MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A third police officer in South Florida has been indicted on fraud charges involving his alleged role in a scheme involving a series of credit repair businesses.
Officer George Price, 42, and Fatima Ruiz, 45, also known as "Fatima Cabana," are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud. They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Miami-Dade police Officer Rafael Duran was arrested in connection with the case on April 2, and 15-year Miami Police Department veteran Lazaro Fernandez pleaded guilty in federal court in September to fraud for his role in the scam.
Duran has pleaded not guilty to a fraud charge related to the case that involves a total of 130 bogus police reports, according to federal court papers.
"The Miami-Dade Police Department is committed to upholding the community's trust," Director J.D. Patterson said. "Integrity is the hallmark of the department, and we will continue to work in collaboration with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who violate that trust are held accountable."
According to prosecutors, the defendants provided false police reports to people operating credit repair businesses, indicating that their customers, who were looking to clean up their credit records, had been victims of identity theft.
Prosecutors said Price and Duran would receive payments from their alleged co-conspirators for writing up the false police reports. They said Ruiz provided money to another person who acted as an intermediary between Price and the companies.
Ruiz also allegedly sent letters to credit reporting agencies indicating that some clients had been victims of identity theft. Prosecutors said she would send the false police reports to back up her claims.
"This indictment demonstrates that individuals who facilitate the sale of false police reports will be prosecuted accordingly, because their fraudulent conduct undermines the public's trust in the integrity of our law enforcement community," U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.
Price has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of his case.
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