Former Miami cop draws 14-month prison sentence in bribery case

 

ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

Noting that one of the toughest parts of her job is deciding what to do “when otherwise good people do bad and stupid things,” U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke Wednesday sentenced a Miami police officer to 14 months in prison for taking bribes to protect an illegal Liberty City gambling parlor.

But Nathaniel Dauphin, who has been cooperating with an FBI investigation of police corruption surrounding the gambling operation for more than a year, could have his sentence reduced further before he reports to prison on Sept. 3. The judge called his help in the FBI probe “admirable.”

The 42-year-old Dauphin pled guilty in February to a single charge of extortion conspiracy for his role in guarding a sports betting ring that operated out of the Player’s Choice Barber Shop at 6301 NW Sixth Ave.

Dauphin’s sentence also includes three years of probation as well as forfeiture of $5,000 he was paid for protecting the gambling parlor.

Dauphin is one of 11 Miami police officers facing criminal charges or internal disciplinary measures related to the gambling ring. Another cop, 29-year-old Harold James, got a 15-month prison sentence in April after his conviction in federal court.

Dauphin’s sentence was lower than the 18-to-24 months called for in federal guidelines. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Waugh had argued – though not very strenuously – for a sentence at “the low end” of the guidelines, while Dauphin’s lawyer David Howard asked the judge to let his client off without jail time.

Saying that the bets laid inside the barber shop would have been legal if the gamblers had just driven a few miles up the road to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood to place them, Howard told the judge: “We’re not talking about a drug operation. We’re not talking about protecting a robber….This was at the very low end of the totem pole.

Dauphin, he added, had already lost about $250,000 in retirement benefits along with most of his friends as a result of his guilty plea, and will have a hard time finding work to support to support his five children (and a sixth on the way).

Both Waugh and Howard said it was possible the government would recommend a lower sentence if Dauphin continues to assist the FBI’s investigation.

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