WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a Miami-Dade Police officer and his associate for allegedly dealing in stolen vehicles.
According to a confidential informant, MDPD Officer Orestes Santiago Verdura, who joined the department in 2013, set up the sale of two stolen pickup trucks delivered by 38-year-old Ariel Sanchez.
Payment was allegedly made in official Miami-Dade County funds to Verdura, who took the money while on duty.
Authorities said the informant is in trouble in the law for trafficking marijuana and worked with police to try to help their own case.
While the investigation into Verdura was taking place, the officer had been patrolling Miami Lakes.
According to his arrest warrant, Verdura met Sanchez several years ago as Sanchez worked as a mechanic.
Documents stated that part of Sanchez’s role was to drop off the stolen F-250s, and Verdura received the payment for them because, prosecutors said, he helped sell them.
The report stated, “Verdura told the [confidential informant] that he (Verdura) could get three or four trucks a week.”
Prosecutors said Verdura sold both trucks for $10,000 each to the informant. Both vehicles were dropped off at Home Depot stores.
Reports stated Verdura made $3,500 on the first deal and was supposed to make $4,500 on the second deal. The rest went to Sanchez.
In one of the cases, prosecutors said, Verdura was out of the country and still hadn’t been paid.
The report said, “Verdura stated that he was concerned that if they did not get paid in a timely manner, his associates knew Verdura was a police officer and could use that against him.”
On June 4, authorities zeroed in on the officer in the parking lot of El Novillo Restaurant in Miami Lakes and took him into custody.
Verdura and Sanchez are facing four third-degree felony charges: one count of conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud, one count of organized scheme to defraud and two counts of dealing in stolen property.
Their arrests are the culmination of an investigation conducted by the MDPD’s Professional Compliance Bureau and the Public Corruption Division of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued a statement that read in part, “Officer Verdura betrayed everything and everyone he pledged to honor when he began engaging in his alleged criminal activities. I am proud of the swift action taken by the Miami-Dade Police Department to end Verdura’s fraudulent activities and bring him and his associate to justice.”
Verdura is currently suspended from the force.
Bond for the suspects was set at $110,000 each.
Verdura faced a judge on Tuesday morning and ordered to house arrest with a GPS monitor, passport surrender and no contact with Sanchez.
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