It seems pretty common that Miami-area cops mishandle evidence and critical police property. Mere days after a group of Miami Police Department civilian employees were fired for driving away with property stored in evidence lockers, a City of Miami Beach worker, Jason Bruder, was hit today with nine misdemeanor charges of falsifying public records. Charging documents from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office say Bruder was caught falsifying lists of items in a crime scene squad "evidence cabinet log" in nine instances.
A police spokesperson says the charges involved "neither narcotics nor money."
MBPD first suspended Bruder, a 13-year civilian employee of the department, July 15. As a crime scene technician, he was tasked with collecting fingerprints and forensic evidence from crime scenes. MBPD issued a release in July announcing Bruder had been suspended with pay after he was caught keeping evidence inside special lockers that only he could access. The department said in July that it was trying to figure out if Bruder had any tainted cases — but police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said it was unlikely the evidence had left police headquarters.
Today's charges raise suspicion that Bruder's actions affected criminal investigations. Rodriguez declined to comment on the issue and referred questions to the State Attorney's Office.
MBPD Chief Dan Oates announced today the arrest marked a "sad day" for the department:
This a sad day for the Miami Beach Police Department. This behavior was a betrayal of trust. I am confident that our joint investigation with the Miami Dade SAO has concluded appropriately. We will now be taking prompt administrative action. https://t.co/1pZjhvMbxj— Daniel J. Oates (@MBPDChiefOates) September 21, 2018
This is merely one of an avalanche of recent evidence-security squabbles for local Miami-area police departments. On the mainland, Miami PD was caught keeping crucial cold-case murder evidence inside a metal storage container outdoors under an I-95 overpass. That storage locker rusted and leaked. As a result, evidence in more than 500 cases might be tainted or destroyed. Former Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes was then caught lying about how long he'd known about the rotting evidence unit — it turns out he'd written memos about the unit's decrepit condition for several years.
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Separately, Miami PD still has not explained why or how someone stole 11 decades-old revolvers from police storage. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been investigating that incident since 2016.
Then, last week, New Times confirmed three civilian employees were caught driving away with police "property" (not evidence, technically) from those same Miami PD storage units. Two employees were fired, while another, who was also interviewed as part of the inquiry into the 11 stolen guns, voluntarily resigned. The men allegedly grabbed items from storage lockers and drove away with them in private cars. Miami PD refuses to identify the items taken or if they were recovered.
As for Rundle, the charges appear to be bizarrely selective. Her office has been repeatedly accused of going soft on local cops who break the law — her investigators have repeatedly been presented with clear evidence that officers have perjured themselves or lied on sworn arrest forms, but she has regularly declined to prosecute the offenders.
The charges also come mere days after Raimundo Atesiano, the former chief of the 11-member Village of Biscayne Park Police Department, pleaded guilty to framing multiple black teens for burglaries they did not commit. Two men — one framed as a teen and another framed and deported to Haiti — are now suing that department.