Miamians are asking how a convicted murderer got the security clearance to run a facility that pumps 50 million gallons of fuel into airliners every month at Miami International Airport. The Miami Herald reports that Richard Caride, a former Hialeah, Fl., officer involved in the 1985 murders of a popular nightclub owner and his girlfriend, managed the airport’s fuel farm and had access to the most restricted parts of the airport. Miami prosecutor Katherine Fernández Rundle says he was the ringleader of a conspiracy that stole jet fuel and bilked the airport through kickbacks, bogus invoices, and grossly inflated bills. Beyond a rip-off of at least $5.5 million, investigators found security so lax that they warned the federal Transportation Security Administration last year that “Osama bin Laden could drive a fuel truck right through the back gate and no one would notice.” Nothing changed; truckers continued to enter and leave without even stopping at the guardhouse.
Yesterday, prosecutors finished a round of arrests that netted 10 defendants, including a well-connected lobbyist and a project manager at the county Aviation Department. Caride, 46, has been cooperating with authorities and has been ill. He served three years of a seven-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1980s. On his job application, Caride said he was working at a fence company when he was in prison. At the time, the county didn’t conduct criminal background checks on workers at the airport.