Bribe Sting Nets Circuit Judge, Attorney
MIAMI (AP) _ A judge and a defense attorney were arrested Thursday on charges of accepting $20,000 to reduce the bond of an undercover agent who was in jail posing as a criminal.
Dade County Circuit Judge Howard Gross was taken into custody at his home and a search of his house turned up some of the money given him by attorney Harvey Swickle, said Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman Rolando Bolanos.
Gross and Swickle were each charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, said Bolanos.
The arrests grew out of a sting operation set up by the department and the Dade State Attorney’s Office, and included putting a phony criminal defendant in the county jail Wednesday night.
The sting ″resulted in Mr. Harvey Swickle receiving a payment of approximately $20,000 from an undercover FDLE agent, and in exchange passing a certain amount of that money to Judge Howard Gross for the specific purpose of reducing the bond,″ said Bolanos.
Agents who arrested Gross also searched his home and seized some of the $20,000 bribe money, authorities said. Swickle, 45, was stopped as he left the house Thursday morning, and a search of his 1986 red Corvette turned up another portion of the money.
Gross and Swickle were released on $2,500 bond each.
They could face up to six years in prison on the two charges.
Dade State Attorney Janet Reno refused to say what led investigators to Swickle and Gross.
The investigation included wiretaps of both defendants’ homes, according to Ms. Reno.
Gross, 48, is a judge in the circuit court’s criminal division. According to Gerald Schwartz, who handled Gross’ 1982 campaign, Gross was the highest rated county court judge in 1980 in a poll of the Dade County Bar Association.