When he came under internal investigation for stealing a black book bag from a shoplifting suspect, Miami Beach Police Officer Gary Haughton offered to return the satchel, court records show.
But when Haughton took detectives to his apartment, they got a surprise. The black bag in his bedroom was different, according to the documents — and actually belonged to yet another man whom the officer once arrested for thievery.
The department has now relieved Haughton of duty with pay as detectives and prosecutors investigate him for stealing from at least two men while on duty.
The existence of the probe was revealed in a search warrant recently filed in Miami-Dade court. The potential charge: grand theft.
The investigation is the latest black eye for a police department hoping to restore its image after a slew of embarrassing episodes involving officers in recent years, including last month’s firing of a sergeant for getting drunk while on duty.
Haughton’s attorney, Eugene Gibbons, did not return requests for comment. Haughton, an officer since 2006, had been assigned to patrol the Lincoln Road zone of South Beach. It was there that in October, he arrested Glenn Mayes for shoplifting from the Macy’s department store.
The search warrant told this story:
At the time he was arrested, Mayes claimed he had on him a Samsung smartphone, headphones, a black satchel, a black wallet and $280 cash. But the items never made it to the Miami Beach police property room or the jail’s evidence storage.
Mayes complained to internal affairs. By law, police officers can see details of the administrative case against them before an interview. Haughton reviewed his file on March 10.
He huddled in an internal affairs office with his attorney. The lawyer emerged and told investigators that Haughton indeed had the “black bag,” which had been at the police station.
“Gibbons further advised Officer Haughton removed the black bag from [the station] the previous night and relocated into his residence,” according to the warrant. The document does not explain why Haughton would have waited more than four months to turn over a suspect’s bag.
He agreed to allow internal affairs sergeants Jim Nash and Thomas Payne to retrieve the bag from his Dania Beach apartment.
But the investigators immediately realized the bag was a completely different style. Inside, they found a black wallet, $1,606.36 cash and ID cards belonging to a man named Luis Carcamo.
A records search revealed that Haughton, in November, had arrested Carcamo for stuffing a woman’s purse inside his backpack at the South Beach Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The purse’s owner got it back but Carcamo’s belongings never made it to the property room.
The investigation escalated into a criminal probe. On March 12, detectives served the search warrant on Haughton’s patrol car parked at Miami Beach headquarters. Inside the trunk, they found a black Samsung flip phone and other items inside a Macy’s bag.
Investigators must now figure out who this phone belongs to and where Mayes’ bag wound up.