. Sutherland requested that a vendor paint the football team’s helmets free of charge. Subsequently, Sutherland began to demand additional services from the vendor without payment. When the vendor balked at these demands, Sutherland, who erroneously believed that the vendor was involved in an illegal gambling operation that was located adjacent to the vendor’s business in Miami-Dade County, intimated that he would shut down the gambling operation if his demands were not met.
Sutherland represented to the vendor that he would provide the vendor with information about impending surveillance and other operations by MPD in the area of the gambling operation so that the vendor could pass on that information to the owners and operators of the gambling operation.
Several recordings were made of Sutherland receiving 10 bribe payments, many which he received while he was in uniform. Of these payments, 6 were made to Sutherland in exchange for his promise to provide protection for a gambling operation located in Miami-Dade County, that communicated the bets placed there to a gambling establishment in Las Vegas, Nevada; two were made to Sutherland in exchange for his promise to arrange for the dismissal of a criminal court case against an employee of the illegal gambling operation; one was made to Sutherland in exchange for his agreement to increase the visibility of police around a rival gambling location in order to discourage its customers from patronizing that rival location; and the remaining payment was for Sutherland’s promise to provide the vendor with a “case card” with a fictitious case number and officer’s name. Sutherland had been told that the fictitious case card would be used to falsely demonstrate that the gambling operation had been robbed so that the workers could keep for themselves the gambling proceeds that had been made that day. Sutherland received payments which totaled $3,400.
Sutherland is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11, 2015, at 8:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the City of Miami Police Department Internal Affairs Section. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr.