Miami-Dade cop had eye on Lamborghini, but instead sold stolen Ford pickups

By David Ovalle and Charles Rabin

June 24, 2019 04:43 PM, Updated June 24, 2019 07:05 PM

The first time undercover cops tried to snare a Miami-Dade police officer named Orestes Verdura, detectives said he was working on a scheme to steal and then sell a Lamborghini owned by a friend. But that deal fell apart.

Then, Miami-Dade prosecutors say, an informant tipped police off to a plan to peddle some less exotic vehicles, two Ford F-250s that had recently been stolen in Palm Beach County. Veruda made that deal, police say, showing up in uniform in a Miami-Dade police car to accept the marked money.

On Monday, the six-year veteran was charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property and single counts of organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud.

Also arrested and facing the same charges is a 38-year-old associate of Verdura’s named Ariel Sanchez. Bond for both men was set at $110,000.

“Officer Verdura betrayed everything and everyone he pledged to honor when he began engaging in his alleged criminal activities,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in a statement.

Steadman Stahl, president of the Police Benevolent Association that represents county cops, said Verdura hadn’t reached out to the union for representation. It was unknown Monday if Verdura had hired an attorney

The investigation was spearheaded by Miami-Dade Police’s Professional Complicance Bureau and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

According to the arrest warrant issued for Verdura, his plan began to unravel on April 11 when an informant arrested on marijuana charges and looking to get his sentence reduced told police that Verdura was involved in stolen property, insurance fraud and grand theft auto.

Police said the two met on April 16 and Verdura was recorded asking the informant if he could “move” stolen trucks valued at over $50,000, for as little as $8,000. After a series of phone calls between Verdura and the informant, it was agreed that a white Ford F-250 would be dropped off in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Southwest Miami-Dade. Cops watched as Verdura delivered the truck. He was paid $10,000 in marked bills a few hours later at a Miami Lakes restaurant named El Novillo.

According to Verdura’s arrest warrant, the two communicated in similar fashion about a white F-250, which was dropped off at a Hialeah Gardens Home Depot on May 29, also as police watched. The informant paid Verdura another $10,000 on June 4, according to his arrest warrant, at the same Miami Lakes restaurant.

After that transaction, Verdura was immediately taken into custody.

“Today’s arrest, although extremely disappointing, in no way represents the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our department,” said Miami-Dade Deputy Police Director Freddy Ramirez.