Miami building owner gets short prison term for paying bribes

The owner of a Miami office building was sentenced Wednesday to one month in prison after pleading guilty to offering $13,000 in bribes to a city fire inspector to make code violations disappear.

Dvir Derhy, 46, owner of the Flagler Building Downtown, paid two bribes last summer expecting to resolve the violations for blocked exits at the property — but was only held responsible for one bribery offense under his plea agreement. That distinction, struck between his defense lawyers and the U.S. attorney's office, prevented Derhy from potentially facing up to two years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke also took into consideration Derhy's cooperation in other federal investigations, resulting in his short prison term and seven months of home confinement as part of his probation.

“We were able to reach a fair result and are pleased with the outcome,” said defense attorney Andrew Levi, who worked on the case with his law partner, Bruce Lehr.

According to his plea agreement signed in June, Derhy acknowledged that he attempted to bribe a city fire inspector over violations for having “obstructed” exit doors in his office building at 223 E. Flagler St.

“On one such occasion, Derhy tried to slip money into the inspector's shirt pocket and stated that it was for a ‘donation to the city,’ ’’according to a factual statement filed with the plea agreement. The inspector reported the bribe attempt to authorities.

After Derhy made the offer, a different city fire inspector and an FBI undercover agent posing as one met with the building owner on July 18, 2014, to discuss the violations, the statement said. Derhy gave the fire inspector and agent an envelope containing $10,000 during the audio- and video-recorded meeting.

“In exchange for the money, the fire inspectors were supposed to clear the violations concerning the exit doors of the Flagler Building without Derhy fixing the obstructed means of egress as stated on the notice of violation that he had previously received,” said the statement, which was signed by the defendant, his lawyers and the prosecutor, Harry Wallace.

“The fire inspector and undercover agent both explained to Derhy that they could get into trouble and that the bribe payment was illegal,” the statement said. “Derhy stated that he understood, and he continued to offer money to the fire inspector and the undercover agent.”

A few days later, the agent called Derhy and said he had come up with a “plan of action” for the code violations at his building but there were still “two hiccups in the road” — a work permit and backdating of paperwork.

Derhy agreed to meet with the agent at his downtown building.

“On my end I don't need any paper,” Derhy was recorded telling the agent. “I just want that no one will call me or send me a violation.”

He then, according to the statement, paid an additional $3,000 in cash to the agent to “clear everything.”