An administrator at Miami International Airport was arrested Thursday on bribery charges in what prosecutors said was part of a $5 million scam at the county-owned airport.
Ivan Valdes, a senior manager who is the director of the airport’s terminal maintenance division, was charged with bribery, bid tampering and money laundering. The 46-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges early Friday, according to court records. County prosecutors planned to detail the charges at a 2 p.m. press conference at the State Attorney’s Office.
Details of the case weren’t available Friday morning. Valdes came up through the ranks of MIA’s landscaping division, according to his biography on the airport’s website, joining the facility in 1989. He earned $98,000 last year, making him the 147th best-paid official at the airport, , a sprawling county agency with a $1 billion budget.
Valdes supervised a department of more than 100 workers responsible for maintenance of the airport’s six terminals.
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A call to the office of Valdes’ attorney was not immediately returned Friday.
“We’ve been an integral part of this investigation for a very long time,” said MIA director Emilio González. “We will never ever tolerate this type of behavior.” He said the charges are part of a larger investigation at MIA, but that no other MIA officials are facing charges.
Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.
This post was updated to correct the location of the 2 p.m. press conference and to include a more accurate description of Valdes’ position at MIA.