A local towing operator and a Miami-Dade Police Department aide pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to a bribery charge stemming from illegal tow-job referrals.
Lazaro Garcia, 31, owner of A Team Towing Services, admitted he paid more than $10,000 in bribes to police service aide Matthew Valdes Perez, 31, in exchange for information about stranded motorists involved in accidents between 2014 and early this year. Garcia, who was not on a formal towing rotation with Miami-Dade, then solicited their business.
Valdes also admitted he unlawfully sold accident information to an FBI confidential source for use by a purportedly corrupt chiropractor. The police service aide was paid $4,200 in cash bribes in the undercover operation, according to prosecutor Anthony Lacosta.
Garcia and Valdes are among 11 defendants who have been convicted on conspiracy charges by the U.S. attorney’s office in an ongoing corruption investigation into bribery activity among Miami-Dade towing operators, drivers, body shops and local law enforcement agencies.