Former terminal maintenance director at MIA pleads guilty in light fraud

Ivan Valdes, 46, faces maximum of 7 years in prison under plea deal

By Associated Press , Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor , Peter Burke - Managing Editor
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Ivan Valdes pleaded guilty to a federal theft charge.

MIAMI - The former director of Miami International Airport's Terminal Maintenance Division has pleaded guilty to a federal theft charge involving the fraudulent purchase of thousands of lighting fixtures.

A federal court document showed that Ivan Valdes, 46, pleaded guilty Wednesday and faces a maximum of seven years in prison.

According to a federal complaint, Valdes used his position from 2010 to 2015 to manipulate the bid process for light fixture vendors hoping to provide services at MIA.

With the help of several co-conspirators, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department purchased as many as 500 light fixtures at a time from the "winning vendor," and Valdes and his co-conspirators received a share of the proceeds from the orders, the complaint said.

Authorities said more than 9,000 fixtures were purchased from the company between 2010 and 2015, and Valdes and his co-conspirators collected more than $5 million in the scheme.

Four other defendants face various fraud conspiracy charges.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Valdes agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government and is subject to any forfeitures as a result of his criminal actions.

Sentencing for Valdes is set for Jan. 5 in Miami federal court.

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