Jay Weaver-Tue, December 29, 2020, 3:55 PM EST
It’s a law enforcement crime that happens at a desktop computer, not out on the street with a badge.
The latest perpetrator is Marquies McGirt, a former public service aide for the Miami-Dade Police Department. He faces a few years in prison at his sentencing in February after pleading guilty in federal court to selling a couple of dozen fabricated incident reports of identity theft to help people clean up their poor credit ratings.
Earlier this month, McGirt, 32, who provided assistance to cops in the north side of the county, admitted that he took thousands of dollars in bribes from a credit-repair business that would exploit the falsified information to show that its customers were “victims” of purported stolen identities used to run up debts on accounts.
Between 2015 and 2017, McGirt filled out 24 “offense incident reports” saying an alleged victim on a certain date reported that someone “gained access to his personal information and opened up several unauthorized accounts,’‘ according to a factual statement filed with his plea agreement.
“In return for creating the OIRs, McGirt would receive bribes from the co-conspirator in the form of cash and lifetime free credit monitoring, as well as discounted credit repair services for McGirt’s family members and friends,” according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI.
An unnamed co-conspirator who ran the credit-repair business paid bribes to McGirt and then sent his fake police reports to credit-reporting agencies such such Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to bolster claims that they had been victims of identity theft to explain their unpaid bills, according to authorities.
McGirt has agreed to cooperate in the feds’ ongoing investigation, according to his plea agreement signed by defense attorney Andrew Rier and prosecutor Michael Davis.
Such credit-repair schemes fueled by bribes paid to local police have been a persistent problem in Miami-Dade.
In 2015, a former Miami-Dade cop pleaded guilty to fraud after he wrote 159 police reports claiming people with bad credit histories were victims of identity theft. Ex-officer George Price fabricated the reports and sold them so they could be used to remove blemishes from the purported victims’ credit histories.
Price, who had joined the force in 1999, resigned after his conviction. In the end, Price didn’t make much for exploiting his badge: $7,000. He had to return the bribery payments he had received in 2010-11.
Price was sentenced to four years in prison, which was reduced to two years after he cooperated with authorities and testified that he was part of a ring.
Through an intermediary, he was working for Vanessa and Mario Perez, a Miami-Dade couple who also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to about five years before their terms were reduced for cooperating with the feds. They made more than $322,000 by clearing up the lousy credit reports of people with bad bill-paying histories, according to court records.
Price and at least three other police officers and an unnamed person wrote 215 falsified police reports for $200 to $250 a pop that the couple used to claim their customers were victims of identity theft — when they were not, court records show.
Vanessa Perez’s “intermediary” in dealing with Price was Mitchell Page, one of her customers and a friend of the officer’s. In 2014, Page pleaded guilty for his role and was sentenced to almost four years. A statement filed with his plea agreement noted that Page “would deliver a portion” of each bribe payment to Price and “keep the remainder for himself.”
Also charged with Price: fellow Miami-Dade police officer Rafael Duran, who was convicted at trial and sentenced to two and a half years.