Former Opa-Locka Building & Licenses Office employee Mary Brown has been charged in the alleged theft of $266,784 in city fees. Brown worked in that office for more than five years and faces three felony charges, including one count each of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and official misconduct. The charges come as a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Over a three-year period beginning in fiscal year 2016 and continuing through fiscal year 2019, Brown allegedly defrauded the city by stealing the payments from customers paying cash for business licenses. She allegedly organized a scheme to manipulate and circumvent the standard operating procedures established by the city by utilizing customer receipts that she deliberately did not inventory or assign in the computer database, as was required.
The failure to reference customer receipt numbers in the database limited Opa-locka’s ability to properly reconcile licenses and payments, allowing Brown to provide customers with the purchased licenses without the city detecting the thefts.
“Allegations that a former Opa-locka employee would have used her position to blatantly steal from the city is horrendous enough,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “But given all the fiscal difficulties that the city of Opa-locka has worked hard to overcome, such actions are a betrayal of the residents of the city and of those city workers committed to making Opa-locka stronger. I commend the Miami-Dade Police Department and my prosecutors for aggressively pursuing this investigation.”
The investigation of Brown’s transactions to her personal bank account for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 indicated alleged cash deposits of $116,922 in addition to her total salaried city income of $106,795 for the same period.