Former Opa Locka City Officials Charged in Corruption Scheme
Former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton and former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris have been charged for their 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.
Chiverton is charged by Information with conspiring 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. The case against Chiverton is assigned to United States District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, Case No. 16-20596-CR. Chiverton is scheduled for an initial appearance before United States Judge John J. O’Sullivan on August 8, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.
As alleged in the Information, in exchange for the illegal payments, 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 businesses and individuals to pay Chiverton directly in exchange for these official actions. Chiverton is also alleged to have 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.
Earlier today, former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris made his initial appearance on a separate Information. The case against Harris is assigned to United States District Judge Beth Bloom, Case No. 16-20589-CR.
In that separate Information, Harris is alleged to have participated in the Public Works Department aspects of the broader conspiracy set out in the Information filed against Chiverton. In particular, the Information filed against Harris alleges that both Public Official A and Chiverton would direct Harris to take actions such as restoring water service to businesses which had paid them illegal bribes. The Information alleges that Harris also obtained illegal payments in exchange for using his official position to assist those businesses and individuals by taking official actions including stopping the shutdown of water service, and directing that their water service be turned back on.
If convicted, Chiverton and Harris each face 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.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. 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.