Aventura / Sunny Isles

Charges dropped in Golden Beach police off-duty billing case

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped their case against a Golden Beach police officer who had been charged with scamming money from the city’s off-duty security program.

Lyndean Peters, who is now retired and on disability, was accused in 2011 of under-reporting or not reporting off-duty security jobs he worked for local businesses or road projects to avoid paying a cut to the town. He was also accused of working off-duty when he was actually supposed to be patrolling the small Northeast Miami-Dade beach community.

But Miami-Dade prosecutors, after taking depositions with Golden Beach town officials, realized that much of how the department ran its off-duty program was off-the-books and against official policies — casting serious doubt on whether any laws were actually broken, according to a memo released Wednesday.

One example: officers routinely worked extra hours while on duty, and were allowed to informally shave the hours off another day’s shift as compensation time. That practice, prosecutors concluded, made it difficult to prove that Peters ever double billed for his time.

“The state finally saw the truth in this matter and did the right thing today,” said Peters’ attorney, Donald Oswald.

Said Peters, after a brief court hearing on Wednesday: “It’s been three long years.”

Peters, 48, had been charged with grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and official misconduct.

Two other Golden Beach police officers, Omar Paez and Yovany Diaz, are also facing similar charges; prosecutors are expected to drop the cases against them.

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