Four Miami-Dade parks employees charged with stealing entrance fees

Four Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation employees have been arrested and charged with stealing entrance fees paid by visitors to Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah.

Charged Wednesday with grand theft were Jamal Sheffield and Charles Simmons, both 26. Manuel Valdes, 22, and Camilo Felipe, 22, were charged with theft. All four men were toll booth workers.

Miami-Dade police public corruption detectives opened an investigation in February after parks administrators noticed that revenues were decreasing at Earhart park.

A covert operation revealed that the men collected the $6 entrance fee from each vehicle that entered the park and then pocketed the money, police said. Sheffield kept it at least 13 times, Simmons at least four times, and the other two men several times, according to arrest reports.

Sheffield and Simmons made out with an estimated $1,686 and $1,320, respectively, police said. They were booked into jail, where their bond was set at $5,000 each. Valdes and Felipe each pocketed about $50, the arrest forms said.

“I commend our Police Department for their efforts in this matter, as well as our Parks and Recreation staff for being vigilant and bringing these acts to the attention of law enforcement as they realized that something was amiss,” county Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.

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