Crime

Miami cop accused in Ponzi scheme allowed to leave jail – but will be confined to home

Miami Police Officer Dermis Hernandez, accused of running a Ponzi scheme, appeared in federal court on Friday.
Miami Police Officer Dermis Hernandez, accused of running a Ponzi scheme, appeared in federal court on Friday. Miami Herald

The Miami cop accused of running a Ponzi scheme won’t have to stay in jail but he isn’t exactly free.

A federal judge on Friday allowed Dermis Hernandez, 41, to post a $40,000 bond, but he must remain on house confinement — and wear an electronic monitor — while he awaits trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, will only be allowed to meet with his lawyer, go to the doctor and attend church.

He appeared in court three days after the FBI arrested him as he boarded a flight to Costa Rica. Prosecutors believe that the longtime Miami police officer ran a phony investment scam on his off-hours, targeting fellow cops.

His defense attorney, Gregory Gonzalez, called his client as “father, husband, officer and Navy veteran.” Gonzalez also called the investors “good and humble hardworking people.”

“We wish this case were in civil court, but we will pursue the process with a heavy heart, aware of how all have been impacted,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

According to a criminal complaint, Hernandez offered “low-risk” investments in his company, which he claimed was giving high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. The loan recipients used their properties in the Central American country as collateral, he said.

The victims were told they would be getting over 20 percent returns on their investments — at least one man took out $10,000 from his police retirement fund to participate.

But Hernandez was using phony paperwork to back up his claims and actually used the money “for personal enrichment and to pay the returns of other investors,” according to the criminal complaint.

Hernandez, a police officer since 2004, was most recently assigned to the marine-patrol unit.

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