A former Opa-locka police captain was sentenced in Miami federal court Thursday to more than seven years in prison and four years' probation after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges, according to court documents.
Arthur Balom, 46, of Miramar, was facing a maximum of 40 years in prison. Family and friends submitted 11 letters to U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard seeking leniency at his sentencing hearing.
The testimonials praised Balom for being a devoted husband, loving father, dedicated son, loyal sibling, inspiring mentor and a good friend who read the Bible daily and became a changed man during his pre-trial year behind bars.
Letters from his daughter Brittany Balom, 14, were among the most touching.
"I didn't want to be judged because of what people heard about my Dad," she wrote. "So I didn't go to school and stayed home and was really affected by his absence and was sick with pneumonia."
The 12-year police veteran was accused of distributing cocaine, Ecstasy and oxycodone for an Opa-locka-based drug trafficking organization known as The Back Blues, investigators said.
Among other things, Balom -- also known as "Main Man" or "Unc" -- provided the organization with information about police activity, steered his subordinate officers away from the group's base of operations, and helped the drug traffickers whenever they came into contact with law enforcement, prosecutors said.
Several examples came out in court hearings. In one instance, FBI agents gave Balom a notebook with photographs of armed robbery suspects and asked Balom about a suspected co-conspirator. The next day Balom met with that suspect and showed him the FBI notebook, court records stated.
On another occasion, Balom sold four bulletproof vests to some members of the drug organization. One of those vests was worn by a gunman who shot and killed a Brinks security guard outside a Bank of America branch on Miramar Parkway in Miramar in October 2010, prosecutors said.
Investigators said they had no evidence that Balom had any prior knowledge of the holdup, which resulted in the fatal shooting of Alejandro Nodarse Arencibia, 48, but said Balom should have known his assistance could have aided in the commission of violent crimes.
Nathaniel Moss, who is serving a life prison term after admitting he killed the Brinks guard, began cooperating with investigators and told them Balom had sold him the ballistic vest he was wearing when he shot the guard, court records showed.
The FBI began a drug trafficking investigation at the Back Blues' apartment complex in 2009, using confidential sources and wiretaps that implicated Balom.
When confronted with the recordings and other information against him, Balom agreed to help the FBI and admitted some misconduct in a statement. At first, he claimed his involvement with the Back Blues was not voluntary but he later changed his plea, records showed.
In her letter to Judge Lenard, mother-in-law Hazel Martin said Balom only admitted guilt to spare his family the stress of a trial.
More charges were expected against other suspects identified in the ongoing investigation.
Staff writer Paula McMahon contributed to this story.
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