Former Opa Locka Official Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes
The former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director pled guilty yesterday afternoon 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.
Gregory Harris pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to receive and accept bribes in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B) and to commit extortion under color of official right, in connection with his official duties as an Opa Locka city employee, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
According to the court record and statements made in open court, between March 2014 and March 2016, Harris agreed with an unnamed Opa Locka elected official (“Public Official A”), former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton, 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, Harris participated in the Public Works Department aspects of the conspiracy by following the directions given by Public Official A and Chiverton, who would tell Harris to take actions such as restoring water service to businesses which had paid them illegal bribes. The corrupt conduct included Harris accepting a $300 cash payment in exchange for turning the water service back on at an Opa Locka business, and in another instance, Public Official A directing Harris to stop a shutdown of water service at a different Opa Locka business which had illegally paid Public Official A $850 cash outside his home.
Harris is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27, 2016, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom. He faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and three 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.