Miami cop pleads guilty to taking bribes for accident data

A Miami police officer pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of accepting cash bribes in exchange for providing “pirate” tow-truck operators with information about traffic accidents.

Julio Ruiz, 42, admitted that he misused his official position to pocket bribes from rogue towing businesses before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga in Miami federal court.

Ruiz pleaded to three counts of accepting bribes totaling $1,800 between April and June of 2013. In addition, he received a cellular phone. Each offense carries up to 20 years in prison, but Ruiz is expected to receive a far less punishment at his Dec. 22 sentencing hearing because he accepted responsibility.

Ruiz was among three Miami police officers and two public-service aides relieved of duty in December stemming from an FBI probe of alleged bribery schemes between local law enforcement agencies and towing companies.

The other two city officers relieved of duty were Michael Bode and Artice Peoples. They have not been charged.

So far, 12 defendants have been convicted in the ongoing corruption investigation into unlawful towing referrals for kickback payments.