A Miami police lieutenant suspected of participating in an alleged protection racket for a sports-betting ring in Liberty City was relieved of duty Friday.
Bernard Johnson, 44, who joined the police force in 1998, was relieved with pay while the FBI and Miami police internal affairs detectives continue their joint investigation into the gambling operation, which operated out of a Liberty City barber shop.
Another veteran officer, Rashad Jabbar, 50, retired last month after he was implicated in the same protection scandal.
Both are among 11 Miami police officers relieved of duty in recent months who face potential criminal charges or the loss of their jobs in connection with the federal corruption investigation targeting extortion and other illegal activity.
On Wednesday, a Miami police officer who wore a wire for the FBI pleaded guilty to an extortion charge. Nathaniel Dauphin, 41, admitted he received between $4,000 and $5,000 from the owner of the sports-betting business from November 2010 until March of last year.
Unbeknownst to him, Miami-Dade Police detectives had the place under surveillance, witnessing Dauphin as he took money from the owner of the Player’s Choice, a barber shop.
Last March, Miami-Dade police shut down the place, at 6301 NW Sixth Ave., arresting the owner and four associates on state gambling-related charges. That is when the FBI and Miami police internal affairs unit began their investigation, flipping Dauphin to help go after other city cops.
His first target: fellow officer Harold James, 29, who pleaded guilty last week to two extortion charges for providing protection for a separate Liberty City business, which purportedly cashed fraudulent tax-refund checks. The cash-checking store was in fact part of an FBI undercover “sting.’’