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Miami Beach parking officer demanded $1,000 a month to ignore violations, police say

A Miami Beach parking enforcement officer was arrested after police said he extorted a valet company for cash payments in exchange for not enforcing parking violations.

The owner of APS Parking LLC told police that Dante Zirio, a 57-year-old city employee, demanded $1,000 a month in exchange for not issuing parking citations to the company.

On Saturday, Zirio received a $750 payment from the valet owner, Freddy Diaz, in a conversation that was captured on video by Miami Beach police as part of a sting operation.

Following his arrest later the same day, police said Zirio told them he extorted Diaz and a second private business, the Mr. Jones nightclub at 320 Lincoln Rd. Zirio said he received $400 from the nightclub for not issuing parking citations to the club, police said.

He faces two counts each of extortion, bribery and accepting an unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior, police said. The city’s internal affairs unit arrested Zirio after a covert video camera captured the exchange between Zirio and Diaz.

In an email to the mayor and commission, City Manager Jimmy Morales said arresting Zirio was “the right thing” and lamented his alleged actions.

“It is a sad day when a public official engages in such behavior, but it is good to know that internally we did the right thing to identify and arrest the perpetrator,” he wrote. “As always, we remain vigilant.”

A city spokeswoman said a pre-disciplinary hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow. The “final outcome of his employment” will be determined after that hearing takes place.

Information on his jail status and bail were not immediately available.