Miami Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty to Extortion Charges

Officer Harold James voluntarily surrendered and made his first court appearance Thursday on two counts of extortion, records show.

By Juan Ortega
|  Friday, Feb 1, 2013  |  Updated 8:03 AM EDT
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Officers Harold James and Luis Hernandez have been arrested after breaking laws they vowed to uphold, authorities said. Attorney Hernan Hernandez comments on the arrests.

Officers Harold James and Luis Hernandez have been arrested after breaking laws they vowed to uphold, authorities said. Attorney Hernan Hernandez comments on the arrests.

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Another Miami police officer has been criminally charged this week, this time in an extortion case, federal records showed Thursday.

Officer Harold James voluntarily surrendered on two counts of extortion -- accused of protecting and facilitating the illegal cashing of checks in exchange for his receiving cash payments, according to a recently filed federal document.

James' attorney, Reginald Anthony Moss, said that James pleaded not guilty to the charges at his first court appearance Thursday, and said he expected his client to soon post bail to be freed from custody.

James, who recently resigned while under investigation, is charged with being involved in an alleged protection scheme for a sports-betting ring in Liberty City, the Miami Herald reported.

The federal information says prosecutors want to recoup $800, which "constitutes the gross proceeds the defendant derived" from the alleged offense. 

James was criminally charged a day after authorities say another Miami officer was taken into custody in an unrelated case.

Officer Luis Hernandez, 27, a seven-year member of the department, was arrested Wednesday by internal affairs detectives after DNA evidence backed up a woman's claims he kidnapped and sexually battered her in November 2011, police said.

Responding to Hernandez’s arrest, Mayor Tomas Regalado told NBC 6 the investigation and arrest proves the city demands the best of its officers.

"To me, this is not a scandal, this is a cleanup of the department," Regalado said.

In a separate case announced by police Wednesday, Miami Officer Reynaldo Goyos was dismissed from the force, accused of violating department policy by shooting and killing a driver without justification nearly two years ago.

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