For Immediate Release: October 23, 2012
Contact: Joseph Centorino, Executive Director
Police Chief faces ethics violations
The police chief of South Miami is facing four charges of violating ethics laws for steering city business to his wife’s companies. The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) today found probable cause that Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro violated South Miami’s “prohibition on transacting business with the city,” as well the County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance’s “prohibition on exploitation of official position.” The complaint against Martinez de Castro (C 12-31) cites three times during 2011when the South Miami Police Department contracted with Airways Auto Tag Agency for tags and titles for forfeiture vehicles. Airways is owned by Ileana Martinez de Castro, the police chief’s wife. She also owns Beck & Lo’s Insurance Agency, Inc. Last April, Chief de Castro used his city e-mail account to solicit business for his wife’s agency. The case will proceed to a public hearing.
This press release confirms rumors that we heard months ago. Our sources told us that the ethics commission had issued a probable cause letter several months ago and that Chief Martinez had hired a criminal defense attorney that was trying to cut a deal with the Ethics Commission to let him simply get off with a fine or some other slap on the wrist. Luckily for us, the Ethics Commission stood firm and refused to let Chief Martinez off, now we have to wait for the public hearing and see how things pan out. Our sources also tell us that Chief Martinez has hired Miami doper era criminal defense attorney Simon Steckel to defend him during this ethics investigation. Mr Steckel is an interesting character with a checkered past, you can read a little about him here and here.
The consequences of this public hearing could be dire for the chief, let's not forget that if he's found guilty, his cushy job as the chief of police is TOAST! What's really sick about this whole ordeal though is that we're told that the Chief's defense is going to consist of making City of South Miami Police Major Ana Baixauli the scapegoat for his misdeeds. That's too bad but is to be expected from someone like Chief Martinez, I guess we'll have to end up giving the ethics commission the video recordings of people we interviewed over the last year who told us in no uncertain terms that the Chief himself directed them to take city business to his wife's tag agency...