FORT LAUDERDALE — A Fort Lauderdale police detective who was assigned to investigate money laundering has pleaded guilty to laundering money himself, and has resigned from the force.
Jorge Reyes, a 32-year-old, eight-year veteran, finalized his negotiated surrender with prosecutors in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office on Dec. 16.
Officials with the State Attorney’s Office would not provide details on the plea agreement, or say whether Reyes is cooperating with prosecutors to implicate other people in the ongoing investigation.
“At this point, we are still looking at it and we are unable to comment, or make any statements whatsoever,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office. “But it’s my understanding that he did plead guilty.”
Reyes could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, David Macey, did not respond to emails or messages left at his Miami office.
Reyes turned himself in to authorities at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building at 1351 N.W. 12th St. in Miami on Dec. 18. He was charged with one count of money laundering of more than $100,000 within a 12-month period, records show.
The exact amount of funds has not been disclosed, but it is believed to be $750,000, according to sources close to the investigation who did not wish to be identified.
During the Dec. 18 hearing, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola remanded Reyes into custody. Reyes was booked into the county jail and released on his own recognizance without having to post bail.
A status hearing is scheduled for Feb. 13, but the indictment already has rocked the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. At issue is whether Reyes would make a credible witness in court about crimes he investigated as a detective.
“Each one of the cases [involving Reyes] will have to be reviewed on its own merit, but it’s going to have a significant impact,” Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart said. “If any of the cases are based on the truthfulness of the officer [Reyes] that’s going to make the case, then we will probably just drop those cases and not even fight them.’’
Tim Donnelly, head of the Broward County State Attorney’s Office’s Special Investigations Unit, said steps have been taken to secure sensitive information in cases involving Reyes, and defense attorneys were notified of his status when the agency was informed he was under investigation.
“What happens is we take the officer’s name and put it on what is called a Brady’s list,” Donnelly explained. “We put his name on the list, and we notified everyone, as soon as he was under investigation, so prosecutors already had his name. We have to turn it over to the defense attorneys.’’
Donnelly said he was unsure exactly how many cases could be impacted, but said all of the notices have already gone out.
MONEY LAUNDERING EXPLAINED
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.
On Oct. 9, Reyes was placed on paid administrative leave after the Fort Lauderdale Police Department received notice of the investigation from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
“Effective immediately and until further notice, you are hereby notified that you are being relieved from regular duty and SWAT duty with pay,” Fort Lauderdale 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 stated.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Frank Sousa did not respond to repeated calls, emails or messages left with his secretary.
But the Fraternal Order of Police union that represented Reyes as a police officer confirmed his resignation from the department.
“I can’t comment on it because it is an ongoing criminal investigation, but I can tell you he did submit his resignation, but I’m not sure of the effective date or where it stands at this point, but I don’t believe he is a police officer at this point,” union president Jack Lokiensky said.
The union is not involved in Reyes’ criminal case.
Reyes’ resignation came on Dec. 22, after he turned himself in, and after the South Florida Times published details of the criminal investigation in its Nov. 28 edition.
ACCOMPLICE PLEADED GUILTY
The newspaper explained in that story that another man, Luis E. Calvo Jr., who stood accused as an accomplice in the crime with Reyes, also accepted a plea deal in connection with the case and is scheduled to be sentenced at a Jan. 16 hearing.
During a court appearance on Oct. 16, Calvo pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. He acknowledged guilt before the judge and prosecutors about his and Reyes’ role in the case.
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.”
A South Florida Times investigation revealed that Reyes and Calvo, both of Miami, have been under investigation for months, but as a result of a judge’s order sealing the case, details are scarce. Nevertheless, the newspaper confirmed through court records and sources close to the investigation that assistant state attorneys John N. Perikles and Howard Rosen are the prosecutors handling the cases.
Reyes was 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 money-laundering investigation was based in Miami-Dade County.
The connection between Reyes’ official duties and the criminal investigation into his money-laundering activities has not yet been clarified.
According to sources, Reyes recruited Calvo and then provided him with confidential and privileged information that allowed him to pick up money from a suspect who was under surveillance by the money-laundering task force.
The investigation culminated in the early-morning hours of Oct. 8 in the parking lot of the Broward Mall in Plantation, where Calvo picked up an undisclosed amount of cash from another person, sources said. As the monetary exchange unfolded, Reyes reportedly sat in a separate vehicle, overseeing the exchange from a distance.
Reyes was born in Havana, Cuba and is a naturalized United States citizen. Hired on Oct. 16, 2000, Reyes rose through the ranks, worked out of the city’s detective bureau, and was assigned to the money-laundering task force. He has also worked in SWAT and other elite units of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and his indictment is sending shock waves through the department.
With the exception of two vehicle accidents in 2001, and a reprimand for failing to completely fill out a police report in 2006, Reyes’ personnel record and employment history have been without incident. Reyes received annual compensation of $117,140, which included health, pension and other benefits.
Photo: Jorge Reyes, left, and Luis Calvo, right.