Courts & Crime

FBI says Miami police officer, friends pocketed Crime Stoppers rewards

Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers doles out cash for tipsters who turn in criminals.

But one of their own — a Miami officer taking tips — used the inside information to rip off thousands of dollars in reward money, authorities said.

Officer Wayne Fortella, an 11-year Miami police veteran, was charged Wednesday with wire fraud and conspiracy in Miami federal court. Two of his friends, who allegedly collected the Crime Stoppers payments at Wachovia banks, were also charged. One is at large.

Cellphone calls and text messages between Fortella and each of the two other men — with details for picking up the rewards — helped authorities track the trio.

The tips generally came in from the northern part of the county, and the rewards were picked up in the southern half. Some involved a county gun bounty program.

On a single day in June 2008, one of the men picked up four different rewards from four different bank branches.

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