Law enforcement in Miami has its hands full investigating tax refund fraud schemes. It doesn’t help when three law enforcement officers are involved in those schemes.
Bernard Beliard, a Florida Department of Corrections officer assigned to the South Florida Reception Center, and Vital Frederick and Malinzky Bazile – two Miami Police Department officers – were arrested yesterday and charged in three separate complaints with fraud and extortion offenses. One complaint charges Bernard Beliard with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. The second complaint charges Vital Frederick with extortion under color of official right, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The third complaint charges Malinsky Bazile with access device fraud, use of a computer to facilitate the access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to the allegations, the defendants used their official law enforcement position to access personal identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of individuals, which they then sold to others. In Belliard’s case, he is accused of selling State of Florida Department of Corrections Daily Intake Lists that included 805 names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of inmates at the South Florida Reception Center (SFRC) to an FBI confidential source. When confronted by an FBI agent after the fourth transaction, Belliard handed over the cash he had just received. He also admitted to selling the lists and to knowing that they would be used for tax refund fraud.
Bazile and Frederick allegedly misused their access to the D.A.V.I.D. (DAVID) driver’s license database to find identity information to be used for tax refund fraud. Bazile allegedly systematically ran searches on the database for women in a particular age range, e.g., he would run a search on DAVID for females in Florida aged 57 to 61 with first names beginning with “A” and last name “Martinez.” Bazile screened the profiles of over 1,000 people from his targeted searches. Within days of his searches, the IRS received fraudulent returns in some of those names.
Caught after Internal Affairs installed a keylogger on his laptop and he was photographed withdrawing money from ATMs using debit cards issued for the fraudulent tax refunds, Bazile “signed a written confession where he admitted (1) that he used DAVID on his MPD-issued computer to find personal information of victims to file fraudulent tax returns; (2) that he withdrew money from pre-paid debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refunds of these victims at ATMs; and (3) that he made approximately $130,000 to $140,000 in 2011 and 2012 from the scheme.
Frederick also allegedly misused his access to the DAVID database and provided a confidential source with 52 individuals’ identity information in two separate transactions. In his case, the identity information sale seemed secondary to a bigger role he allegedly played in protecting a courier for a check-cashing service involving fraudulent checks.
Bazile and Frederick are not the only Miami police officers under investigation. Nine others were relieved of duty in recent months and are under investigation in a corruption probe.