Imagine receiving a call from an eager attorney wanting to know if you need help squirming out of your latest traffic violation. The one you can’t recall receiving. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you were even pulled over.
If you’ve ever had the ‘pray to Jesus” experience of driving around Hialeah, Florida, you might not need to imagine an attorney intruding in your privacy. Lawyers review traffic records to determine who to chase down at hospitals, who got slapped with a DUI, and anything other violations they can spot to help ring their registers, and they make contact ASAP before other competitive snakes get to the goldmine first.
This is exactly how two motorcycle cops in Hialeah got busted for issuing bogus traffic tickets. When local attornies started contacting people who had no knowledge of what they were even talking about, the smell of dead fish began to permeate their collective nostrils.
Imagine being this poor guy. Reicel Sosa Polo, a resident of Hialeah, received a call from an overly eager and heavily panting young lawyer to inform him of how he could help him out with his unpaid traffic violations. All 10 of them. Who gets 10 tickets in one day? If you do we want to hear from you.
After recapturing his breath, Sosa told the attorney that he had never even once been pulled over. He’s a careful driver with a spotless record.
He did however recall driving past a spot on his way to work recently where he couldn’t help but notice a couple of motorcycle cops hanging out. The attorney asked if he remembered the date, which he did, and it matched the date on all ten of the tickets. Bingo.
Two plus two made an easy enough four for Sosa to file a complaint with the Hialeah police department, which he immediately did after jumping off the phone with the attorney.
But one lone complaint wasn’t enough to raise any investigative eyebrows. People will say anything to get out of paying a ticket. But soon after another one came floating in and the similarities were convincing enough to warrant the matter being looked into.
This complaint was from an outraged woman saying the state had sent her a nasty letter accusing her of ignoring her six prior violations. Just as with Sosa, she had a perfect driving record. Or so she thought. She had never once in her entire life behind the wheel been pulled over. The motorcycle cops, obviously not hired for their intellect, had issued all six tickets on the very same day. The same as Sosa. And all on the exact same date.
Internal police investigators discovered what they feared most. Dozens upon dozens of bogus tickets had been issued to at least nine unknowing motorists, and in all probability, more. They’re still researching.
Meanwhile, the pair have swapped out their trusty iron steads for stainless steel handcuffs. Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, in a firm display of zero tolerance for the actions of the two former officers, issued the following statement. “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.”
The two former officers, Ernesto Arias Martinez, 23, and Armando Perez, 40, are facing multiple counts of misconduct in an official capacity. Perez, who has been on the force for five years, through his attorney Michale Greico, has said he wants to see evidence of the alleged crimes. Martinez’s lawyer has opted for the silent treatment.
The police union want’s nothing to do with either of the pair, as was clearly expressed by Marlon Espinoza, president of the Hialeah Fraternal Order of Police. “As law enforcement officers, we are entrusted in protecting and serving our residents, and these alleged actions have violated the trust of the people and rightfully so. We ask that our community not judge all our dedicated officers by the alleged actions of two.”
But what about the victims who haven’t as yet come forward? Once discovered, will they be contacted and their records wiped clean? Let’s watch and see. This may go deeper than what meets the initial eye. Can you see it?
One more quick thing. There are enough really bad drivers zipping around Hialeah for these two guys to have written way more ‘real’ tickets than the fake one they did. They were just too lazy to drop their donuts.