Golden Beach Whistleblower Tammy Valdes And Her Husband Charged With Selling Illegal Guns
Tammy Valdes, a former Golden Beach Police officer who recently won $233,000 in damages against the town for wrongful termination, has been criminally charged with illegal firearms dealing. Her husband Rafael Valdes, a Hialeah Police officer, is also facing a federal charge of making a material false statement in connection with the sale or disposition of firearms, according to an indictment announced today.
Miami New Times previously reported on Valdes' three-year legal fight with Golden Beach officials. She sued the town following her dismissal in 2009.
She claimed she was unjustly fired because she tried to expose corruption in the Golden Beach Police Department. On Sept. 12, a federal jury ruled in her favor, awarding her $233,000 in damages plus attorney fees for Valdes.
According to the indictment, the 45-year-old ex-cop and her spouse had been selling firearms without a federal license from July 2005 through June of this year. The feds allege the Valdes' advertised and sold 100 guns on the Internet to individuals in 44 states. In addition, the couple attended 60 guns shows across Florida where they bought over 400 guns and sold over 500 pieces.
The Valdes' referred questions to their attorney Michael Filer, who said: "I am very confident when all the facts come to light that my clients will be vindicated." He declined further comment about the case.
The indictment also claims Tammy and Rafael sold nine firearms to undercover agents, solicited the purchase of firearms from undercover agents, and offered to acquire firearms for undercover agents. The feds claim Rafael lied to agents when he claimed he was buying firearms frames and receivers for himself when in fact the parts were for someone else.
As part of the indictment, the government wants to seize five rifles, four shotguns, and 38 handguns that were seized from the Valdes' as part of the investigation, which earlier this year nabbed a former Miami Beach police officer of illegally selling guns. That officer shared a booth next to the Valdes' display at various gun shows, the feds allege.
If convicted of dealing in firearms without a license, Tammy and Rafael each face a possible maximum five year prison sentence. If Rafael is convicted of making a material false statement, he faces an additional ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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