Crime

Ferrari-loving cop convicted of stealing county fuel

Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Emil Van Lugo in the garage of his West Kendall home. He was convicted of stealing taxpayer gas to fuel up his wife's new BMW.
Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Emil Van Lugo in the garage of his West Kendall home. He was convicted of stealing taxpayer gas to fuel up his wife's new BMW. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A Ferrari-loving Miami-Dade cop has been convicted of stealing county fuel.

A jury took a little more than two hours late Tuesday to convict Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Emil Van Lugo of theft and organized scheme to defraud.

Lugo, 47, remains free on bail as he awaits sentencing later this year. He faces up to five years in prison.

“Sadly, Sgt. Van Lugo cared more about cheating the county out of a few dollars to fuel his stable of cars than he did about his oath to uphold the law,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

At trial, prosecutors said that Lugo made weekly trips to a county fuel depot in Southwest Miami-Dade, gassing up his patrol car — and also two spare red gas cans.

Detectives secretly began video recording him at the depot and at his West Kendall home. At trial, prosecutors Trent Reichling and Terry Livanos showed jurors two videos of him filling up his wife’s BMW with a gas can believed to be filled with county gas.

“He’s on video on all those days at that fuel site to steal,” prosecutor Livanos told jurors.

Lugo and his defense attorney, David Edelstein, have long insisted that he used the gas cans to top off his own patrol car, never for his personal vehicles, including three Ferraris he owned at the time. He insisted he kept high-octane fuel in similar-looking gas cans inside his garage to fuel his Ferraris and occasionally fill his wife’s BMW.

The trial lasted more than a week.

Edelstein said he believes Lugo can win an appeal because a judge refused to allow a Ferrari mechanic to testify about the fuel habits of car enthusiasts.

“He was devastated by the conviction,” Edelstein said.

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