MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A current employee and a former employee of the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department have been charged in connection with an insider purchasing scam that cost the county more than $100,000, the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office announced Monday.
According to prosecutors, Michael Garateix and Ralph Granja used their positions in the Animal Services Purchasing Department to enable vendors to receive payment for items that were ordered but not delivered.
They both profited from the scheme, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, the Miami-Dade Police Department was notified after ASD personnel discovered suspicious expenditures during a budgetary review.
Prosecutors said a review of the department’s inventory revealed that some products ordered had not been delivered and some section supervisors were approving certain items outside the scope of their responsibility.
Garateix and Granja are charged with the following:
• 1 count - Official misconduct (Third-degree felony)
• 1 count - Unlawful compensation (Third-degree felony)
• 1 count - Organized scheme to defraud $50,000 (First-degree felony)
• 1 count - Grand theft over $100,000 (First-degree felony)
"The partnership between my prosecutors, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the Miami-Dade Finance Department uncovered this employee theft case," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Monday in a statement. "No public employee should feel that they can get away with a theft by a few clicks of a computer keyboard. No theft will ever or can ever be tolerated."
Garateix is a 12-year Miami-Dade County employee currently working as the procurement supervisor for the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department.
Granja is a former five-year Miami-Dade County employee who worked as a buyer until Sept. 26, 2018, for the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department.
"This incident is a clear betrayal of the public's trust. It is particularly disappointing when public employees use their position for personal financial gain. This serves as a reminder that the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office will thoroughly investigate public corruption allegations in the pursuit of justice," Freddy Ramirez, deputy director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Garateix is in custody, while Granja remains at large.