The Miami-Dade County Aviation Department Division Director and four others were charged in a $5,000,000 fraud and kickback scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Ivan Valdes, 46, of Miami, the Division Director for the Aviation Terminal Building Maintenance for the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, was charged in an Information with theft in programs receiving federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666. A separate Information charges Roy Jesus Bustillo, 37, Rolando Perez, 57, and Jose Barroso, 51, all of Miami, with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Another Information charges Ygnacio Valdez, 45, of Miami, an employee in the Procurement Section of the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, with misprision of a felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4.
“Taxpayers deserve to have their hard-earned monies fund local government, not the pockets of individuals who deprive South Florida residents of the benefit of honest services,” stated U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Corruption by those who hold the public’s trust corrodes the practice of fair business dealings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and our partners at the State Attorney’s Office will continue to target for prosecution all corrupt officials, regardless of their position.”
“To most people, Ivan Valdes would have been a “Great American Success Story” as he rose from a simple worker to an upper-level manager of one of America’s most dynamic airports,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Instead, pure greed and a misplaced sense of self-entitlement led him to believe that he had a right to pocket taxpayer’s money. He was wrong. My public corruption prosecutors, federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Miami-Dade Police department and the FBI are constantly working to arrest and convict any public official who steals from the public.”
“When corrupt officials put self-interest and personal enrichment ahead of their obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, they breach the public’s trust,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “The FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable any public official who utilizes their position for personal gain. We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. This information is vital to our work.”
As set forth in the charging documents, Bustillo was the exclusive area representative in South Florida for the sale of certain LED light fixtures. In or about 2010, Ivan Valdes told Barroso that he would request that the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department purchase the light fixtures represented by Bustillo, if he was paid a share of the proceeds. Valdes and Barroso agreed and during the period of 2010 through and including 2015, the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department issued approximately twenty requests for Invitations to Quote for the purchase of millions of dollars of LED light fixtures. Bustillo provided a quote to each of the vendors interested in competing for the Invitation to Quote. Global Electrical & Lighting Supplies, Inc., owned by Rolando Perez, submitted bids and was awarded the contracts for each and every Invitation to Quote issued. Perez and Bustillo had a secret agreement wherein Perez would be the only vendor who knew the actual price that Bustillo had agreed upon with the lighting manufacturer for the light fixtures and that a fake mounting accessory was included in the Invitations to Quote. Knowing the additional profit that was to be received from each of the contracts, Bustillo and Perez were able to win the Invitation to Quote by keeping Perez’ bid price low. In order to help ensure that Perez was awarded each of the contracts, Ivan Valdes paid thousands of dollars in cash to Ygnacio Valdez, whose duties in the procurement section in the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, included collecting and tallying the bids and declaring the lowest responsive bidder on the Invitations to Quote.
On two occasions, Ivan Valdes instructed Barroso to direct Perez to bid on an Invitation to Quote for light fixtures, but he further instructed that the light fixtures should not be ordered from the lighting manufacturer. Instead, on one occasion the conspirators used light fixtures already in stock at the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department to satisfy the purchase. On the other occasion, no light fixtures were ever provided, not even from those already in stock. Perez bid and won the contracts and he and his co-conspirators were paid approximately $500,000 for light fixtures that were never provided to Miami-Dade County Aviation Department.
During the course of the conspiracy, the co-conspirators defrauded the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department of approximately $5,250,000. Barroso and Ivan Valdes split fraudulent proceeds of approximately $2.2 million. Bustillo, through his companies, received fraudulent proceeds of approximately $764,000. Perez received fraudulent proceeds of approximately $1.8 million.
If convicted, the defendants face a range of statutory penalties. Ivan Valdes faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and fines of up to $250,000. Bustillo, Perez, and Barroso face a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Ygnacio Valdez faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of $250,000.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office and its Public Corruption Unit in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.
An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.