MIAMI – Former Opa-locka city manager David Chiverton faced a federal judge Monday, changing his plea from not guilty to guilty.
Chiverton walked out of the courthouse with his attorney by his side -- a free man, at least for now.
"I just want to put it behind me and move forward with my life," Chiverton told Local 10 News.
Chiverton resigned from his job as Opa-locka city manager weeks ago amid a federal investigation into an alleged bribery and extortion ring inside city hall. It came to a head with the execution of a search warrant at Opa-locka's city offices in March.
"No matter how hard he tried to stay out of harm’s way, he was just unable to accomplish that," Chiverton's attorney, David Garvin, said.
Garvin said his client's guilty plea is proof that Chiverton wants to make things right and will fully cooperate with federal authorities.
"That means any assistance that the United States feels it needs from Mr. Chiverton -- David Chiverton is agreeing in advance that he is ready, willing and able to provide that information," Garvin said.
Chiverton is one of several Opa-locka officials, who prosecutors said took thousands of dollars in bribes from businesses or individuals in exchange for things like zoning changes, code enforcement actions, utility services, licensing and permits.
Authorities said some of the cash changed hands in Chiverton's office on city property.
Prosecutors said that Chiverton's co-conspirators included an elected official and the former public works director.
"Are there other people who you think should be taking responsibility for their actions?" Local 10 News reporter Layron Livingston asked.
"That's not my place to decide," Chiverton said. "What I hope to do is be able to put myself back in good standing -- good character, and continue to contribute to the well-being of a community that I respect and love."
Chiverton initially faced up to five years behind bars, a quarter-million dollar fine, probation and restitution.
His sentence will likely be reduced as a result of the plea deal.
Chiverton is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21.