A former Doral Police Department public service aide will plead guilty March 30 for his role in a bribery scheme involving payments of thousands of dollars to gain the inside track in assisting stranded motorists and profiting from costly auto repairs.
Leonardo Mayi, a public service aide (PSA) for Doral since 2008, was arrested Jan. 29 on conspiracy and corruption charges related to his participation in a pirate towing scheme. Mayi later resigned.
An aide is a uniformed employee whose work involves nearly all duties performed by police officers. The chief difference between an aide and an officer is that an aide cannot make an arrest and does not carry a firearm. An aide also has access to law enforcement databases.
Tow-truck operators Andreo Cambria, 51, and Roberto Dominguez, 31, were also arrested. Cambria plead guilty in Miami federal court while Dominguez faces trial in April.
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The three are among about two dozen suspects who have been charged over the past year in an FBI investigation into corrupt relationships between local police departments and “pirate” towing businesses, according to federal prosecutor Anthony Lacosta.
According to court records, Cambria offered to pay Mayi cash in return for Mayi misusing his official position to steer business to Cambria and Dominguez.
During the course of the corruption scheme, Mayi would permit Cambria and Dominguez to circumvent Doral’s rotational wrecker system (their rotation list for tow-truck companies) and approach stranded drivers at accident scenes to illegally solicit their business.
Under Doral Police’s system, a police officer and service aide can only provide towing assistance to a driver involved in an accident by asking a dispatcher to call tow-truck companies on the official rotation list. Under contract, those legitimate businesses can directly solicit stranded motorists and pay Doral $30 for each tow.
To jump ahead of those on the list, they paid Mayi about $100 for each tow-job referral between February 2013 and February 2014, according to an FBI affidavit. The towing operators received the kickbacks to pay the Mayi from unnamed auto body shops, which made money off repairs.
Mayi also helped Cambria and Dominguez identify which cars had more profitable insurance companies and avoided drivers with PIP (personal injury protection). In total, Mayi told investigators he received at least $5,000 in bribes.
“Each of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, that is, engaging in a wire fraud scheme resulting in the deprivation of Mayi’s honest services and accepting bribes in connection with Mayi’s duties with the DPD, an agency that receives federal funding, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
All three defendants face five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and up to a $250,000 fine.