MDPD PSA and Tow Truck Company Owner Charged in Illegal Bribery and Kickback Scheme
Former Miami-Dade Police Department Public Service Aide and the owner of a tow truck company were charged in an illegal bribery and kickback scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.
Matthew Valdes Perez, 29, and Lazaro Garcia, 31, are charged with conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a), an offense which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. Valdes and Garcia are also charged with accepting, or paying, bribes concerning a local governmental agency receiving federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 666(a)(2), which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
According to the facts alleged in the complaint, in August 2014, a confidential source (CS) told investigating FBI agents that Lazaro Garcia, the owner and operator of a tow truck company, had been receiving kickbacks from the CS and paying bribes to a MDPD Public Service Aide (PSA). The FBI subsequently corroborated the CS’s allegations during a series of recorded meetings between the CS, MDPD PSA Matthew Valdes, and Garcia. During those recordings, Garcia admitted paying Valdes for accident information which, in turn, Garcia would use to illegally solicit stranded drivers for business. Both Valdes and Garcia were recorded on multiple occasions participating in the illegal towing scheme.
The complaint further alleges that in order to further document the illicit relationship between Garcia and Valdes, the CS asked Garcia if he knew anyone who could collect confidential information regarding accident victims. The CS indicated he knew a corrupt chiropractor who would use the confidential information to illegally solicit the accident victims for business. Garcia suggested PSA Valdes. Between September 2014 and October 2014, Valdes accessed and collected the confidential personal information of dozens of accident victims from MDPD databases. Valdes and Garcia sold this information to the CS, in return for $4200 in cash payments. Those transactions were also recorded.
In January 2015, Valdes was interviewed by the FBI and confessed to his part in the various kickback schemes. Valdes admitted receiving more than $10,000 worth of bribes from Garcia between January 2014 and January 2015. Valdes also admitted receiving bribes from the CS for his role in the plot to steal accident victim’s personal information for use by the corrupt doctor.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the MDPD Internal Affairs Professional Compliance Bureau. 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.