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2nd Road Chief Gets Prison in Bribery

Friday, August 1, 2014

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Two former Miami-Dade public-works officials have been sentenced to prison for their roles in accepting bribes from a manufacturer's rep to use the supplier's products in their jurisdiction.

The supplier, who has been cooperating with federal authorities in the case, has been identified only as a street-lighting manufacturer.

The cases involve a decade of corruption in the position of Roadway Lighting Coordinator for Miami-Dade. That position oversees the installation and maintenance of more than 45,000 street lights in the county system.

MLS Group

Miami-Dade's Roadway Lighting Coordinator, a position held by both defendants in succession, oversees the installation and maintenance of more than 45,000 street lights.

Many of the lighting projects received federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment (Stimulus) Act.

Both defendants in the case served as Roadway Lighting Coordinator during the crimes at issue.

Cruises, Hotels and Credit Cards

On Tuesday (July 29), longtime coordinator Garfield Perry, 67, was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $12,500 in the scheme. Perry pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to accept bribes in connection with programs receiving federal funds and to commit extortion.

Authorities said Perry had accepted about $150,000 from the supplier's rep from 2002 to 2009, while serving in the public works position. (He had been with the department for about 20 years overall.)

In return, they said, Perry agreed to use the manufacturer's products.

According to the FBI, Perry "regularly directed" the rep "to make the bribe payments by paying down debts owed by Perry, including payments on two home mortgages, one car loan, two home insurance policies, two car insurance policies, and eight credit cards."

Garfield Perry George Brown
Local10.com (left); Broward Sheriff's Dept. (right)

Both Garfield Perry (left) and George Brown have been sentenced to prison for accepting bribes from a highway lighting vendor. Perry will serve five years; Brown, two and a half.

Perry also accepted "cruise vacations, domestic and international airline tickets, payments for hotels and theater tickets" as bribes from the rep.

Splitting the Check

In addition, authorities said, Perry had the rep "make bribe payments by issuing checks payable to third parties, and, after the checks were cashed, determined the manner in which the proceeds were to be split."

Perry left his county position in November 2009 to join The MLS Group, a collection of companies that provides lighting, engineering, manufacturing and other services. The company listed him as Vice President of the Construction, Maintenance and Development Division as well as the operations manager of Utility Lighting, an MLS company.

As of May 2014, Perry no longer worked at MLS, Local 10 reported.

Earlier Plea

Earlier this year, George Brown, 50, Perry's successor from 2009 to 2011, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from the same contractor and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. In March, a blogger described Brown as "an 11-year employee with an $80,000-a-year salary" before his arrest.

Brown, who was charged last year, admitted that he had accepted $13,000 in household appliances (an oven, stainless-steel refrigerator and air-conditioning unit) and other merchandise from the vendor.

Authorities were tipped to the case in 2012 by the owner of a "number of companies which sell products to the traffic systems, signs and lighting industry." That supplier had been selling to Miami-Dade since the early 1990s and began cooperating with authorities in the case in July 2012.

The Arrangement

According to an FBI affidavit, the informant first approached Brown in 2011. The informant said he received "reward points" for his sales and offered to pass along the points to Brown "for his help in ensuring that the [Department of Public Works] purchased those products."

Garfield Perry
MLS Group

As Operations Manager for Utility Lighting at The MLS Group, Garfield Perry oversaw this 2012 installation. Perry joined MLS after years as Roadway Lighting Coordinator for Miami-Dade.

One point was worth one dollar, which could be redemeed for merchandise, the informant said. As the county bought the products, Brown would tell the informant what merchandise to buy for him and deliver to him.

In return, Brown made sure that the rep's products were purchased by DPW.  Brown even tried to get consultants fired if they recommended alternative products, court documents say.

On one 2012 job alone, Brown persuaded DPW to buy more than $40,000 of the supplier's products. For that assistance, Brown received $2,683.13 in merchandise.

As the case began to unravel and Brown learned he was under investigation, he and the informant talked at several meetings that were recorded. The conversations provided ample details for the arrest, court documents show.

 

   

Tagged categories: Enforcement; Government; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; Lighting; Roads/Highways

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