Crime

Miami city employee forgot to send a crucial email. What he did next was a crime

Former Miami Parking Authority Director of Development, Rolando Tapanes, listens to a resident’s complaint at a Q&A at Marlins Park Centerfield garage in 2012.
Former Miami Parking Authority Director of Development, Rolando Tapanes, listens to a resident’s complaint at a Q&A at Marlins Park Centerfield garage in 2012. Miami Herald Staff

Former Miami Parking Authority administrator Rolando Tapanes goofed in not sending an important email. But that’s not what got him in trouble with the law.

His crime: trying to cover his tracks by creating a backdated email.

Prosecutors say Tapanes, 51, committed a felony crime of official misconduct when he got his tech staff to backdate a crucial email that was part of a building project in 2016. This week, he quietly accepted a plea deal, agreed to serve two years of probation and to pay $50,000 in restitution.

Under Florida law, city emails are public record and efforts to disguise, alter or hide them can be considered illegal.

“He learned a very tough lesson,” said his attorney, Michael Band. “At the end of the day, he acknowledged his participation, owned up to it and is moving on with his life.”

Miami’s Parking Authority is a government agency that manages and collects fees for municipal parking lots across the city. Tapanes was the authority’s former director of planning.

Two years ago, the parking authority selected a developer to construct a building on authority-owned property. Tapanes was supposed to send an important email notification to the loser, developer Moishe Mana.

Mana’s company later sued the city, arguing the competition for the building was rigged. It was during that litigation that officials discovered that Tapanes had instructed an employee to backdate his emails.

A forensic analysis of emails revealed the coverup.

Tapanes also fibbed when questioned as part of the civil lawsuit, although he eventually came clean. Miami-Dade’s Public Corruption Task Force, however, began an investigation after the Miami Herald wrote about Tapanes’ resignation in August 2016.

Tapanes has been unemployed since he quit, according to his lawyer. If Tapanes completes his probation, he will be eligible to have his record sealed.

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