MIAMI – By the time Miami police Officer Dermis Hernandez faced a judge as a federal criminal defendant Friday morning, his bond agreement was already in place.
The veteran officer was arrested by federal agents and his own department's internal affairs detectives Monday on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Agents accuse the 41-year old officer of running a Ponzi investment scheme as a side business from 2011 to 2015 through a company called DD&M Investments.
Hernandez's family members declined to speak on his behalf, but his attorney told Local 10 News that Hernandez's business was not a crime, but bad business judgment by a good-faith police officer, father, husband and military veteran.
"Restitution had been made to some of the individuals prior to his arrest, and restitution is alleged to have not been made to others," attorney Greg Gonzalez said.
Prosecutors allege Hernandez sold investment opportunities in his business of making high-interest, low-risk loans to property owners in Costa Rica. He promised 20 percent or higher returns on their investments.
Instead, prosecutors said, Hernandez used the money for his own enrichment and to pay the returns of other investors to keep the phony business going.
According to court documents, Hernandez's investors include current colleagues and retired officers from the Miami Police Department.
Federal agents arrested him Monday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, minutes before he prepared to board a flight to Costa Rica.
Gonzalez said Hernandez intended to travel to Costa Rica on business, not to flee the country ahead of arrest.
"Mr. Hernandez was attempting to resolve real estate matters that would free up money to do the right thing," he said.
Late Friday morning, he was expected to be released from federal custody after posting bond set at $400,000.
Hernandez's attorney told the court his uncle is providing the bond money, satisfying a requirement that bond is not paid from the proceeds of an illegal operation.
Hernandez will be placed on 24-hour home confinement with electronic monitoring.
As a condition of his bond release, Hernandez is forbidden to have contact with victims or witnesses in the case.
His arraignment is set for Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.