MIAMI-DADE POLICE OFFICERS CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE AND PERJURY
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced that a federal grand jury returned an Indictment against three Miami-Dade Police Department officers in connection with their involvement in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, make false statements, and commit perjury in a federal criminal case.
The Indictment charges Officers Jorge Luis Gonzalez, 27, and Alkibiades Dodge, 37, and Sergeant Waell Majed Farraj, 33, with conspiracy to make false statements, obstruct justice, and commit perjury, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, making false statements to a federal agent, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, and obstruction of justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1503. In addition, Officer Gonzalez and Sergeant Farraj are charged with committing perjury in their sworn testimony before a United States District Judge, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1623(a).
The charges in the Indictment arise out of the actions of these three defendants in connection with the arrest and subsequent federal prosecution of an individual (“P.M.”) on a firearms possession charge. As alleged in the Indictment, the three defendants made false statements, and wrote and used Miami-Dade Police Department documents containing false statements, concerning the circumstances surrounding the stop and search of a vehicle in which P.M. was a passenger. The defendants then allegedly provided this false information and these documents to an agent of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives on the evening of the stop and seizure, and P.M. was arrested by federal authorities.
After P.M. was charged federally, all three defendants allegedly perpetuated the obstruction of justice scheme, and Gonzalez and Farraj committed perjury by testifying to the same false account while under oath at a hearing before the presiding judge, United States District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. This material false sworn testimony was given in a suppression hearing which Judge Altonaga was conducting to determine whether the firearm seized from the vehicle, and the statements made by P.M., would be admissible against P.M. in his trial. When the criminal conduct of these three officers was uncovered, the government then dismissed the case against P.M.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman said, “Our system of justice is based on the integrity and truthfulness of every witness that testifies in court. Law enforcement officers, like any other witnesses, are sworn to tell the truth. When any witness lies under oath or conspires to obstruct justice, our system of justice is undermined. The damage is twofold when it is a police officer who lies or obstructs justice: it not only weakens the public’s faith in our legal system, but also shakes the public’s confidence in police officers who are sworn to uphold the laws. As prosecutors and law enforcement officers, it is our responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the legal system.”
John V. Gilles, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office, added, "A police officer’s integrity is never negotiable. It is the backbone of every law enforcement agency and a department will not be successful if it doesn’t have the trust of the people it serves. We are fortunate to have a professional, well-respected organization such as the Miami-Dade County Police Department. Unfortunately, a few police officers have betrayed the oath they took and will be held accountable for their actions, losing not only their jobs but their reputations. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to root out those officers who have not lived up to the high ethical standards law enforcement officers are proud to uphold."
Miami-Dade Police Department Director James K. Loftus states, “Anytime there is an allegation of official misconduct against a member of the Miami-Dade Police Department, that questions integrity and professionalism, we will cooperate and conduct an impartial and thorough investigation. Although the allegation of perjury is very serious, the majority of the men and women of the Miami-Dade Police Department are hardworking dedicated individuals that do an outstanding job of protecting the citizens and enforcing the laws of the State of Florida. Miami-Dade Police Department will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to address all allegations of criminal behavior, even if it hits home.”
If convicted of all the charges, defendant Gonzalez faces a maximum possible term of imprisonment of 30 years, defendant Farraj faces a maximum possible term of imprisonment of 25 years, and defendant Dodge faces a maximum possible term of imprisonment of 20 years. The initial appearance will be Friday, February 12, 2010, at 1:30 pm before the Honorable Chris M. McAliley in Miami. The case has been assigned to District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen E. Gilbert.
An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.