MIAMI - Former Opa-locka city manager David Chiverton surrendered to federal authorities Monday, as he made his first appearance in court on corruption charges.
Chiverton, 51, pleaded not guilty to extortion and bribery charges and requested a trial by jury.
"He was caught up in factors he couldn't control," Chiverton's attorney, David Garvin, told reporters outside the courthouse.
Chiverton is accused of using his position to extort thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from businesses and individuals in exchange for "taking official actions to assist and benefit those businesses and individuals in their dealing with the city of Opa-locka," a statement from U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.
Prosecutors said Chiverton and another public official would direct former Public Works assistant director Gregory Harris to take actions, such as restoring water service to businesses whose owners had paid them bribes.
"There is a lot of discretionary matters, and there were a lot of issues that involved people higher up than David who had control over David's career," Garvin said. "When the facts are known you will see that he was under tremendous pressure from the establishment that was there, the system that was there and, even though he tried to get out of the way, he just couldn't."
Chiverton submitted his resignation last month, which was effective Aug. 1.
He posted $50,000 surety bond Monday for his release.
"I think ultimately David is going to accept responsibility for his conduct, but at the same time he is going to do the right thing," Garvin said.
The FBI probe into city officials came to light in March when federal agents executed a search warrant at the Opa-locka Municipal Complex at 780 Fisherman St.
Gov. Rick Scott has since declared a financial emergency in Opa-locka, and issued an order last month that gives his office control over the city's finances.
If convicted, Chiverton faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
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