Ex-maintenance chief at Miami airport guilty in light fraud

MIAMI (AP) — A former maintenance chief at Miami International Airport has pleaded guilty to federal theft charges involving the fraudulent purchase of thousands of lighting fixtures.

Federal court documents show 46-year-old Ivan Valdes pleaded guilty Wednesday and faces a maximum of seven years in prison. Valdes was maintenance division director for the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department and is also facing state bribery, bid tampering and other charges.

The total fraud was estimated at about $5.2 million.

Prosecutors say Valdes conspired with lighting company executives and other airport employees to receive kickbacks from the rigged purchase of more than 9,000 lighting fixtures over a five-year period. Four other defendants face various fraud conspiracy charges.

Sentencing for Valdes is set for Jan. 5 in Miami federal court.

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