OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – Federal authorities arrested a Miami-Dade County man Friday in connection with a municipal corruption scheme involving several former Opa-Locka city officials.
Dante Starks, 55, faces a number of charges, including extortion,bribery and failing to file tax returns.
Starks was described by one former vice mayor as “the unofficial mayor of Opa-Locka" and more powerful than long time Mayor Myra Taylor with whom he has a close relationship.
Authorities said Starks, although not a Opa-Locka city employee, conspired with former Opa-Locka City Commissioner Luis Santiago, former Opa-Locka City Manager David Chiverton, and former Opa-Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris, to use their positions to obtain money from businesses in return for special treatment from the city.
“For the public to have confidence in their government, they must be certain that officials -- either elected or appointed -- will not use their position for personal gain,” said Robert Lasky, a special agent in charge at the FBI's Miami office.
Authorities said Starks used his connections with city officials to ensue he could affect the outcome of occupational licenses, code enforcement citations and fines, liens, water service and billing, zoning, and city contracting.
Authorities said Starks and others received a $10,000 bribe in 2015 from a towing company to ensure that that company would be selected to provide services to Opa-Locka.
Santiago, Harris and Chiverton have previously pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and extortion.
Vice Mayor Terrance Pinder was also implicated in the corruption scandal, but he committed suicide a day before turning himself in on bribery charges in 2016.