Three Miami cops are among at least eight city employees that have been charged with criminal activity, the Miami Police Department recently announced.
Officers Daniel Fernandez, David Valentin and Christian Alvarez-Vega were criminally charged in the first major movement by the recently-created corruption division of the Miami Police Department Internal Affairs, according to NBC Miami. Other similar investigations into corruption within the police department are expected by the division.
“This is the beginning of the end of the culture of corruption in the city of Miami,” City Commissioner Tomas Regalado said. “This is something we promised the people of Miami.”
Alvarez-Vega, a 12-year veteran of the police force, is facing federal charges of identity theft stemming from a response to a car accident on January 11, according to CBS 4 Miami.
Alvarez-Vega took an injured person to the hospital from the accident. During the transfer, Alvarez-Vega allegedly found the person’s bank card, according to documents from a U.S. Attorney’s office. Alvarez-Vega allegedly called the person later to ask for the PIN number connected to the card, claiming it was necessary for the police investigation.
The person told him the PIN number, and he reportedly went to an ATM and withdrew $460 from the person’s account.
Alvarez-Vega was released on a $150,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on April 29, according to CBS 4. He faces a maximum possible sentence of six years in federal prison for the identity theft charge, and also for the charge of depriving an individual’s civil rights while acting within law enforcement.
Fernandez and Valentin are charged with crimes of attempting to intimidate people by threatening law enforcement punishment through their status as police officers.
Valentin, who has served with Miami PD since 2002, also worked as a property manager at an apartment complex. Fernandez, a 16-year veteran, also managed the same complex during his off hours.
Valentin arranged for a tenant to be arrested on fake charges after not paying rent for an undisclosed period of time. According to NBC Miami, the move was meant to send a message to other tenants on what would happen if they fell behind on rent.
Both Valentin and Fernandez are being charged with theft and official misconduct.
The other five people arrested in the probe worked for the city and community non-profit groups. They included city employee Alex J. Martinez, as well as Laura Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez of the non-profit organization “Vecinos en Accion.” Johnnie Brown and Vincent Cobham, who work for the Alternative Program a nonprofit group focused on community service for criminals, were also arrested.
In February, Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito said arrests would be made shortly after the creation of the corruption division.
“Our unit has been in operation for four weeks and we will have arrests,” Exposito said at the time.