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Case Number: 1:17-cr-20780-MGC
Judge: Marcia G. Cooke
Court: United States District Court for the for the Southern District of Florida (Miami-Dade County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Michael Davis, Yeney Hernandez and Alison Lehr
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Description: Miami, FL - The United States of America charged Manuel R. Fernandez with bribery and fraud.
A former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Safety Inspector Manuel R. Fernandez, 42, of Miami, was sentenced to 75 months in prison today, after having been convicted by a trial jury of twenty-one criminal counts related to his participation in a bribery and fraud scheme.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Todd A. Damiani, Regional Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.
According to the evidence at trial, from 2010 through June 28, 2013, Fernandez served as a FAA Aviation Safety Inspector with the FAA South Florida Flight Standards District Office (“FSDO”). Patricia Suarez and Rolando Suarez were the co-owners, officers, and directors of AVCOM, a Miami aviation repair company, which was subject to the jurisdiction and official responsibility of the FAA South Florida FSDO. The evidence showed that, at the same he was working for the FAA, Fernandez held various positions at AVCOM, including Vice President of Operations.
In exchange for Patricia Suarez and Rolando Suarez corruptly providing over $150,000 in cash, as well as jewelry, a cruise, clothing, and approximately $15,000 funneled to Fernandez’s mother, Fernandez violated his lawful and official duties as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. Fernandez provided AVCOM with advanced notice and warnings as to pending FAA inspections of AVCOM, disclosed financial information about AVCOM’s competitors, and provided AVCOM with improperly obtained aviation repair manuals produced by original equipment manufacturers such as Honeywell and Delta, saving AVCOM from paying vast sums of money for this proprietary information. The evidence further showed that Fernandez provided materially false statements to the FAA and DOT in order to hide his participation in these AVCOM-related activities. Additionally, Fernandez submitted a fraudulent sick leave request to the FAA, utilizing a forged doctor’s note.
Fernandez was convicted on June 13, 2019. Today, U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke sentenced Fernandez to concurrent terms of 51 months in prison for his convictions on one conspiracy to commit bribery, fifteen counts of bribery, one count of providing false statements to a federal agency, and two counts of wire fraud. He was also ordered to serve 24 months in prison, to run consecutively to the sentence of 51 months in prison, for his conviction on the two counts of aggravated identity theft (Case No. 17-20780-Cr-Cooke).
The Court ordered Fernandez to surrender to authorities on January 6, 2020, to begin his federal prison sentence. A restitution hearing is scheduled for February 26, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
Rolando Suarez previously pled guilty and was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Patricia Suarez previously pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years’ probation with 240 days of electronic monitoring. Rolando and Patricia Suarez were ordered to jointly pay $711,940.46 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the DOT-OIG and FBI in this matter. She also thanked the Hialeah Police Department, Miami Beach Police Department, and Miami-Dade Police Department for their assistance.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
18:371 Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States
18:1001 (a)(2) False Statement
18:1343 Wire Fraud
18:1028A Agaravated Identity Theft
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 51 months imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release.
12/05/2019 234 PAPERLESS Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Marcia G. Cooke: Sentencing held on 12/5/2019 as to Manuel R. Fernandez. Total time in court: 1 hour: 30 minutes. Attorney Appearances: Michael Scott Davis, Yeney Hernandez, Amber E. Donner, Silvio Amico, Ronald Gainor. Court Reporter: Jill Wells, 305-523-5158 / Jill_Wells@flsd.uscourts.gov. (im) (Entered: 12/09/2019)
12/05/2019 235 JUDGMENT as to Manuel R. Fernandez (2), Counts 1, 17-31, 32, 33-34, 51 months imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release; Counts 35-36, 24 months imprisonment, to be served consecutively to Counts 1-34, followed by 3 years supervised release. Assessment: $2,100.00 Fine: $10,000.00. Closing Case for Defendant. Signed by Judge Marcia G. Cooke on 12/5/2019. See attached document for full details. (im) (Entered: 12/09/2019)