Fourth Individual Sentenced on Corruption Charge Arising From Opa Locka Municipal Corruption Investigation
An individual who had a pending agreement to purchase a Miami-based licensed towing company (“the Towing Company”) was sentenced to prison after previously pleading to participating in a conspiracy to pay bribes in order to obtain a contract with the City of Opa Locka.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
Raul Sosa Sr. (“Sosa Sr.”) pled guilty before United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 666(a)(2) (Count 1 of the Superseding Indictment). On August 24, 2018, Judge Martinez sentenced Sosa Sr. to 30 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Judge Martinez ordered that the full sentence be served consecutively to the 78-month sentence Sosa Sr. is currently serving for an unrelated federal tax conviction in 2016.
According to the court record, Sosa Sr. and his son Raul Sosa Jr. (“Sosa Jr.), who was the manager of the Towing Company, conspired with then-Opa Locka City Commissioner Luis Santiago and his associate, Dante Starks, to pay Santiago and Starks a $10,000 bribe so that Santiago and Starks would use their positions and influence to ensure that the Towing Company was selected to receive a city towing contract.
The illegal agreement was finalized at an April 19, 2015 meeting between Sosa Sr., Santiago, and Starks, during which Sosa Sr. paid the first installment of the bribe and designated his son, Sosa Jr., as the person who would work with Santiago and Starks to carry out the illegal arrangement. Over the next month, Sosa Jr., who also pled guilty to conspiring to commit bribery in this case, made additional bribe payments with cash provided by Sosa Sr., and Starks arranged for an Opa Locka city employee to assemble and prepare the Towing Company’s bid package. After this bid was submitted, Starks violated the City’s purchasing Cone of Silence by contacting a member of the City’s committee ranking the towing bids and directing that individual to rank the Towing Company as the number one company. To complete the illegal arrangement, Santiago used his position as a City Commissioner to move and vote in favor of the June 24, 2015 resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into towing contracts with the Towing Company and three other companies. The next day, Sosa Jr. paid the final installment of the $10,000 bribe to Starks. Sosa Jr.’s sentencing is set for September 7, 2018, before Judge Martinez.
In related cases, arising from the Opa Locka corruption investigation, Santiago previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right (Case No. 16-20971-CR-WILLIAMS) and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. His sentence was recently reduced to 30 months in prison. Starks pled guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and to commit Federal programs bribery; and to failure to file income tax returns and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2018. (Case No. 18-20313-CR-MARTINEZ). Former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and was sentenced to 38 months in prison (Case No. 16-20596-CR). Former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right (Case No. 16-20589-CR-BLOOM). Harris was the first defendant to plead guilty to charges arising from this investigation, and received a sentence of probation.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and IRS-CI in this matter. Mr. Greenberg thanked the Miami-Dade Police Department and Hialeah Police Department for their assistance. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward N. Stamm and Maurice Johnson.