MIAMI — A former Miami police officer was sentenced Tuesday to just over a year in federal prison for accepting hundreds of dollars in bribes as a police officer to protect a check-cashing business.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola sentenced Harold James, 29, to one year and three months. Prosecutors had recommended a year and a half, citing a February plea agreement, prompt admission of guilt and cooperation with investigators.
James pleaded for leniency and understanding at his hearing, explaining that he made a stupid mistake.
"If anybody asked me for the shirt off my back, I gave it to them," James told the judge. "Church and work, that's all I do."
Scola reminded the eight-year veteran that some people in the community have a hard time believing police officers because of the wrongdoing of cops like James and others.
"It seems the City of Miami Police Department has a culture of corruption that exceeds all other police departments," Scola said to James. "You threw away your career for chump change — $800."
Authorities say James, who had resigned in November, was targeted by a fellow police officer, Nathaniel Dauphin, who began working for the FBI after being implicated in a Liberty City sports gambling last year.
The Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/ZLe3a0 ) reports that James and Dauphin are among 11 Miami police officers facing federal criminal charges or internal discipline related to the gambling protection scheme and other criminal activities.
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com