Former Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Pleads Guilty to Bribery Scheme
Kirk Chambers, a former Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga to participation in a bribery scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
On May 20, 2015, former FHP Trooper Kirk Chambers pleaded guilty to violating Title 18, United States Code, 1951(a) by participating in a conspiracy to affect commerce through extortion under color of law. Based upon his guilty plea, Chambers faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, followed by up to three years’ supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, Chambers will also forfeit profits from his illegal activity.
According to the facts set forth in court documents, Chambers was employed as a sworn FHP Trooper between 2006 and 2015. In 2013, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies opened an investigation into allegations that South Florida law enforcement personnel were being paid bribes by local wrecker operators to illegally solicit business from stranded drivers at accident scenes. Chambers was one of the officers identified as taking bribes.
In 2014, an FBI confidential source (CHS) approached Guillermo “Tony” Sepulveda, the owner and operator of a local Miami based towing company. Under FBI direction, the CHS told Sepulveda that he had a corrupt “chiropractor” that was interested in purchasing confidential accident information from law enforcement in order to permit the chiropractor to illegally solicit business from the accident victims. Sepulveda agreed to participate and introduced the CHS to Trooper Chambers.
Between September and November 2014, Chambers used his position to download the personal information of approximately 100 accident victims from FHP servers. Chambers provided that information to the CHS in return for $5,000, during a series of transactions. For his part in the conspiracy, Sepulveda was paid $1,200.
On January 22, 2015, Chambers was interviewed by the FBI and admitted participating in the bribery scheme. Chambers also admitted being paid thousands of dollars in bribes by various tow truck operators for a number of years.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Public corruption erodes the bond between our public institutions and the communities that they serve. Today’s prosecution demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to holding officials accountable for their actions and upholding their oath to serve the public interest.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Highway Patrol. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Lacosta.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.