Former Miami Dade Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes
A former uniformed police officer with the Miami Dade County Police Department pled guilty today to accepting bribes in furtherance of an illegal pirate towing scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan Perez, Acting Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.
Yuri Millan, pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy against the laws of the United States, that is, engaging in a wire fraud scheme resulting in the deprivation of his honest services and accepting bribes in connection with his official duties at MDPD, an agency that receives federal funding, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Millan’s codefendants, Oriel Ugardes, and Jose Guim, previously pled guilty to the same charge on January 13, 2016.
According to the court record, including documents filed in support of the defendants’ guilty pleas, between December 2013 and May 2014, Millan accepted bribes from Ugardes and Guim in exchange for Millan secretly using his position as a police officer to assist their towing businesses. Millan would provide Ugardes and Guim information regarding and access to MDPD accident scenes, where Ugardes and Guim would illegally solicit stranded drivers for business. In January 2014, after MDPD switched to an encrypted radio communication system, Millan agreed to rent his MDPD radio to Ugardes and Guim so that they could listen to encrypted police communications in an effort to locate accidents before their competitors. Millan’s misconduct resulted in Ugardes and Guim illicitly acquiring more than $5,000 worth of business.
The plot was uncovered through the use of recordings by confidential informants, wire intercepts on Ugardes’s telephone, and the seizure of Millan’s police radio from Ugardes after investigators watched Ugardes pick the radio up from Millan’s residence. In their own separate plea agreements, Ugardes and Guim also admitted paying thousands of dollars of bribes to Millan and another former MDPD employee, Public Service Aide Elina Rodriguez.
Millan, Ugardes, and Guim are scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2016, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Darrin P. Gayles. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release. The court may also impose a maximum fine of $250,000.
In December 2015, Rodriguez pled guilty to related federal conspiracy charges before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro. Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on February 22, 2016.
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.