Among Miami-Dade police, it was known “Vecin’s trust fund.” The fund, earmarked to fight environmental crime with a $5 million infusion of public money over the past decade, is the focus of widening investigations into whether the bounty evolved into an unchecked kitty for police, reports the Miami Herald. At the center of those inquiries is Division Chief Frank Vecin, a part-time general contractor who rose rapidly through the department and was point person for the Florida Environmental Task Force Trust Fund. He has long maintained ties to former police director and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
Spending from the so-called green fund skyrocketed in recent years, even as county budget woes deepened, with more than half the expenditures coming in the past three years. That was the same period in which Vecin won a highly unusual authority to spend money on non-environmental items. Last week, Vecin’s control of the fund was revoked by county Police Director James Loftus. A Miami Herald review of more than 2,000 pages of memos and receipts in the past two years reveals a string of questionable expenses. They include 30 Smith & Wesson semi-automatic assault rifles totaling $19,800, with sights for $14,970, and $4,635 on sunglasses. The justification “eye protection.” These and other spending “doesn’t meet the straight face test,” said Dennis Jay Kenney, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.