Eric Berry of Miramar, Florida who served as the assistant park superintendent for 15 years, was arrested on nine corruption charges last Thursday, according to reports. The 42-year-old bailed himself out of jail on an undisclosed bail bond and is awaiting trial. Berry resigned from his post with the city of Miramar in 2010, while he was under investigation.
Officials declined to mention whether more arrests will be made in regards to the corruption charges.
Berry’s arrest affidavit states that Berry is being accused of accepting monetary and drug compensation from private paint and pressure-washing company owners in exchange for using his standing with the city of Miramar to land them contracts with the city. He reportedly accomplished this by manipulating the bidding process that the city of Miramar requires for purchases over $1,000. While all monetary compensation was reportedly received in cash form, it is unclear what kind of drugs Berry accepted as compensation for the jobs.
Investigators report that Berry already confessed to the crimes, which allegedly occurred from 2004 to 2008. Berry allegedly facilitated the manipulation by using whiteout to change bid amounts from other companies, submitting bids from other companies that did not exist, and awarded jobs to companies of owners that paid him before accepting outside quotes. Berry reportedly made the confession with his criminal defense attorney present in 2010, eight days before resigning from his post.
The arrest report also states that some of the company owners confessed to giving cash to Berry in exchange for his help securing jobs, though the amounts were not disclosed, nor was whether Berry solicited the cash or the companies offered it. One such painting company reportedly received approximately $121,350 in compensation after securing a contract thanks to Berry. A Miramar Police Department spokesperson declined to comment on the case, citing the fact that the investigation is still progressing. This suggests than more officials may be arrested in connection to the crimes.
The investigation has already been active for two years. It started when Roberto Cobian, the owner of a painting company called Try Us Painting, went to the Miramar Police Department saying that Berry was accepting bribes from company owners. A subsequent audit of Try Us Painting reportedly revealed that the company had received $19,900 for four rust proofing and pressure cleaning projects for the city, all of which were awarded to the company by Berry. Investigators say that Berry changed estimates from other companies and bid as a fake company in order to secure the jobs for Cobian.
Cobian told investigators that in addition to the city projects, Berry had him make a concrete patio and complete landscaping projects at Berry’s private residence. According to Cobian, Berry told Cobian that the projects were done with extra funds from the city projects, so Berry did not owe anything. Cobian apparently completed the projects free of charge for Berry, who he had met in 2007.