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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The director of Miami International Airport’s terminal maintenance division has been arrested on bribery charges.
“Ivan Valdes was a 27-year employee of the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who said he was the ringleader along with three others that stole $5 million taxpayer dollars.
According to an affidavit, Valdes had a lot of power in his position as director for the Aviation Dept., in charge of making major purchases. The state claims he got together with his buddies in a scheme to secure bids for light fixtures, and in return, he’d get a cut of the money.
“They intentionally corrupted the competitive bid system forcing the airport to purchase light fixtures for twice the actual retail value,” Fernandez Rundle told the media Friday.
The State says he used that money on a multitude of things like paying off his Cadillac Escalade. They claim he even used his wife to make cash deposits from payoffs.
The affidavit says money was used to purchase “designer clothing from Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom’s, and Sartori Amici, renting suites to attend concerts at the American Airlines Arena, jewelry, and upgrades to their residence.”
“It’s disappointing to see that there are still individuals who think that they can get away with stealing from the public,” the state attorney added.
Valdes, who started nearly three decades ago with Lawn Maintenance at the Aviation Department, worked his way up to an upper management position. The State Attorney says his almost six-figure salary was not enough for him.
“The sad thing is that Ivan Valdes should have been seen as a classic American success story,” said Fernandez Rundle. “But then he got greedy.”
He was charged with bribery, bid tampering and money laundering. Court records show the 46-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges early Friday.