Former Opa-locka official pleads guilty to accepting bribes

Gregory Harris to be sentenced Oct.27

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PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Gregory Harris, the former Opa-locka assistant public works director,  pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in a conspiracy to receive and accept bribes and to commit extortion under color of official right in connection with his official duties. 

Florida Southern District U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer and George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI, made the announcement via a news release.

Court documents show that between March 2014 and March 2016, Harris agreed to use his official position to solicit thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from businesses and individuals in exchange for taking action to benefit those dealing with the city, the release said.

An unnamed Opa-locka official, former city manager David Chiverton and others were also in on the agreement, authorities said.

Harris participated in the public works department aspects of the conspiracy by following the directions given by the unnamed official and Chiverton, "who would tell Harris to take actions such as restoring water service to businesses which had paid them illegal bribes," the release said.

 "The corrupt conduct included Harris accepting a $300 cash payment in exchange for turning the water service back on at an Opa-locka business," the release said.

In another instance, the unnamed official ordered Harris to stop a water shutdown after the property’s owner paid the unnamed person $850 in cash.

Harris is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 27 by U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom.  He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years’ supervised release.  The court may also impose a maximum fine of $250,000.