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Florida Jail Workers Busted in Bribery Investigation

On Dec. 4, 1998, fourteen Miami-Dade County jail employees were indicted on state bribery charges and federal marijuana and cocaine trafficking conspiracy charges. Five other jail workers were suspended pending the outcome of internal investigations.

The indictments followed a year-long probe by Miami-Dade police and the FBI that uncovered rampant corruption among jail personnel. While the investigation focused on the Dade Co. Jail and the Turner Guilford-Knight Correctional Center, misconduct was found at all four of the county's lockups. The probe was kept secret from the jail's internal affairs office and from jail director Donald Manning, who resigned Oct. 29, 1998 amid allegations of mismanagement.

The investigation, which included undercover agents, audio and video surveillance, jailhouse snitches and wiretaps, centered on Eduardo Manzano, an incarcerated drug dealer who reportedly paid jail employees to help him operate his illicit enterprise from behind bars. Manzano allegedly was given access to jail office phones and was able to order retaliatory shootings against rival drug dealers from his cell.

Other jail workers were cited for smuggling contraband including cigarettes, food items, cellular phones and drugs in exchange for cash, jewelry, car repairs, sports equipment, free hotel stays and other amenities.

"It has been a long time coming," County Manager Merrett Stierheim said of the corruption probe. Although the widespread malfeasance was an indication of insufficient oversight by jail supervisors, no high-ranking jail officials were indicted.

Charged as a result of the investigation were jail employees Richard Obregon, Natalio Figueroa, Geraldo Guerra, Thomas Fisher, Orlando Perez, Rodolfo Gil, Williston Robbins, Steven James, Diego Fernandez, Luis Falcon, Manuel Crego, Eduardo Alvarez, Leonard Brady Jr. and Michelle Adderley. Also indicted were 29 other people, including jail detainees and their outside associates.

Florida Times Union, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun-Sentinel

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