Gus Lopez, a Miami Beach bureaucrat who spent almost three years in jail for public corruption, was killed in a horrific crash that left four others severely injured near downtown Miami early Monday.
He was riding in a packed BMW that crashed into a pickup truck on Northwest Third Avenue and Fifth Street. The mangled pickup flipped and came to rest atop the BMW, trapping its five occupants.
The 56-year-old Lopez, who was a passenger in the BMW, was killed in the crash. He was still on probation and was supposed to be living in Orlando.
The other four occupants were removed by a Miami Fire-Rescue team and taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The driver of the truck was also injured and taken to the hospital.
The car full of young people, along with Lopez, had just left Seaspice, a restaurant and lounge on the Miami River.
Miami police won’t release details of the crash. But sources confirmed it was Lopez, and his date of birth matched public records available at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
The driver of the BMW, Hugo Milochevitch, 25, remains under investigation for his role in the crash. He is a DJ at Seaspice, and also spins at Miami Beach night spots Mynt Lounge and Bâoli Miami.
“It is a terrible tragedy and we are awaiting the results of the city of Miami police department’s investigation and continue to cooperate with investigators,” Milochevitch’s lawyers, Kenneth Weisman and Dan Lurvey, said in a statement.
Lopez’s death was a stunning end for a man who fell from grace in a very public way.
He worked as the procurement director for the city of Miami Beach, overseeing all city contracts and bids, including those related to the lucrative $1 billion project aimed at revitalizing the Miami Beach Convention Center and its surrounding areas.
In March 2012, Lopez resigned as Miami Beach detectives and public corruption prosecutors began probing possible misconduct surrounding the estimated $1 billion project.
The city became concerned that he was possibly rigging the process by assembling his own development team with businessman Walter Garcia. Though Lopez was never charged with corruption related to any convention center contract, the project was put on hold for months as the criminal probe dragged on.
Prosecutors believed he was referring prospective bidders and team members to his own development team and business partner, Garcia. Detectives even uncovered an email from Lopez that outlined Garcia’s compensation for the massive convention center contract at almost $7 million.
Lopez was ultimately convicted of peddling sensitive information in other construction contracts involving about a dozen companies. By then he had served 34 months behind bars. His punishment was time served, plus an additional nine months of probation.