A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy at the Stock Island jail was arrested Thursday after his employer says he agreed to help an inmate escape in exchange for $400,000 cash he needed to pay off credit card debt.
Elizardo Ortueta, 50, was fired Thursday evening after investigators said they caught him red-handed picking up cash from an undercover informant. He’s in the Stock Island jail with no bond allowed.
Ortueta is also accused of providing contraband, including creatine and fitness supplements, to the same inmate, convicted drug dealer Albert Vizcaino Gonzalez, 35, who the deputy had known prior to starting work at the law enforcement agency.
At first, according to Vizcaino and his attorney, the deputy asked for a $50,000 loan in exchange for preferential treatment for the inmate facing a lengthy stay in state prison, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
“Ortueta reportedly told Vizcaino he was in debt with credit cards and also needed a new roof on his house,” Herrin said Thursday. “At a later date, Ortueta allegedly approached Vizcaino with another offer: For $400,000 in cash he would help Vizcaino escape from custody on his way to prison.”
Vizcaino has been in custody since 2013 on cocaine-related charges.
Vizcaino and his attorney reported the illicit offer to deputies, who set up an undercover sting in the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy on Big Pine Key at 12:45 p.m. Thursday. According to Herrin, a confidential informant met with Ortueta for the exchange with $150,000 in cash which was considered the down payment with the rest of the $400,000 to be paid off after the inmate’s release.
Instead of the cash bribe, Ortueta was arrested on felony charges of receiving unlawful compensation for official behavior, smuggling contraband into a corrections facility, use of a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony and a misdemeanor charge of not having a valid Florida driver’s license, although he has a valid one from North Carolina.
Ortueta had recently returned to the Sheriff’s Office as a jail deputy in February. From August 2009 to August 2015, Ortueta worked as a detention deputy until he resigned, Herrin said.
Vizcaino told deputies Ortueta provided him with fitness related items, including D-Bal, which Herrin said is possibly a steroid. The items were found in Vizcaino’s jail cell during a search, Herrin said.
Assisting with this investigation was the State Attorney’s Office, the Office of Statewide Prosecution and Homeland Security Investigations.