Our (con) Man at City Hall

Contractors Won Unfair Advantage on City Projects – Thanks to a Top Official Who, While Working For You, Was Padding His Own Pockets.

Gustavo “Gus” Lopez was one of those top city employees at Miami Beach City Hall who was relatively unknown to the general public, a nameless entity in the sprawling municipal bureaucracy.

All that changed on March 30 of this year.

On that day, Lopez, 52, abruptly resigned his position of 12 years as the city’s procurement director just as then-City Manager Jorge Gonzalez was about to fire him for insubordination and “lack of confidence” in his job performance.

His resignation might have gone otherwise unnoticed if not for the commotion it sparked at City Hall once it was tendered.

Miami Beach detectives and public corruption prosecutors searched his home and computers, sniffing out official and personal emails that revealed inappropriate, frequent and extensive communications with parties interested in seeking bids or any possible competitive advantage in the city’s bidding processes, including in its efforts to redevelop the city’s convention center, an anticipated $1 billion project.

 Lopez’s resignation, and the reek of scandal that swirled from it, suddenly threw a wrench into the city’s until-then smooth and orderly attempt to find a potential developer for the Miami Beach Convention Center re-do.

City Hall was thrown into a tizzy; was the largest, most expensive project on its calendar now compromised by one of its own? Had bids been rigged? Had its chief procurement officer gone rogue? Had he crookedly gone into business for himself?

Lopez stands accused by the State Attorney’s Office of 63 felony counts, among which are racketeering, money laundering, bribery, unlawful compensation, and bid tampering, and official misconduct.

None of the current charges, however, are connected to his involvement with the convention center project. Nonetheless, they expose to sunlight the devious schemings of a top City Hall official who, for years, was enabling contractors to gain unfair advantage on city projects while pocketing enormous sums of their kickback loot – all while working for the public and hoodwinking his superiors into believing him an honest, effective public servant.

THE CITY PROGRAM

As the city’s procurement director, Lopez was the point of contact for the city’s Job Order Contracts, or JOC, program. A construction program that manages relatively small capital projects ranging from the thousands to multi-millions of dollars, JOC has seven categories of projects, including streetscapes, electrical work, painting, and roofing.

When a city department required the services of a JOC contractor for a project, Lopez would determine which contractor from a pre-approved rotational list would get the contract to do the work.

That list draws upon 31 contractors to fulfill projects among the seven categories.

The JOC’s benefit to the city? Allowing the city to have quality contractors on-call for rapid responses to construction projects, bypassing a more cumbersome and time-consuming bid process typical of larger and more expensive projects.

The JOC program normally saves the city time and money while enabling it to secure the services of a contractor at fair market price.

Projects with estimated costs of over $1 million require at least three bidders. The JOC program avails the city the discretion of requiring multiple bids, if needed.

THE BIDDING PROCEDURE

In addition to his oversight role with the JOC program, Lopez had access to Requests for Qualifications (RFQs), Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and Invitations to Bid (ITBs). The bidding protocol for these differ from that governing JOC bids. For JOC projects, the process is much less formal.

When an RFP, RFQ, or ITB is issued publicly for bidding, it comes with a deadline attached. Submitted bids are sealed and remain so until opened. Then, after deadline, all are opened at the same time. There is no chance for one bidder to learn a competitor’s bid before submitting his own.

In the JOC program, bids may be submitted via e-mail, fax, or by hand. Bids do not have to be sealed. The city does not have to strictly adhere to the deadline. Bids may be submitted after the deadline has passed. Thus, city employees with access to submitted bids – such as Lopez was – are able to see one party’s bid before receiving a competitor’s.

THE FRIEND AND BUSINESS PARTNER

In a seven-year period between May 18, 2005, and Sept. 15, 2012, Lopez and his friend and co-conspirator, Pierre Landrin, Jr., incubated, hatched, and tended their criminal enterprise; Lopez, from behind his desk in his lofty roost on City Hall’s third floor. They employed Landrin’s consulting firm as cover.

Landrin, 47, has been charged with 59 counts, including racketeering, money laundering, bribery, unlawful compensation, and bid tampering. But it was announced at the time of the duo’s arrests in October that he was cooperating with authorities, including having participated in a sting operation against Lopez that was secretly recorded by investigators.

Friends for about twenty years, dating back to the early ’90s when they worked as buyers for the Miami-Dade School Board’s purchasing department, Lopez and Landrin in 2005 planned the next phase of their relationship, a lucrative phase, evidently.

The false storefront of their scheme: Almani Marketing, Landrin’s consultancy.

The plan called for JOC contractors wanting to do business with Miami Beach to hire Landrin as a consultant. Landrin would assist a contractor with assembling a bid.

Once Lopez had selected his favored bidder as the winner, the successful contractor would fork over an agreed upon sum plus, in most cases, a percentage of whatever the city eventually paid into the project.

Landrin would deposit the contractors’ checks in the bank, then withdraw half of the proceeds in cash to pay to Lopez, satisfying their agreed-upon 50-50 split. In this hands-off manner, Lopez was confident no one would be able to trace any of the contractors’ payments to him.

They’re not going to be able to draw a line from A to B,” Lopez assured Landrin during the Sept. 14 sting operation that, unbeknown to Lopez at the time, was secretly taped by police.

These two old friends, these two men, practiced greed and arrogance, and solicited illegal and ill-gotten monies,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said of Lopez and Landrin during the news conference announcing their arrests.

There were “numerous times,” according to prosecutors, that Lopez exerted influence on or provided information and advice to Landrin about the consultants seeking city contracts.

That information and advice, however, was not made available for the benefit of others seeking contracts but who were not Almani clients.

Almani clients obtained competitive advantages to information provided by Lopez that was not available to competing companies or the public,” the criminal affidavit charges. “All but a few of the companies that hired Landrin as a consultant ended up getting contracts with the city.”

With the exception of a couple of clients, all of Almani’s success and income was tied directly to contracts its clients obtained with the city.”

THE LOOT

Investigators reviewing Landrin’s bank records discovered that he had raked in more than $600,000 from the contractors in the seven years that he ran Almani. Landrin testified that he paid Lopez approximately half of the ill-gotten proceeds.

As agreed by the pair, all payments Landrin made to Lopez were in cash so there would be no record of their transactions.

THE WIFE

Lopez married Maria Alejandra Pineda, 33, in November 2010. According to her, the two first met in 2008 at a Miami Beach charity event. She has been charged with one count each of money laundering and unlawful compensation. Prosecutors accuse her of having helped her husband stash the cash he is accused of stealing.

Before meeting her future husband, Pineda was a freelance model for infomercials and magazines. But she did not work after they were married. She told investigators that she did not receive any paycheck or salary after becoming Mrs. Gus Lopez.

Her Regions Bank accounts between 2006 and March of this year, however, tell a different story.

She deposited over $36,000 in one between 2007 and 2010. After closing that one, she opened a second in the same month with a $5,000 check from International Data Depository, for which she was a “consultant” (an affiliation that will be further explained later in this story).

That account remained open until September 2011. In the little more than a year that the second account remained open, Pineda deposited over $10,000 into it.

She opened a third account in October 2011 with a $4,000 cash deposit.

Over a five-year period from early 2007 through the end of 2011, Pineda deposited over $51,000 in the three accounts.

THE INCOME

Other than his city salary, Lopez was not allowed to receive compensation in any form for work related to his city duties. He declared on his annual, city-required Source of Income statements for the years 2006 through 2010 that he earned no income other than his salary. He filed no statements for 2011 or 2012.

Yet investigators reviewing his SunTrust bank account discovered that over $40,000 in cash was deposited in 2009, $58,000 in 2010, and over $30,000 in 2011. His city paychecks? They were Direct Deposited into his account and thus not the source of the massive cash deposits.

While executing a search warrant on the couple’s home, investigators came across Lopez and Pineda’s 2010 joint tax return in which Lopez’s $133,761 salary that year was their only declared source of income.

THE CONTRACTORS

Prosecutors allege that 16 companies seeking to do business with the city either hired Landrin as a consultant or paid him personally “in some fashion” for city-related business. Cash from every one of the 16 companies made its way from Landrin to Lopez.

Twelve of the 16 sought to win a city contract through the JOC program. Those dozen are:

Coastland Construction, Inc. (Miami)

Coastline Painting Systems, Inc. (Tamarac)

David Mancini & Sons, Inc. (DMSI) (Miami Beach)

Downrite Engineering Corp. (Miami)

Gerrits Construction (Boca Raton)

H. A. Contracting Corp. (Doral

Harbour Construction, Inc. (Miami)

Matrix Construction (Doral)

Ric-Man Construction, Inc. (Miami)

Ric-Man International, Inc. (Miami Beach)

Trans Florida Development (Miami)

Unitech Builders, Corp. (Miami)

Another four companies hired Landrin as a consultant and, according to prosecutors, had compensation agreements with him but were not in the JOC program. They are:

Blissberry LLC (Miami Beach)

Neighborhood Maintenance (Miami)

RAS III Inc. (Miami)

Security Alliance (Doral)

TAINTED PROJECT No. 1:

35th STREET RESTROOMS AND STREET END IMPROVEMENTS

August 2009: The city requested cost proposals from JOC contractors BDI Construction, Harbour Construction, and Matrix Construction for work to be done at the 35th Street restroom facilities. The bids were as follows:

BDI: $455,303

Harbour: $405,055

Matrix: $413,643

Harbour won the contract.

David Tobin, a Harbour employee, told investigators that whenever the city requested cost proposals from Harbour and its competitors, Landrin would supply the firm with information about its competitors’ bids. This was, Tobin testified, so that Harbour could turn in a lower bid.

Alexander Guy Lesseur, Harbour’s JOC project manager, testified that for the restroom project, he waited to submit the firm’s cost proposal until he got the competitors’ figures from Tobin.

Both Tobin and Lesseur said this arrangement gave Harbour a “significant advantage” in a bid process that favored the lowest bidder.

Landrin admitted that Lopez would contact him with the competitors’ figures; Landrin would then relay those to Harbour.

The two chose to favor Harbour, according to Landrin, because of the lucrative 3% compensation agreement Landrin struck with the firm, the highest percentage of any JOC contractor with which the pair dealt.

For this project, the city paid over $400,000 to Harbour. A 3% kickback translated into a $12,000 check to Landrin’s consultancy. Landrin deposited the check, then withdrew half the amount – $6,000 – and delivered it to Lopez over multiple occasions.

TAINTED PROJECT No. 2:

THE MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDENS

March 2011: The city requested cost proposals from BDI, Gerrits Construction, and Harbour for work to be done at the Botanical Gardens. The bids were as follows:

BDI: $1,251,816

Gerrits: (no bid)

Harbour: $1,355,892

Within hours after the bids were due, Lopez emailed his accomplice:

LOPEZ: “Why didn’t they wait?”

LANDRIN (in response): “Cuz I could not get any guidance from you while you were in your workshop.”

Landrin clarified for investigators that Lopez was asking why Harbour did not wait to submit its bid until after he had a chance to feed it BDI’s figure. The plan, according to Landrin, was for Lopez to feed BDI’s figure to Landrin, who would then relay it to Harbour so that the firm could beat BDI’s bid.

Though BDI was the lowest bidder, the firm was not automatically rewarded the contract due to differences in the two competing firms’ proposals.

Lopez then recommended that both contractors be interviewed by a committee – which he served on – to determine the winner.

Tobin and Lesseur said that Lopez had a plan all worked out in advance to help Harbour. According to them, BDI would be interviewed first.

Because he was on the committee, Lopez would relay to Landrin information about BDI’s presentation; Landrin would, in turn, relay it to Harbour. Harbour would thus be able to tweak its presentation by the time of its interview.

After receiving the BDI information, Lesseur prepared documents to make changes to his firm’s proposal, but Harbour ultimately did not make any changes. Nevertheless, Harbour won the bid.

For this project, the city paid over $1.4 million to Harbour. A 3% kickback translated into a $44,000-plus check to Landrin, paid out between July 2011 and May 2012. As was their routine, Landrin deposited the check, then withdrew half the amount in cash as Lopez’s share.

TAINTED PROJECT No. 3:

DADE BLVD. BIKE PATH AND SEAWALL RESTORATION

September 2010: The city requested cost proposals from Envirowaste, Harbour, and Ric-Man Construction.

Submit six separate cost proposals for this project, Landrin instructed Harbour.

In November 2010, Lesseur submitted the six separate proposals to Lopez by email. Each proposal contained a different total. (Investigators were able to retrieve the separate emails from Lopez’s City Hall email account.)

The emails were sent to Lopez within a 45-minute period. Once Lopez had gotten the bids of the other two firms, he picked the bid from Harbour that would establish it as the lowest bidder.

Harbour was awarded the project.

According to the affidavit, no other contractors were similarly permitted to submit multiple bids or given access to competitors’ bids prior to submitting their own.

THE FAKED LETTER OF CREDIT

Contractors in the JOC program are required to have either a performance bond or submit a letter of credit (LOC). The bond or LOC serves as security for the city in the event a contractor fails to finish a project, forcing the city to hire another company to complete it.

For a bond, a contractor must pay a bonding company a percentage of the bond’s total cost. The alternative to paying a bonding company fee would be to supply an LOC.

In order to use an LOC instead of a bond, however, the contractor must have enough assets to cover the project’s entire cost.

In a December 2010 email from city procurement coordinator Theo Carrasco to Lesseur, Carrasco said the city required an additional bond for the Dade Blvd. bike path and seawall restoration project: the project exceeded $3 million; Harbour’s bond was for only $1 million.

In order to comply, Harbour would have to pay a bonding company $60,000 to secure a bond.

Lopez told Landrin they could make more money by allowing Harbour to supply a fraudulent LOC satisfying the additional bond requirement demanded by the city. The fly in the ointment? The firm did not qualify for an LOC because it lacked the assets to cover the project’s cost.

Landrin agreed to help create and submit a fake LOC. Price: $30,000.

He emailed the finished document to Tobin, who signed it. Landrin then delivered it to his confederate at City Hall who said he intended to destroy it.

Investigators were unable to track down the LOC. The city has no LOC on file for Harbour.

The same day he got Carrasco’s email, Lesseur replied to the procurement department official that Harbour would indeed provide an LOC to cover the project. Three days later, Harbour paid Landrin the $30,000 fee to produce the fake document.

And for merely suggesting the idea, Lopez pocketed an easy $15,000.

THE UNPAID CONSULTANT

International Data Depository is contracted by the city to provide off-site records management. IDD’s original contract began in 2004.

In April 2010, Lopez prepared a memo to his superiors, then-Manager Gonzalez and Chief Financial Officer Patricia Walker, in which he laid out two options for the city’s “records management solution.”

One recommendation: continue doing business with IDD by “piggybacking” on a state Department of Children and Families contract.

The other recommendation: the city could initiate a new RFP and solicit bids from IDD and other competitors.

Ultimately, IDD was awarded a new contract beginning in July 2010 and running to June 2014.
In an Aug. 5, 2010 breakfast meeting with IDD CEO Jorge Bohorquez, Lopez discussed some consultants that he had referred to IDD. There was one consultant, however, who had not been paid, Lopez reported.

Bohorquez, according to the affidavit, expressed “discontent” that someone had done work for his company of whom he was not aware.

Lopez told him that Pineda was the unpaid consultant and that she was owed $5,000.

Bohorquez told investigators that he did not question Lopez’s assertion “because [Lopez] was a public official who had referred the work to [IDD] originally.” He added that he did not know that Pineda is, in fact, Lopez’s wife, nor that the two had a romantic relationship at the time. (Lopez and Pineda married three months later.)

The day after the breakfast, IDD issued a check to Pineda. She deposited the check into a newly-opened account on Aug. 9, 2010, then made out a $4,000 check to her husband that day which he deposited into his bank account.

THE STING OPERATION

 Eventually, Landrin opted to cooperate with investigators. He agreed to set up a meeting with his associate.

Sitting in Landrin’s car on Sept. 14, the two talked while detectives secretly videotaped and monitored their encounter.

LANDRIN: “We got something from Ric-Man Construction…not [Ric-Man] International…There was two checks. I guess two came in totaling $6,900. It was good.”

Landrin handed his friend an envelope containing $3,450 provided to him by investigators.

LANDRIN: “That’s for you to replenish your Puerto Rico fund.”

Later in their conversation, the discussion turned to the cash. Lopez reminded his partner of their protocol regarding tranactions:

LOPEZ: “No matching…and never the same day…Same thing with you and I…They’re not going to be able to prove that connection…this amount came in…a week later he deposited this amount…It’s never going to show up like that.”

After the two emerged from a restaurant, Lopez got into his vehicle and drove away. Police tailing Lopez initiated a traffic stop, pulling him over for an expired tag. They retrieved the remaining $3,300 of the money from the envelope.

THE AFTERMATH

A day after the Oct. 22 arrests of Lopez, Landrin, and Pineda, Interim City Manager Kathie Brooks, in a letter to the mayor and commissioners, said that she and the city attorney’s office would be evaluating any “potential implications” that the case might have on the JOC program. She said she would be seeking advice on what remedies the city could take regarding any current contracts in which any of the contractors named in the case might be involved.

Brooks said she had “also instructed staff to immediately cease the issuance of any new purchase orders” through the JOC program. She also announced an “in-depth” review of procurement procedures, one to involve the participation of procurement specialists from outside the city, in order to identify any areas for improvement.

At its Nov. 14 meeting, the City Commission ordered sent to committee an ordinance that would strengthen its powers to suspend or debar contractors who engage in unethical dealings regardless of whether such dealings result in criminal charges.

Alex Denis took over as the city’s new procurement chief Nov. 13.

Lopez, who remains in jail unable to post a $780,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty, as have his two co-defendants. His, Landrin’s, and Pineda’s next court hearings in the case are scheduled for January.

16 Contractors

BLISSBERRY LLC

  • 3 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
  • Kim Pham, manager
  • paid Landrin an initial $2,500 fee
  • paid another $2,500 once it was awarded a city contract

THE CRIME: Blissberry, a frozen yogurt bar, sought to operate a concessions business at South Pointe Park. Lopez referred or introduced Landrin to owner Pham in 2010. Landrin agreed to assist Pham in bidding for a city contract for the aforementioned fees.

Pham wrote a check to Landrin for the initial $2,500 in July 2010. Landrin deposited the check into his account and subsequently withdrew half of the money for Lopez.

The company was successful in winning its bid only because the other bidder was deemed non-responsive for failing to meet the minimum requirements. Pham issued another check to Landrin which he deposited, paying out half, in cash, to Lopez.

COASTLAND CONSTRUCTION, INC.

  • 4661 SW 71 Ave., Miami
  • Alejandro Rodriguez, director
  • paid Landrin an initial $93,000 fee
  • made a $12,000 payout to Gerrits Construction

THE CRIME: Gerrits was awarded a JOC contract in July 2009. Months later, with no work given to it by the city, the company sought to have its contract reassigned to another contractor.

Lopez referred Coastland to Landrin; Coastland told Landrin that it would be willing to spend $105,000 to obtain the Gerrits contract. Gerrits agreed to accept $12,000 for its contract.

In an Aug. 19, 2011, email (“Subject: JOC Contract Assignment”) from his personal email account, Lopez provided Landrin what prosecutors believe appears to be a sample letter for Coastland to submit to Lopez regarding the JOC reassignment.

Five days later, David Gerrits emailed Lopez and Theo Carrasco, a Lopez subordinate in the city’s procurement office. Attached to the email was the same letter that Lopez sent to Landrin on Aug. 19, with David Gerrits’ name and phone number included at the end.

On Oct. 19, 2011, the City Commission okayed the contract reassignment from Gerrits to Coastland. The next day, Coastland wired $105,000 to Landrin. Landrin wrote a $12,000 check to David Gerrits the same day.

THE DOUBLE-CROSS: Landrin, unhappy with having been “squeezed” by his accomplice for more than 50% of the kickback on the Unitech/DMSI assignment (see: Unitech Builders), under reported the amount Gerrits paid him. Instead of telling Lopez that it was $105,000, Landrin reported receiving $75,000 so that Lopez would believe that the pair had only $30,000 to split between them.

Lopez “squeezed” him for $25,000 of that, which Landrin paid to him in cash. Bank records show that the day after the wire transfer from Coastland, Landrin cashed two checks totaling $23,000.

 

COASTLINE PAINTING SYSTEMS, INC.

  • 9810 South Grand Duke Cir., Tamarac
  • John Squillace, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $3,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Landrin was referred or introduced to Squillace by Matrix Construction’s Carlos Ardavin in 2009. Landrin agreed to help Squillace in preparing a JOC bid for the aforementioned fees.

Coastline made a check out for its initial fee in March 2009, which Landrin deposited, half of which he later withdrew in cash and paid out to Lopez.

The company’s bid was one of the winners, so it issued another check in July 2009, which Landrin deposited and then paid Lopez half of.

In all, Coastline, according to prosecutors, paid Landrin over $16,000.

 

DAVID MANCINI & SONS, INC. (DMSI)

  • Corporate office: Pompano Beach
  • Satellite office: 1247 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
  • David Mancini, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $60,000 fee
  • made a $40,000 payout to Unitech Builders
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Mancini, who left the helm of Ric-Man International and formed DMSI in October 2010, paid Landrin over $30,000 between June 2011 and June 2012 as part of the aforementioned 1% kickback agreement. Landrin deposited the checks, then withdrew half of the money for Lopez.

DOWNRITE ENGINEERING CORP.

  • 14241 SW 143 Ct., Miami
  • Samuel LoBue, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $3,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Matrix’s Carlos Ardavin referred or introduced Landrin to LoBue in 2009. Landrin agreed to assist LoBue in bidding for a JOC for the aforementioned fees.

Downrite supplied a check to Landrin for the initial fee in April 2009.

The company was the winning bidder for the JOC but, due to other unexplained issues, did not sign a contract with the city. Therefore, no additional money was paid to Landrin.

 

GERRITS CONSTRUCTION

  • 8177 Glades Rd., Boca Raton
  • David Gerrits, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $7,500 fee
  • paid another $7,500 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Landrin and Gerrits, who, according to the affidavit, have known each other for 25 years, discussed the company’s bid for a JOC under the aforementioned fee arrangement. In July 2009, the company issued a check to Landrin for the initial fee.

Gerrits was a winning bidder, so, in August 2009, the company issued another $7,500 check to Landrin.

Landrin paid out in cash half of both checks’ amounts to Lopez.

 

H. A. CONTRACTING CORP.

  • 9500 NW 12 St., Doral
  • Henry Angelo, III, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $5,000 fee
  • paid another $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC

THE CRIME: Lopez referred or introduced Landrin to Angelo in 2009. Landrin agreed to help Angelo with his company’s bid for a JOC for the aforementioned fee arrangement.

H. A. Contracting wrote a check to Landrin for the initial fee in March 2009, then wrote another check in August 2009 after winning its JOC.

 

HARBOUR CONSTRUCTION, INC.

  • 6300 NE 4 Ct., Miami
  • Ronald Tobin, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $7,500 fee
  • paid another $7,500 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 3% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

MATRIX CONSTRUCTION

  • 8000 NW 31 St., Doral
  • Carlos Ardavin, CEO
  • paid Landrin an initial $3,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC

THE CRIME: Lopez referred or introduced Landrin to Ardavin in 2009. Landrin agreed to assist Ardavin in Matrix’s bid for a JOC under the aforementioned arrangement.

Matrix wrote a check for the initial fee in March 2009. After the company emerged as a bid winner, it made out another check, for $5,000, in July 2009.

Landrin paid Lopez half of the total amount of the two deposited checks.

 

NEIGHBORHOOD MAINTENANCE, INC.

  • 15897 SW 141 St., Miami
  • Guimell Doreste, president
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 5% of all payments received from city under company’s contract

THE CRIME: Lopez referred the company to Landrin. NM, Lopez said, did not meet the requirements for a particular landscaping contract which the company, in 2005, was interested in bidding on. But Lopez told his friend that he should contact NM and offer to assist them in exchange for a fee.

Submit a letter to the city requesting the requirements be lowered so that NM could compete for the contract, Lopez advised Landrin to tell the firm.

Landrin and Doreste agreed upon an arrangement by which, in exchange for help in getting the requirements changed, Landrin would be paid 5% of any money NM made if it was awarded the city contract.

The requirements were changed and NM won the landscaping contract.

Bank records show that between 2005 and 2010 – the length of the original contract plus 2 one-year extensions – NM paid Landrin more than $50,000 in kickbacks. Between October 2009 and October 2010, more than $20,000 alone was paid to and deposited by Landrin.

Landrin deposited the money into both his Almani and personal accounts, then withdrew cash from his accounts and paid Lopez half.

 

RAS III INC.

  • 6000 SW 135 Terr., Miami
  • Richard Shellow, president
  • kicked back to Landrin $850 to $1,000 per month from payments received from city on company’s contract

THE CRIME: Landrin met Shellow through Lopez; the three have been friends, Landrin testified, for over 15 years.

In 2006, Lopez asked Landrin if he knew anyone who could bid for a waterway maintenance contract.

Landrin contacted Shellow, even though RAS is a telecommunications firm with no experience in marine cleanup. Shellow proposed teaming up with John Tellam of Tow Tell Marine Services (3301 Rickenbacker Cswy, Key Biscayne), doing business as H2O Tow. Tellam and Shellow joined to submit a bid.

H2O was awarded the city contract in December 2006. Bank records show that H2O paid Landrin more than $43,000 from 2006 to 2012.

RAS paid Landrin more than $1,200 from 2008 to 2012.

Landrin paid Lopez half of the proceeds he received and deposited.

 

RIC-MAN CONSTRUCTION, INC.

  • Corporate HQ: Deerfield Beach
  • Local office: 7005 NW 41st St., Miami
  • Daniel Mancini, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $5,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,500 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: DMSI’s David Mancini introduced Ric-Man’s Daniel Mancini to Landrin. Landrin and Daniel Mancini agreed that in exchange for Landrin’s assistance in Ric-Man’s bid for a streetscapes JOC, Ric-Man would pay the aforementioned fees.

In October 2010, Ric-Man wrote a check for $5,000 to Landrin. Landrin deposited the check, then withdrew half in cash and paid it to Lopez.

Ric-Man was one of the winning bidders. In November 2010, the company wrote another check, for $5,500, to Landrin. Landrin withdrew half and paid Lopez.

It was during a Sept. 14, 2012, meeting inside Landrin’s car, one recorded by police surveillance, that Lopez accepted a $3,450 payout from Landrin. The amount was half of the proceeds Ric-Man paid Landrin for its city contract.

 

RIC-MAN INTERNATIONAL, INC.

  • Corporate office: Pompano Beach
  • Satellite office: 220 71 St., Miami Beach
  • Rene Castillo, president
  • paid Landrin an initial $3,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 1% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Lopez referred or introduced Landrin to David Mancini when Mancini was still a principal of Ric-Man International. Landrin agreed to help Ric-Man International with filing a bid for a JOC for the aforementioned fees.

Ric-Man International won its bid and Mancini signed the city contract on Aug. 26, 2009. Between Aug. 12, 2009 and August of the following year, checks for more than $80,000 were made out to Landrin by Ric-Man International. Half of this eventually made its way to Lopez.

Ric-Man International’s website boasts a 2006 letter to the firm from then-Miami Beach capital improvement projects director Jorge Chartrand. In it, Chartrand lauds Ric-Man International’s work on a $16 million streetscape reconstruction project on Washington Ave. The letter includes this paragraph:

In these efforts and in the overall project Ric-Man has performed very well. The city would not hesitate to use them again in any future projects and we highly recommend them.”

 

SECURITY ALLIANCE

  • 8323 NW 12 St., Doral
  • David Ramirez, CEO
  • William Murphy, vice president
  • kicked back to Landrin $2,000 a month from payments received from city on company’s contract

THE CRIME: Security Alliance was awarded a three-year contract in April 2007 to provide unarmed security guard services to the city. The City Commission in March 2011 extended the company’s contract to April 2012. The Commission authorized a new RFP be issued in October 2011, six months before the contract’s end.

Landrin and Security Alliance’s Murphy, who had known each other for 25 years, agreed that Landrin would assist the company in its response to the RFP for a $2,000 per month fee.

From September 2011 to June 2012, the firm made out 11 checks – $2,000 apiece – to Landrin. Landrin deposited the checks into his Almani account, then withdrew half of the $22,000 and paid it to Lopez.

 

TRANS FLORIDA DEVELOPMENT

  • 13960 SW 144 Avenue Rd., Miami
  • Aquilino Melo, president
  • paid Landrin in initial $3,000 fee
  • paid an additional $5,000 once it was awarded the JOC
  • paid a $5,000 fee for committee ranking error
  • agreed to kick back to Landrin 2% of all payments received from city under company’s JOC

THE CRIME: Lopez referred or introduced Landrin to Trans Florida in 2010. Landrin and Trans Florida project manager Gilbert Caamano agreed that Landrin would assist the firm with its bid for a streetscapes JOC. Trans Florida wrote a July 2010 check to Landrin for $3,000.

Trans Florida was awarded its city contract in November 2010. A day later, the company wrote another check, this one for $5,000, the amount the company and Landrin agreed upon if the company’s bid was successful. Landrin deposited this check into his Almani account, then withdrew half the amount for Lopez.

A SECOND CRIME: Trans Florida bid on two non-JOC related ITBs in 2010 – South Pointe Phase III, IV, V and Star Island right-of-way.

As part of the bid process, the firm and its competitors were interviewed by technical review panels. The panels would then rank the bidders. Their rankings would serve as a recommendation to City Hall.

Lopez informed Landrin that a mistake had been made: Trans Florida was erroneously ranked lower than it should have been. Landrin approached the firm to offer to help it improve its ranking, based on inside information provided by Lopez. The fee? $5,000 if the bid was successful.

A City Commission memo pertaining to the South Pointe project shows that the panels ranked Trans Florida second despite that it was the lowest bidder. A second round of interviews was held by the city administration. Result: Trans Florida had the winning bid.

Trans Florida rewarded Landrin with a check, it was deposited, and Landrin withdrew $2,500 in cash as Lopez’s share of the prize.

 

UNITECH BUILDERS, CORP.

  • 16115 SW 117 Ave., Miami
  • Anthony Gomez, president
  • made no fee agreement

THE CRIME: Unitech was awarded a JOC contract in July 2009. A year later, while Unitech still had the contract, DMSI hired Landrin to negotiate a reassignment of the contract to it.

According to his testimony provided to investigators, DMSI’s David Mancini told Landrin he was willing to pay $100,000 for the Unitech contract. Landrin then negotiated an agreement in which Unitech would turn over its JOC contract to DMSI for $40,000. DMSI paid $5,000 up front to Landrin, with the balance to be paid upon the City Commission’s approval of the contract reassignment.

The Unitech contract was awarded to DMSI by the City Commission on Dec. 8, 2010. DMSI paid out the remaining $95,000 to Landrin, he then paid $40,000 of it to Unitech, leaving $60,000 to be split between himself and Lopez.

Though their typical agreement called for a 50-50 split, Lopez kept $40,000 and left Landrin with $20,000, taking more than half because, as Landrin told investigators, Lopez claimed he had done most of the work in securing the rearrangement of the contract.

Landrin paid the entire $40,000 to Lopez in cash. Bank records of his Almani account show a cash withdrawal of $40,010 on Dec. 16.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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