Miami Beach Officials Arrested In Bribery Sting Had Awful Records, Yet Still Made Six Figures

When the FBI swooped into Miami Beach last week to arrest seven city workers for extorting thousands from a South Beach club, the higher-ups in City Hall shouldn't have been shocked. The Miami Herald got their hands on the personnel records of the five code officers and two fire inspectors busted by the feds, and frankly, it's incredible they had jobs in the first place.

The city workers had past charges for everything from cocaine possession to DUI to hit-and-runs, and some were caught lying to their bosses about gambling convictions and falsifying inspections. Still, several were making six figures before their arrests.

The feds say the seven city workers, plus a Miami-Dade cop, were caught in a sting at a SoBe nightclub. The inspectors are accused of taking $25,000 from the club to overlook code violations, while the cop and fire inspectors are charged with protecting what they thought were cocaine shipments through the business.

Here are the lowlights the Miami Herald found on the workers' not-so distinguished resumes:

  • Jose Alberto, who earned $122,000 a year, had been arrested twice for cocaine possession, once for DUI and petty larceny, been on probation three times and was accused of simple battery on his wife
  • Henry Bryant, who also booked $122,000, was suspended for 36 hours for lying about conducting inspections and accused several other times of falsifying reports
  • Chai Footman, a $116,000-per-year worker, lied on his job application about massive debts and was under federal investigation for trading clear inspections for free parties at clubs
  • Orlando Gonzalez, who made $69,000 annually, was charged with attacking two police officers at a friend's home and with a hit-and-run
  • Willie Grant was actually fired by the city in 2000 after they caught him lying on an application and neglecting to mention a conviction for illegal gambling. But thanks to lobbying from his union, he was reinstated a year later. He made $84,000 a year.
  • Vincent Santiesteban had multiple arrests and a restraining order, including one charge of throwing rocks at Miami cops. He made $68,000 a year.
  • Ramon Vasillo, who made $90,000 a year, was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon

Who would have guessed that employees like this would have brought shame upon the City of Miami Beach?

Hey Jorge Gonzalez: Once the feds are done arresting your employees, you might want to look into a shakeup in the HR department, too.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink