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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 23, 2018

Former Opa Locka City Commissioner Sentenced for Role in Corruption Scheme

Former City of Opa Locka Commissioner Luis Santiago was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams, 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). 

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement. 

Santiago was sentenced to a term of 51 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Santiago’s sentence also included restitution and an order of forfeiture, along with the imposition of a $100 special assessment.  Santiago was the fourth person to date convicted and sentenced as part of the ongoing federal investigation into Opa Locka municipal corruption being led by the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). 

Santiago previously pled guilty to an Information and admitted to 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.

In exchange for the illegal payments Santiago and an associate would obtain from these businesses and individuals, City of Opa Locka officials and employees, including Chiverton and Harris, would be directed and pressured  to assist them 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 sometimes pay Chiverton for this assistance, and on occasion would tell the businesses and individuals to pay Chiverton directly in exchange for these official actions. 

Chiverton and Harris previously pled guilty to the same corruption conspiracy charge, as did Demetrius Corleon Taylor, a non-employee who also helped collect money from Opa Locka businesses in exchange for official actions by city employees.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and IRS-CI.  This case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Edward Stamm and Assistant United States Attorney Maurice Johnson.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated February 23, 2018