Miami Beach police officer faces racketeering charges

George Navarro, Jr. charged with racketeering

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - A Miami Beach police officer was out of jail Thursday after he was arrested and charged with racketeering, among other charges.

The Miami Beach Police Department confirmed George Navarro, Jr. was arrested on Wednesday.

Navarro, who has been with the Miami Beach Police Department for about seven years, appeared in bond court on Thursday. He faces several charges, including 2 counts of racketeering, 1 count of organized fraud, 1 count of official misconduct, and 2 counts of illegal vehicle subleasing.

Navarro is accused of participating in an what is believed to be an extensive racketeering scheme that has cost insurance companies and banks hundreds of thousand dollars. Navarro's attorney said he knew about the investigation for more than a year, but said that his role in the operation was minor.

"He is alleged to be a straw buyer," said Band.

Navarro is accused of leasing a Lexus and a Toyota 4Runner from a North Miami dealership, handing the vehicle to members of the alleged crime ring, and defaulting on his loan for a payoff of $6,000. Then, according to court documents, he reported the cars stolen and allowed someone else to drive his police vehicle.

Chief Raymond A. Martinez issued a statement in a news release Thursday, saying: "This was an investigation initiated by the Miami Beach Police Department and it is part of the process of rooting out corruption in the department. I will not let the actions of one; tarnish this agency and the outstanding work that is done on an everyday basis by the men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department."

No other details about his arrest were released by the police department.

Navarro was released from jail on Thursday afternoon after posting bond.

Navarro comes from a family of law enforcement. His father, who retired as a commander, was once the lead investigator in the Gianni Versace murder case.

"Officer Navarro's dad is willing to pledge his home to guarantee his son's appearance in court," said Band. "This is an officer who led the department in arrests, officer of the month countless times, earned the medal of valor at his department," defense attorney Michael Band told the judge.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency investigating, offered no comment about the case.

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