It's been a bad week for Johnny Law in the 305. The day after the FBI accused a Miami-Dade cop of getting his rocks off by pulling over women and asking about their underwear and breasts, a Miami Beach officer is under arrest this morning on eight felony counts, including fraud and racketeering.
Officer George Navarro Jr. let his meth-dealing roommate drive his police cruiser and personally helped a white-collar crime ring lease cars and buy vehicles with fake titles, police say.
Navarro, a 26-year-old with six years of experience on the force, helped the white-collar ring net nearly a half-million dollars through various schemes, prosecutors say.
The cop's attorney complained to the Miami Herald this morning that prosecutors are aggressively attacking Navarro because he's a police officer.
"He wasn't at the center of core of this ring," Michael Band told the Herald. "But because he's a police officer, they threw everything they could against the guy."
Whether he's a major player or not, the charges against Navarro are eye-opening. Amazingly, the break in the case against him came from the same arrest that led to charges against David Britto, the former Boynton Beach cop who fled to Brazil last year after being charged with drug crimes.
In that arrest, in March 2011, the DEA caught two men in a Mercedes-Benz with a semiautomatic handgun, 500 grams of meth, and more than $10,000 in cash.
One of the men, Marlon Mayoli, lived with Navarro and told police that he routinely used the cop's police car to get around.
He also persuaded the cop to help in a scheme to make money by illegally subleasing cars, prosecutors say. On one occasion, he posed as a pediatrician to lease a luxury car (which was later subleased out by another dealer), and on another he used a fake title to buy a Toyota 4-Runner already in Venezuela.
Navarro's attorney, though, says the cop's only crime was trusting Mayoli.
"George trusted Marlon, and unfortunately his biggest crime was misplaced trust in someone who he took care of, looked after, assisted, loaned money to, and gave him a place to live," the lawyer tells the Herald.
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The officer, incidentally, has a high pedigree within MBPD. His dad, former Commander George Navarro Sr., made national news in 1997 as the lead investigator into Gianni Versace's murder outside his South Beach mansion.
The arrest also puts a dent in new Beach police Chief Raymond Martinez's efforts to cast a new light on the troubled department, though he tells the Herald that the arrest "is what fighting corruption looks like."