MIAMI - As a circuit court bailiff, she is in charge of prisoners inside her courtroom, but now, Juana Durand is a prisoner charged with three felonies committed outside her courtroom.
In several surveillance stings conducted by the Miami-Dade Police Department's public corruption unit, investigators said one can see Durand, 52, accept large cash payments to arrange legal representation, get a phony traffic school certificate and use her influence to make traffic tickets disappear.
"The appearance is a terrible one. It's unfortunate, undermining, looks like influence peddling within our system," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
At the courthouse in downtown Miami, police said they know of at least two illegal transactions done by Durand, but they believe there are probably many more, simply because of the way she conducted business right in front of the courthouse while in uniform.
In the video, she told her nervous client to sit down and relax on the bench outside the courthouse. In one clip, she even kissed the client after receiving the money.
In Spanish, she also told an undercover officer trying to get out of traffic tickets that, "Sweetwater police is listed with the (Police Benevolent Association), and we know the PBA well."
It turns out she does. Her husband, Jorge Durand, who is also a bailiff at the criminal courthouse, sits on the executive board of the PBA.
The arrest warrant also says, "Bailiff Durand further stated she would be given preferential treatment and the police officers would 'forget' the case or police officers would fail to appear in court."
PBA President John Rivera released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying, "Ms. Durand is the wife of one of our Board Members and that is the extent of our relationship with her. We are not involved in this case and have no knowledge of the facts surrounding this case. We do find the timing of this arrest suspect and it is curious that her husband's relationship to the PBA was even mentioned in the arrest warrant as it is not relevant to the case other than to try and defame our association."
A judge set Durand's bond at $35,000, and if convicted on all felony counts, she could face 25 years in prison.
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