Deputy Faces Extortion, Drug Charges
POSTED: Sunday, October 4, 2009
UPDATED: 4:48 am EDT October 6, 2009
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy was arrested Friday, accused of extorting money from a man in return for not arresting him on drug charges.
Manuel Silva, 34, a nine-year department veteran, was charged with armed burglary, armed extortion and two counts of drug possession.
BSO said that on Sept. 29, Silva, wearing plain clothes and displaying his badge and gun, went to the Fort Lauderdale-area home of 38-year-old Orlando Gutierrez. Police said Gutierrez allowed Silva to search the home, where the deputy found five marijuana plants.
"Instead of arresting the drug suspect, he demanded money from him," said Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti.
According to BSO, the deputy told Gutierrez that if he paid cash to him, he would not be arrested and his marijuana plants would not be confiscated. Police said Silva also promised to tell Gutierrez who had tipped him off about the pot plants.
When Gutierrez told Silva he needed a few days to get the money, police said, Silva said it would cost him more. The pair arranged to meet Friday afternoon to make the exchange, according to investigators.
BSO said that Silva went back to Gutierrez's home in an unmarked BSO car, took part of the cash payment and gave Gutierrez a photo of the tipster.
According to police, Silva returned later for the rest of the money later that evening. Detectives followed Silva from the neighborhood and arrested him in Plantation.
BSO said the detectives found illegal prescription drugs in Silva's police cruiser, as well.
Silva is being held without bond in the maximum security section of the Broward County Main Jail.
Gutierrez is cooperating with the investigation, but no one at his home was willing to talk to Local 10.
Silva's arrest is the second high-profile arrest of a BSO deputy this year. In August, Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss was charged with multiple felony counts, accused of coercing male illegal immigrants to have sex with him while he was on duty.
Lamberti said the arrests are disappointing but that they showed that the department is policing itself.
"I am proud of the fact that an outside agency did not come in and tell us we had a dirty deputy," Lamberti said.
No one was home at Silva's Davie apartment Monday.
"We are still working on the case. By no means is it over. The investigation continues. We are going to leave no stone unturned because I think there are more people involved," Lamberti said.
BSO asked that any other alleged victims call the police department's internal affairs division at 954-321-1100.