Miami-Dade police abused trust funds meant to repel environmental crime by flouting purchasing rules, misrepresenting the need for the public dollars and lavishing millions on the agency instead of fighting polluters, a draft audit by the county Inspector General found. The fund was marred by “overall chaotic administration,” and replete with “excessive, unreasonable, or unnecessary” purchases, concludes the 38-page report obtained by The Miami Herald.
Until recently, the fund was led by Division Chief Frank Vecin, a longtime ally of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. The police department is investigating. The report examines the nearly $6 million spent from 2000-09 from two funds aimed at combating environmental crime. Vecin controlled both: the South Florida Environmental Task Force Trust Fund and Florida Environmental Task Force Trust Fund. A Herald investigation in March detailed how hundreds of thousands of dollars were earmarked for items with little to do with fighting environmental crimes. The spending include $1 million for cell phone and data charges, the purchase of 30 rifles, and $1.1 million for car rentals, gas and 23 sport utility vehicles and trucks that were driven by officials — including police brass and, for a time, the mayor — who were not directly tasked with fighting polluters.