Seven Miami Beach Code Inspectors and Firefighters (Plus a Dade Cop) Busted for Nightclub and Cocaine Shenanigans

Seven Miami Beach employees and a Miami-Dade cop found themselves hit with public corruption charges today in two separate cases. In the first, code compliance officers and firefighters allegedly accepted cash payoffs from South Beach nightclubs to ignore code issues that might have closed the establishments.

In the second, a firefighter and a police officer allegedly agreed to help transport what they believed were kilos of cocaine. Yep, Miami Beach officials just got busted for the most Miami Beach-like corruption imaginable.

In June 2011, Jose L. Alberto, the lead code compliance inspector for the City of Miami Beach and a longtime city employee -- who was coincidentally scheduled to be honored by the city commission this morning -- told an owner of an unidentified nightclub that he would ignore code violations in exchange for a hefty payoff. 

The owner promptly tipped off the FBI. The feds sent in an undercover agent who posed as the manager of the nightclub and made several payouts to Alberto as well as four Miami Beach code compliance officers (Willie E. Grant, Orlando E. Gonzalez, Ramon D. Vasallo, and Vicente L. Santiesteban) and two Miami Beach firefighters (Henry L. Bryant and Chai D. Footman).

The seven men collected more than $25,000 in payoffs over several months, the feds say.

One of the firefighters involved in the first case, Henry L. Bryant, appeared to have his hands full of corruption. Last December, he discussed with an undercover agent the possibility of recruiting police officers to help protect the transportation of cocaine. Bryant took the bait and told the undercover agent that not only would Miami-Dade Officer Daniel L. Mack provide protection but also Bryant would move the coke in his own vehicle.

In December, the FBI says, Bryant transported nine kilos of what he thought was cocaine in his vehicle. He moved ten more kilos of fake coke in January. Mack, meanwhile, used his Miami Beach police cruiser to protect Bryant.

The pair received $25,000 for the scheme, the feds allege.

"When corrupt officials break the law for their own personal gain, they breach the public's trust and violate the very principles they have sworn to uphold," Dena E. Choucair, acting special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami division, said in a statement. "This should serve as a reminder to all of our public officials that no one is above the law."

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