Under Suspicion

Despite a history of corruption in its north district substation, the Miami Police Department won't get tough with its own cops

Afterward, Griffin says, Mesidor drove him to her house. He didn't remember the exact address but he described the drive there as going "up 71st Street, past New Way Towing two or three blocks, then make a right and her house is on the corner of 71st near Sixth or Fifth Avenue." Mesidor did indeed live at NW 71st Street and Third Avenue, four blocks east of New Way Auto Service. Driver registration records place her at that address, and a neighbor remembers her by name as well as by her fancy car. (Mesidor now lives in Broward County.)

According to Griffin's account, they sat in her enclosed porch and emptied out the bag. Along with about $15,000 in $10 and $20 bills was half a kilo of cocaine. Griffin recounts, "I said, “Damn.' I took the money and said I ain't doing anything with that [the cocaine]." Dealing with actual drugs, Griffin says, was too risky for him. He liked to take money and that was it. "She put the half-key in the trunk [of her patrol car]," he claims. Later he met her and gave her $5000 from the rip-off. She reportedly told him she had to turn in the drugs to the police department.

In all, Griffin alleges he did four or five jobs with Mesidor. After his arrest, he says, he mentioned Mesidor to an FBI agent and a federal prosecutor, both of whom declined to comment on the episode. "They told me they already knew about her," Griffin says. Nonetheless Griffin's information was passed on to the Miami Police Department's internal-affairs unit, according to one former internal-affairs officer. "He told us he was working with her," says the officer, "but he got away before we could interview him about it." The officer is referring to Griffin's escape after the Danny Felton sting. Internal affairs had hoped to use Griffin to sting Mesidor, this officer says.

Miami Police Chief Raul Martinez believes problems in the north district are restricted to a few bad cops
Steve Satterwhite
Miami Police Chief Raul Martinez believes problems in the north district are restricted to a few bad cops

"I don't engage in any foolishness like that," Mesidor protests. "That's not my style. If he made accusations like that, why didn't the city investigate me?"

New Times asked Griffin if there were any other witnesses who could corroborate his involvement with Mesidor. "You talk to Max [not his real name], he'll tell you," Griffin offered. "He's in prison in Georgia now."

New Times visited "Max" five weeks after first interviewing Griffin. Both Max and Griffin say they did not exchange letters or phone calls in the interim (in fact, inmates at both institutions are prohibited from calling other prisons). New Times did not mention Mesidor's name in a letter sent to Max requesting an interview.

Nestled amid the scrub pines along a two-lane country road in rural Georgia is a gray-walled state prison. Rows of nickel-bright razor wire ring the compound like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Max, a baby-faced 33-year-old with gold front teeth, is serving a twenty-year state sentence for cocaine trafficking in Georgia. He agreed to talk with New Times on condition that his true name not be used. "Marvin, he would talk to me about it, how he had this real scheme going," Max recalls. "He was riding around with guys from out of town and having these cops stop him."

Max says Griffin told him about all the cops who were working with him: "The first one he told me about was Danny [Felton]. When he told me I was like, “Whoa.' He called him once and let me listen in on the conversation. He said, “I got something for you.' Like 20 to 30 minutes later, Danny was in the neighborhood."

Max also remembers Mesidor. The reason he remembers is that they both drove the same kind of car, a red Lexus SC 400. "Marvin, he let me know she was another one," Max says. "I see them talking about two times. One time me and Marvin was at a car wash on [NW] 54th Street, around Eighth or Ninth Avenue. This was probably in 1995. She came up there, she was in her Lexus. I remember that because she was admiring my car. And I was like, “Well, they're both pretty cars.' About four days later she came to the neighborhood and talked to Marvin. He told me: “She has a lil' lick for me.' You know, a little something for him to do, a job."

Depending on how you look at it, the year 2000 was either good or bad for the Miami Police Department's north district. Prosecutors charged one officer with trafficking in drugs, another with stealing what he thought was drug money, and a civilian department secretary for trying to lure a policewoman into helping her rob drug dealers. The scandals were good because they showed that after years of rumors, the department was willing to arrest its own in an effort to weed out bad cops. They were bad because they damaged the department's image, especially following the federal indictment of former Chief Donald Warshaw for misspending money from a charity and police pension funds. But at least the department was finally getting some results. (Many of the officers interviewed for this story believe the new aggressiveness is largely the result of Lt. Danny Dominguez being put in charge of the anticorruption division of the internal-affairs unit, a position he assumed a year and a half ago under former Chief William O'Brien.)

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