FORT LAUDERDALE — A Fort Lauderdale police detective is under criminal investigation for money laundering, and could be formally charged if he does not reach a plea agreement with prosecutors at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Jorge Reyes, 32, is an accomplished detective with eight years experience and a relatively clean record. But since Oct. 9, Reyes has been on paid administrative leave. He was placed on leave a day after the Fort Lauderdale Police Department received notice of the case from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Reyes has been in negotiations with Miami-Dade prosecutors, attempting to reach a plea agreement. He has yet to accept any deals offered by prosecutors, though the two sides are said to be close to an agreement. He could be charged as early as next week, if no plea deal is reached.
Another man, Luis E. Calvo Jr., who was an accomplice in the alleged crime with Reyes, according to court documents and sources close to the investigation, has already accepted a plea deal in connection with the case. Calvo is scheduled to be sentenced at a Jan. 16 hearing.
Money laundering is the practice of making financial transactions to conceal the identity, source and/or destination of money. It is often associated with organized crime. The money being laundered has usually been obtained through illegal activity.
During a court appearance on Oct. 16, Calvo pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. In his guilty plea, Calvo acknowledged before the judge and prosecutors that he and Reyes laundered money within a 12-month period. Calvo acknowledged laundering more than $100,000 during that period.
Reyes could not be reached for comment. Calvo’s attorney was traveling out of town, and did not respond to calls or messages left at his office.
A South Florida Times investigation has determined that Reyes and Calvo, both of Miami, have been under investigation related to an elaborate pickup and delivery money-laundering scheme based out of Miami-Dade County.
The details of exactly how Reyes allegedly got involved in the scheme have not yet been disclosed. Reyes is one of two Fort Lauderdale detectives assigned to a special task force that consists of state, local and federal agencies whose primary focus is to investigate and break up money-laundering rings. The connection between Reyes’ official duties and the criminal investigation into his alleged money-laundering activities has not yet been clarified.
As the result of a judge’s order sealing the case, details are scarce. Nevertheless, the South Florida Times has confirmed through court records and sources close to the investigation that Asst. State Attorney John N. Perikles is the prosecutor handling the case.
The investigation culminated in the early-morning hours of Oct. 8 in the parking lot of the Broward Mall in Plantation, where Calvo, who was under law-enforcement surveillance, picked up an undisclosed amount of cash from another person, according to sources close to the investigation who requested that their names not be published. As the monetary exchange unfolded, Reyes reportedly sat in a separate vehicle, overseeing the exchange from a distance.
Fort Lauderdale officials were made aware of the investigation later that day. Reyes was issued a memorandum informing him that he was being placed on paid leave the following morning.
“Effective immediately and until further notice, you are hereby notified that you are being relieved from regular duty and SWAT duty with pay,” police Chief Franklin C. Adderley wrote in an Oct. 9 internal memorandum.
“While relieved from duty, you will remain available to the Office of Internal Affairs from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday,” the memo states. As condition of his leave, Reyes is also required to remain at home from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
City officials are offering few details, but police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa did confirm the ongoing investigation, and explained that the criminal probe is the reason Reyes was placed on leave.
“He has been placed on administrative duty and I don’t have to specify in the letter the specifics, but obviously he is under investigation by another agency and that’s why he was placed on administrative leave,” Sousa acknowledged.
He further explained, “This is a Miami-Dade County case, that is being handled by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, and we were notified of it and our officer was placed on administrative leave.’’
Citing the status of the case and the ongoing investigation, Reyes’ union is also tight lipped on the matter.
“It’s an open investigation, so we are not commenting or making any statements,” said Jack Lokiensky, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union, of which Reyes is a member.
Miami-Dade State Attor-ney’s Office spokesman Ed Griffith would not confirm or deny the facts in the case, or even if Reyes is the target of a probe. Griffith said that due to a court order, all information related to the case has been sealed at the request of Calvo’s defense attorney, Fred J. Moldovan of Coral Gables.
“We have as a matter of policy, certain documents that are public record, but we would neither confirm or deny, any ongoing investigation,” Griffith explained.
The exact amount of funds laundered over the past year is not known, but the one count to which Calvo pleaded guilty reads, in part:
“Luis Eusebio Calvo, on or about October 7, 2008, in the County and State aforesaid, did conspire, combine, confederate and agree with others, to wit: Jorge Reyes, to transport or attempt to transport a monetary instrument or funds and knowing monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity,” it states.
NEARLY CLEAN RECORD
Hired on Oct. 16, 2000, Reyes steadily rose through the ranks. He is now assigned to the detective bureau, as well as the money laundering task force. He has also worked in SWAT and other elite units of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
With the exception of two vehicle accidents in 2001, and a reprimand for failing to completely fill out a police report in 2006, his personnel record and employment history have been without incident.
Reyes earns an annual salary of $117,140, which includes health, pension and other benefits.
If charged and convicted, or if he pleads guilty, he stands to lose those benefits along with his pension and job.