Former Miramar Police Department Employee in Custody on Fraud Charges
MIAMI—Brian M. Chen, 39, of Weston, Florida, a former Information Technology Analyst with the police department for the city of Miramar, Florida, was charged in an Information with three counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.
He surrendered to the FBI this morning, January 24, 2019, in Miramar, Florida.
As set forth in the charging document, the State of Florida had a contract with Verizon Wireless for a cellular telephone service plan, which included the acquisition by state and local agencies of cellular telephones and devices. The contract allowed state and local agencies in Florida to obtain iPhones and Android cellular telephones for free or at a discounted rate, provided that the cellular telephones were obtained for official use and that Verizon Wireless was utilized as the service provider. Through his position as Information Technology Analyst for the Miramar Police Department, Chen was the administrator of the plan and was in charge of overseeing the purchase and use of cellular telephones and service.
According to the charging document, beginning in or about 2013, Chen, through his position as Information Technology Analyst with the Miramar Police Department, ordered cellular telephones online through the Verizon “My Business” portal for free or at a substantial discount with the intent to unlawfully resell those cellular telephones. Upon ordering the cellular telephones, Chen caused Verizon to initiate a monthly service plan for each line of service. Chen attempted to suspend the monthly service plan in order to conceal his illegal acquisition of each cellular telephone.
The Information further alleges that Chen offered the illegally obtained telephones for sale individually through an online auction and resale provider and also sold the illegally obtained telephones in bulk to persons in the business of reselling cellular telephones. Due to the volume of telephones illegally purchased and the associated lines of service plans, some service plans could not be continuously suspended. Miramar Police Department incurred a loss of approximately $350,000 by paying for service plans for telephones purchased by Chen pursuant to the fraudulent scheme. From in or about 2013, through on or about November 29, 2018, Chen illegally profited, from the scheme, by receiving approximately $800,000 through the sale of over a thousand illegally obtained cellular telephones.
The defendant has his initial appearance today, January 24, 2019. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for February 21, 2019.
An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Miramar Police Department and the FBI continue their investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.