They became good friends in high school, then worked together as cops out of the same Miami police station. But their bond came undone when one of them — accused of stealing ID’s from a police database to score income-tax refunds — helped FBI agents catch the other in a sting operation.
The story of Malinksy Bazile, 28, and the sting’s target, Vital Frederick, 27, is unfolding in different federal courts. Frederick goes to trial Monday in Miami; Bazile starts trial Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.
The two men are among 10 Miami police officers from the North District station in Liberty city to have been prosecuted and/or relieved of duty because of alleged wrongdoing over the past year. The investigations, led by an FBI anti-corruption task force including Miami internal affairs detectives, took off after an illegal sports-gambling ring operating out of a Liberty City barbershop was shut down in March of last year.
If convicted, Frederick and Bazile, who both joined the Miami police force in 2008, may receive long prison sentences for the increasingly common crimes of ID theft and tax-refund fraud. Both were arrested last March.
“This is a man who dedicated his life to protecting the community,” Bazile’s defense attorney, Saam Zangeneh told the Miami Herald. “He wants to exercise his right to go to trial.”
Frederick’s attorney, Stuart Adelstein, declined to comment.
FIRST TO WEAR A WIRE
Another man in the middle of the FBI’s overall investigation is Miami officer Nathaniel Dauphin, 41, who in January became the first of several cops swept up in the broad anti-corruption dragnet of the city’s beleaguered police department.
Dauphin, who joined the Miami force in 1996, led a group of officers suspected of providing off-the-books protection and of frequenting the Player’s Choice Barber Shop, 6301 NW Sixth Ave. Dressed in their dark blue uniforms, they stood out so much that one gambler told investigators he thought the place was being run by the Miami Police Department, according to court records.
But long before pleading guilty to an extortion charge alleging he received $5,000, Dauphin agreed to wear a wire for the FBI to target other suspected dirty cops.
In April of last year, Dauphin called and met fellow officer Harold James and paid him $100 for providing “protection coverage” at the betting operation, according to an FBI affidavit and sources familiar with the case. Then, while secretly recording their meeting, Dauphin enticed James to provide protection for another business that was purportedly cashing fraudulent tax-refund checks.
The “cat is doing something shady … trying to keep from getting hit,” Dauphin told James, referring to the check-cashing proprietor. Dauphin told James he would be paid “cash under the table.”
James’ response: “Sounds good to me.”
James, while under surveillance by the FBI and Miami police internal affairs detectives, provided protection for the Liberty City check-cashing store five times in April and May 2012, according to court records.
He was paid $800 by Dauphin, who had told him the detail was to protect a purported courier worried about getting robbed, and for “warning” about “police activity” around the check-cashing store at Northwest 79th Street and Seventh Avenue.