The Miami Herald by David Ovalle - April 12, 2011
Three police officers in the exclusive oceanside town of Golden Beach are facing charges that they scammed taxpayers while working off duty. Omar Paez, 41, and Yovany Diaz, 33, surrendered Tuesday to Miami-Dade County Jail to face charges of grand theft and organized scheme to defraud. Diaz also is facing two counts of official misconduct. Their arrest comes three months after Golden Beach Sgt. Lyndean Peters was arrested on similar charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial for grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and insurance fraud. The arrests have stunned a department that has only 19 full-time sworn officers. “I want to be clear that the behavior that’s being alleged against these officers will not be tolerated in our town,” Golden Beach Mayor Glenn Singer said in a statement. “Although our town is small, we have always taken great pride in providing our residents with exceptional public safety,” Singer said. “That’s what makes this situation so disappointing, not just for the commission and me, but for all of the honest hard working men and women who suit up each day to protect our residents.’’ The tiny town is located on a 1.3-mile stretch along A1A just south of the Broward-Dade line. The arrests are part of an ongoing probe by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami-Dade Police’s public corruption unit and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. In March 2009, Golden Beach honored Paez as the officer of the month. In July 2009, Diaz, a marine patrol officer, was officer of the month. FDLE investigators say the officers knowingly skirted rules governing off-duty security jobs. That includes paying the town a $5 fee per off-duty hour worked, to defray the costs of maintaining their police cars, gasoline, uniforms and insurance. According to an arrest warrant, Paez, an afternoon shift sergeant, failed to report 246.5 hours worked protecting a state road work project at Northwest 25th Street and 72nd Avenue. He also worked at least four hours off duty while he was supposed to be patrolling the town, the warrant said. In all, he stole about $1,500 by not paying the “administrative fee,” the warrant said. Investigators say Diaz stole $1,720 by not reporting 344 hours of off-duty work, and another $312 for double dipping. Paez and Diaz have been relieved of duty without pay pending the outcome of their cases.