Richard Scruggs Goes From Public Corruption to Gang Busting

The public corruption unit at the

Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is getting quite a makeover.

Longtime unit chief Joe Centorino will soon depart to take on a new

gig as executive director of the Miami-Dade ethics commission. And

assistant state attorney Richard Scruggs is now working the gang

detail, Banana Republican has learned.

The reassignment comes a month after

Scruggs dropped

his grand theft case against Liberty City politician Michelle

Spence-Jones, clearing her return to the Miami commission.

She was also acquitted by a jury on a separate, unrelated bribery

case in March.

The move could be interpreted as a demotion, but State Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith asserted Scruggs's transfer is unrelated to Spence-Jones. Griffith explained the gang unit works closely with federal law enforcement authorities and applies for federal grants on a regular basis. When he was an assistant U.S. attorney, Scruggs sent cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh to prison.

"Given Richard's extensive experience both working for and working with the federal government, it was obvious that he could easily fill this unique role while additionally adding his trial experience to the high-level litigation skills of the unit," Griffith said. That is a mouthful.

In addition to Centorino and Scruggs, two other veteran public corruption prosecutors are moving on. Assistant state attorney Howard Rosen became head of the organized crime division, while William Altfield -- who successfully prosecuted two corrupt former Miami-Dade cops -- was appointed as a Miami-Dade County judge by the governor this past August.

This doesn't mean no one is working public corruption cases. Assistant state attorneys Christopher Angell, Ray Araujo, and Tim VanderGiesen have been assigned to the unit, which will be managed on an interim basis by chief assistant state attorney Jose Arrojo, who oversaw Centorino, Griffith said.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.