Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade police auctioning forfeited Mercedes and new Palazzo motor home

Miami-Dade Police Officer Danny Llano prepares to jump start a 2010 Mercedes 350 GLK that is one of the vehicles the department has from forfeitures that are currently part of an online auction.
Miami-Dade Police Officer Danny Llano prepares to jump start a 2010 Mercedes 350 GLK that is one of the vehicles the department has from forfeitures that are currently part of an online auction. Miami Herald Staff

Jesus Pons, a former high-level manager with Miami-Dade’s General Services Administration, stole millions in taxpayer dollars. Before his arrest in 2013, he used some of the cash in classic Miami fashion: He bought a Mercedes.

That car is now up for auction by the Miami-Dade Police Department. The 2010 red Mercedes 350 GLK is one of five vehicles being auctioned online by the police department. As of Tuesday afternoon, the car, with 28,837 miles, was fetching $14,600. The Kelley Blue Book value on a similar car with similar mileage listed in good condition is $21,026.

The Miami-Dade Police Department is auctioning off vehicles that have been forfeited due to criminal activity during an online auction taking place from July 6-20, 2015. The vehicles can be purchased at www.publicsurplus.com. Video by Emily Michot

Thirteen bids for the car have been entered into the online auction site, www.publicsurplus.com.

“We are selling items that we have obtained through forfeiture,” said Miami-Dade Police Sgt. John Barrow. “State law allows the police department to confiscate contraband items and items used or bought with proceeds from crime and illegal activity, sell them, and use them toward enhancing law enforcement work in the county.”

Also up for auction is a 2015 Palazzo motor home, a Chevy van, and two box trucks.

The Palazzo was seized after it was purchased with illegal proceeds from organized crime. Barrow says the crime ring was stealing money and items from Home Depot.

“They bought this right before their empire fell,” Barrow said.

The motor home, originally $220,000, is priced at $75,000 in the auction. The Chevy van was seized in connection to the same organized crime group. It is going for $2,000.

One of the box trucks, a 1995 Ford F-700LPO, was seized in May 2013 when police raided the Southwest Miami-Dade home of Lazaro Raul Caro. According to the forfeiture complaint, the truck had a trap door that was used to hide a hydroponics lab for growing marijuana. The truck is priced at $499.

Potential buyers cannot test drive the vehicles. They are sold ‘‘as is’’ on the auction website, Barrow said.

According to Barrow, the money made from such auctions goes toward special Miami-Dade Police Department investigations.

“When we receive forfeited items and sell them, the proceeds are deposited into the law enforcement trust fund, which is a trust fund set up for specialized activities such as protracted investigations or to obtain specialized equipment needed for special investigations,” said Barrow.

Meanwhile, Pons, the county bureaucrat who used the cover name of mobster Meyer Lansky, pleaded guilty last year to eight felony counts of grand theft and one of unlawful compensation. In all, he must serve 54 months in prison, with an added five years of probation. Pons also ageed to pay $1 million in restitution.

According to prosecutors, Pons arranged to overbill for work never done by Data Industries Inc., then got kickbacks of between 10 and 50 percent of the profits. This was done while he continued to collect a county paycheck. As part of Pons’ plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop all charges against his wife, Diana, and her brother, Bruno.

CORRECTION

An earlier version of this article incorrectly characterized Diana Pons and her brother, Bruno Diaz. Prosecutors dropped all of the charges against Diana Pons and Bruno Diaz as part of a plea deal with her husband, Jesus Pons, who pleaded guilty last year to eight felony counts of grand theft and one of unlawful compensation. He agreed to serve more than four years in prison and pay $1 million in restitution.

Online auction

The Miami Dade Police online auction ends at 3:30 a.m. July 20. Items up for bid can be found at www.publicsurplus.com.

For information on the auction, call 305-471-2982.

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