The charging of the Hialeah Police officers was announced Wednesday by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez. Per a news release, the officers have been identified as Armando Perez and Ernesto Arias-Martinez. Perez had been with the Hialeah Police Department for five years, while Arias-Martinez was on the force for less than four years.
After one alleged victim officially received 18 citations in February of last year, followed by six additional citations just one day later, an audit was conducted into both officers’ activities spanning from January 2020 to June 2020. The investigation resulted in the uncovering of eight more alleged victims who had also received citations in writing.
All told, according to a report on the officers’ charges from the Tampa Bay Times’ David Ovalle, dozens of fake tickets were sent to at least nine people in 2020. Multiple alleged victims, per that report, had never been pulled over by police. In several cases, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the officers allegedly used fake names in combination with information from targeted drivers.
Perez has been charged with five counts of official misconduct and five counts of falsifying public records, while Arias-Martinez is facing four each of the same charges.
“Honesty and integrity must always be central values of every effective police agency,” Rundle said in a press release on Wednesday. “When police officers create false traffic tickets, as we are alleging happened here, they damage the reputation of their own department and the reputations of every police officer working to serve our Miami-Dade community. In the case of Hialeah Officers Perez and Arias-Martinez, we are alleging that their actions were not errors or mistakes, but crimes. The Hialeah Police Department deserves credit for working diligently to uncover and correct the actions of these two officers.”
As of Wednesday, per the Times, both officers were jailed and expected to post bond.