Former Miami-Dade Police Department Officer Charged in Illegal Bribery and Kickback Scheme
Former Miami-Dade Police Department Officer Lazaro Ponce was arrested for his participation in a bribery and kickback scheme, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 666(a)(1)(B), and 666(a)(2).
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.
On May 20, 2016, Ponce voluntarily surrendered pursuant to an Information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In that charging document, Ponce is alleged to have accepted bribes over a one-year period during which he was employed as a uniformed MDPD police officer. In exchange for cash payments from tow truck drivers, Ponce would permit those drivers to circumvent the Miami Dade rotational towing list and illegally solicit business from stranded motorists at MDPD accident scenes. Ponce is also alleged to have provided accident locations to tow truck drivers in exchange for payments and, on at least one occasion, gave his encrypted MDPD radio to some of his non-police coconspirators to help further the scheme.
After his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan, Ponce was released on a $200,000 personal surety bond. The case is presently assigned to United States District Judge Joan Lenard, Case No. 16-CR-20361-Lenard. If Ponce is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum term of three years’ supervised release.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the MDPD Internal Affairs Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Lacosta.
An information is merely an allegation and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.