Former Opa Locka City Manager Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes
The former Opa Locka City Manager pled guilty this morning to accepting bribes in furtherance of an illegal municipal corruption scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. 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.
David Chiverton pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy against the laws of the United States, that is, Federal programs bribery and extortion under color of official right, in connection with his official duties as Opa Locka’s Assistant City Manager, and subsequently as City Manager, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
“In open court today, a former Opa Locka City Manager admitted under oath that he sold away his commitment to fairly administer the city’s services - for a personal profit,” stated U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “It is imperative that public officials abide by the rules, policies and legal practices that are in place to prohibit any abuse of the public’s trust. Otherwise, corrupt officials will continue to find themselves the target of law enforcement prosecutions that seek federal penalties for their misconduct.”
“Corrupt officials – either elected or appointed - are on notice; if they breach the public’s trust through stealing or accepting bribes in the course of their official duties, they will be vigorously investigated,” said William J. Maddalena, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “The FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable any public official who utilizes their position for personal again. We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. This information is vital to our work.”
According to the court record and statements made in open court, between March 2014 and March 2016, Chiverton agreed with an unnamed Opa Locka elected official (“Public Official A”), 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.
As explained in open court at the guilty plea, Public Official A 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. Public Official A would pay Chiverton, and also would tell the paying businesses and individuals to pay Chiverton directly in exchange for these official actions. Chiverton also directly and indirectly solicited and obtained illegal cash payments in exchange for official actions assisting businesses and individuals with the same types of issues as described above.
As admitted in open court at the guilty plea, over the course of a number of months, Chiverton, in conjunction with Public Official A and another co-conspirator, accepted over $5,000 in illegal cash payments from one Opa Locka business owner in connection with the issuance of an occupational license and the resolution of three code enforcement fines and $63,000 in liens that had been placed on the business owner’s property. In addition, Chiverton, at the direction and on behalf of Public Official A, accepted an illegal $2,500 cash payment from another Opa Locka businessman as partial payment for resolving the licensing and zoning issues connected with that individual’s business.
Chiverton is scheduled to be sentenced on November 21, 2016, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. He faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release. The court may also impose a maximum fine of $250,000.
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 and Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Selmore.
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.