Federal law enforcement

Second Miami-Dade public works supervisor charged in bribery scam

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A former Miami-Dade County government employee who oversaw street-lighting projects plans to plead guilty later this month to a federal charge that he accepted $150,000 in bribes from a contractor, according to court records.

Garfield Perry, 66, of North Miami Beach, who worked as the roadway lighting coordinator for the Department of Public Works, is accused of accepting payments from the vendor on two home mortgages, one car loan and eight credit cards, among other alleged bribes.

In return for the bribe payments, Perry helped ensure that the contractor’s lighting products were used in the county’s street maintenance projects, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Perry, who held the coordinator’s job between 2002 and 2009, pleaded not guilty Friday in Miami federal court to conspiring to accept bribes from a government contractor. But he is expected to change that plea to guilty on May 22 under an agreement with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan, court records show.

Perry is the county’s second roadway lighting coordinator to be charged with the same conspiracy offense. Earlier this year, George Brown, 51, of Hollywood, who held Perry’s job after him, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from the same contractor and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Brown, charged last year, admitted he accepted $13,000 in household appliances and other merchandise from the vendor.

The unnamed vendor, a representative of a street-lighting manufacturer, began cooperating in 2012 with the Florida Office of Inspector General, FBI and Internal Revenue Service.

Perry was responsible for overseeing the maintenance of more than 22,000 street lights in the county’s roadway system. He is charged with regularly directing the contractor to pay off his debts, including payments on insurance policies for two homes and two cars, between 2006 and October 2009.

Perry also accepted cruise vacations, airline tickets, hotel payments and theater tickets, according to the conspiracy charge.

To pull off the scheme, Perry allegedly directed the contractor to make checks payable to third parties and, after the checks were cashed, decided how the proceeds would be split.

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