MIAMI (CBS4) – A former Miami Beach Code Compliance officer has pleaded guilty to extortion charges, U.S. States Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer announced Monday.
Jose L. Alberto pleaded to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Prosecutors say while working as a Lead Officer, Alberto and several others schemed to extort cash payments from a South Beach nightclub in exchange for turning the other cheek on code violations.
At Monday’s hearing, Alberto admitted that in June of 2011, he told the owner of Club Dolce on South Beach that he would not enforce a large fine for a code violation, if he gave him a cash pay-out.
The owner reported Alberto to the FBI, which began an uncover investigation. During that time, federal agents found that Alberto accepted 22 separate cash pay-outs totaling $16,000 from either the nightclub owner or an undercover agent posing as the club manager.
Alberto also admitted in court that while he was accepting the cash, he was also introducing other code enforcement officers to the undercover FBI agent, promising to protect the club from future fine. Two of those officers, Vicente Santiesteban and Orlando Gonzalez have also pled guilty to conspiracy charges and are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming months.
Alberto faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on November 2nd.