Former Miami officer pleads guilty to extortion
MAMI (WSVN) -- A Miami police officer faced a federal court judge and pleaded guilty to extortion charges stemming from sports betting in a Liberty City barber shop.
Former Miami Police Officer Harold James has entered a plead of guilty to extortion charges. His Defense Attorney Tony Moss said, "Mr. James pled guilty to counter-information, charging him with two counts of attempted extortion for his services of providing protection to a check cashing store in Northwest Miami-Dade. The store was known to be cashing fraudulent government checks, and Mr. James promised to provide protection to a courier." James' defense attorney adds, "He recognized the wrongfulness of his conduct. He's cooperated from the beginning."
The FBI has been investigating several Miami police officers in the last week. This particular investigation stems from a large scale FBI inquiry into a police protection ring of a sports-betting operation that was allegedly based out of a now defunct barber shop in Liberty City.
The Miami Police Department has seen several officers criminally charged recently. Earlier this week, Miami Police officer Luis Fernandez was arrested and charged with armed kidnapping and sexual battery.
Miami Police also fired Reynaldo Goyo this week for shooting and killing Travis McNeil, an unarmed man two years ago.
The McNeil killing has created a big controversy. Goyo was fired, but has no criminal charges. The State Attorneys Office did not pursue prosecution.
A news conference was held late Friday with McNeil's family. "My only question is, their findings were against the officer, what happened with the State Attorneys Office?" said McNeil's mom. "I feel like that was a great injustice done to myself and my family."
The State Attorneys Office released a statement: "A police department in order to prevail in a discipline case need only prove the violations by preponderance of the evidence. The standard of proof for the state in a prosecution is of course the highest standard in the law, beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt."
The FBI investigation regarding the protection ring continues.
There will be a sentencing hearing for Harold James in federal court in the upcoming weeks now that he has entered a guilty plead.
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