Former Miami-Dade supervisor pleads guilty to bribery charge

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A former Miami-Dade County government employee who oversaw street-lighting projects pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge that he accepted $150,000 in bribes from a contractor.

Garfield Perry, 67, of North Miami Beach, who worked as the roadway lighting coordinator for the Department of Public Works, admitted he accepted payments from the vendor on two home mortgages, one car loan and eight credit cards, among other bribes.

In return for the payments, Perry helped ensure that the contractor’s lighting products were used in the county’s street maintenance projects, according to a factual statement filed with his plea agreement with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan.

Perry, scheduled for sentencing July 29 before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, faces up to five years in prison on his bribery conspiracy conviction.

Perry, who held the coordinator’s job from 2002 to 2009, was responsible for overseeing the maintenance of more than 22,000 street lights in the county’s roadway system.

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 ½ years in prison. Brown, charged last year, admitted he accepted $13,000 worth of 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, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Perry admitted he regularly directed the contractor to pay off his debts, including payments on insurance policies for two homes and two cars, between 2006 and October 2009.

He also accepted cruise vacations, airline tickets, hotel payments and theater tickets.

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

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