Miami Beach Fire Inspector Chai Footman Pleads Guilty to Nightclub Shakedown

Two months after five Miami Beach code inspectors and two members of the Miami Beach Fire Department were arrested on charges of shaking down a Miami Beach nightclub, Chai Footman, a fire inspector, has plead guilty to charges of corruption.

Footman and six other Miami Beach employees were alleged to have tried to extort more than $25,000 over several months from the owner of Club Dolce on South Beach. The men would overlook code violations in exchange for the money.

The inspectors first made the overtures in July 2011, and the owner of the club promptly tipped of the FBI. An undercover agent posed as the manager of the club and made the dupe payments. The men also received comped parties at the club. Footman himself took home $3,800 from the undercover agent.

Jose L. Alberto, the lead code compliance inspector, four other code inspectors (Willie E. Grant, Orlando E. Gonzalez, Ramon D. Vasallo, and Vicente L. Santiesteban), and another member of the MBFD (Henry L. Bryant) were also indicted.

Santiesteban had previously plead guilty as part of a plea deal.

Footman will be sentenced on October 19, according to the Miami Herald. He could face between a year and a half and two years in jail, but as part of his plea deal has agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Chai had made $116,000 a year in his job as a fire inspector.

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