Former Opa Locka City Commissioner Charged in Corruption Scheme
Former City of Opa Locka Commissioner Luis Santiago has been charged for his participation in a two-year long bribery and extortion under color of official right conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 666(a)(1)(B), and 1951(a).
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Santiago is charged by Information with conspiring with former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton, former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris, and others to use their official positions and authority with the City of Opa Locka to solicit, demand, and obtain thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from businesses and individuals in exchange for taking official actions to assist and benefit those businesses and individuals in their dealings with the City of Opa Locka. The case against Santiago is assigned to United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams (Case No. 16-20971-CR). Santiago had his initial appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes.
As alleged in the Information, in exchange for the illegal payments, Santiago would direct Chiverton, Harris, and other City of Opa Locka employees to assist the paying businesses and individuals by issuing occupational licenses; waiving, removing, and settling code enforcement matters and liens; initiating, restoring and continuing water service; and assisting with zoning issues. Santiago would pay Chiverton, and also would tell the businesses and individuals to pay Chiverton directly in exchange for these official actions.
Chiverton and Harris previously pled guilty. Chiverton was sentenced to 38 months in prison by United States District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, while Harris is awaiting sentencing before United States District Judge Beth Bloom.
If convicted, Santiago faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Edward Stamm.
An Information is merely an allegation and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.