Feds drop theft charges in FBI skimming case

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

Federal prosecutors have dropped a theft complaint against three men arrested in December on charges of ripping off electrical wire from the FBI's new field office in Miramar then fencing it for thousands of dollars.

But the men, who worked for an electrical subcontractor on the project, are not in the clear yet. They are likely to be charged again, only this time by state prosecutors in Broward County.

“We believe the federal prosecutors carefully looked at all the facts and circumstances surrounding the three arrests,” said Miami criminal defense attorney, Brian Bieber, who is representing one of the three men, Robert Gesek.

“Our understanding is the matter is not closed, but will likely be pursued by the Broward state attorney’s office in January,” Bieber said Thursday. “Mr. Gesek has been fully cooperative and intends to remain that way.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Strider Dickson dismissed the theft complaint against the three workers, Gesek, William Hamilton and Michael McGuire, just before Christmas, after they had already been granted bonds of $150,000 each. The order was signed by Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer in Fort Lauderdale federal court. Their arraignments were not held.

On Thursday, the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on its dismissal of the complaint.

Procedurally, federal authorities would have to turn over the case evidence to local police, which would then ask the Broward state attorney’s office to file new charges.

In early December, federal agents busted the trio of workers on charges of trying to skim off an electrical construction contract with the nation's top crime-fighting agency, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the federal complaint.

Here's how the FBI says it went down: The three men, who worked for the FBI project’s electrical subcontractor, M.C. Dean, “fluffed” the amount of wiring needed for the job, according to the affidavit. They got caught Dec. 4 after selling some of the stolen property for $23,660 in cash.

The FBI's anti-corruption squad learned about the alleged caper from a confidential source, the affidavit said. The sale happened outside a Miramar warehouse, where the electrical wire had been hauled on multiple trips from the FBI project.

Afterward, the two buyers told FBI agents that they paid about $23,000 in cash but did not know the wiring was stolen, the affidavit said. The agents stopped two of the sellers, Hamilton and Gesek, in their car and found two envelopes stuffed with the cash in the front seat.

The FBI's new field office — a pair of wavy-shaped glass buildings off Interstate 75 — is scheduled to be ready in the fall. For years, the regional office has operated out of a concrete, bunkerlike structure in North Miami Beach.

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