Reporting David Sutta
South Florida Crime
MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – New details about the seven city of Miami Beach workers that were arrested last week after an FBI sting showed employees with previous arrests, convictions, and other behavior that could get a person fired.
The Miami Beach code compliance and fire inspectors are accused of shaking down a club owner for thousands of dollars to make violations disappear. During a six month sting, an undercover FBI agent lined code enforcement and fire inspectors’ pockets with cash to make violations go away.
Tuesday afternoon CBS4’s David Sutta reviewed the employees’ files and the mountain of paperwork contained hundreds of documents about the pasts of the workers.
There is typist Willie Grant hired in 1995. He quickly was promoted only to be fired in 1999 when a background check revealed he had not disclosed a gambling conviction from 1976. After lawyers got involved the city eventually hired him back.
Orlando Gonzalez worked in the IT department until he was laid off in 2009. The city then re-hired him as a code compliance officer. His file shows he had a long list of infractions on his driving record.
The city actually made him sign off on a series of guidelines including keeping a valid driver’s license before offering him the job. In 2008, Gonzalez was arrested for battery on a police officer. The accompanying arrest report explains it was a house party in which Gonzalez tried to prevent the officers from walking in uninvited. The officers proceeded to arrest him.
Fire inspector Chai Footman was the party animal according to FBI documents, allegedly trading fire inspections for free drinks and food at the club. His file shows he was once a Silver Knight recipient and that he struggled to pay his bills early on. He had good reviews.
Footman’s boss though, Henry Bryant, had several incidents in his personnel jacket. Bryant is the 22-year veteran that according to the FBI not only took bribes during their sting, but smuggled sham cocaine to Aventura on two occasions.
Previously, Miami Beach suspended Bryant for 36 hours after his fire chief discovered he was not doing the inspections he claimed on his paperwork.
No one’s file though can touch Jose Alberto. He’s accused of starting the bribe operation back in June 2011. Alberto started in the parks department in 1993 using lawn mowers and shovels. Over his 19 year career he worked his way up to senior code compliance supervisor where he most recently oversaw 43 employees.
Between commendations and superb reviews there is quite the criminal record. It includes theft, cocaine possession, and DUI. He notes in the paperwork that he’s clean though with the help of Alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, and God.
If the allegations are true it appears these guys gave up a lot for a few thousand dollars. Code compliance supervisor Jose Alberto made $117,000 last year. Fire inspector Chai Footman brought in $119,000. Henry Bryant, the senior fire inspector, made $125,000 last year.
It’s all money that’s now gone as the City of Miami Beach is moving to fire them.