Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cast a vote for City of South Miami police chief Orlando Martinez de Castro!

The holidays really aren't conducive to blogging as I'm sure you can imagine! 

In the mean time, take a moment to cast a vote for embattled City of South Miami police chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro over at the New Times website for Miami's worst cop of 2012!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Our readers perspective on City of South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro's taxpayer funded bariatric surgery and the Miami New Times gives us a mention.

The Miami New Times asked us to figure out what our favorite post of the year was, yesterday they included our pick in their "Miami Political Bloggers Pick Their Favorite Posts of 2012" story.  Ours was of course the post where we discovered City of South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro steering city business to his wife's tag agency, from the New Times story...
Mike Hatami, The StrawbuyerSome fun with Googlemaps and I need a favor, can someone help me find an auto tag agency near South Miami? March 7
"I'd have to say that the blog post where we exposed the South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro's unethical and illegal activities had to be my favorite post of the year because in one fell swoop we managed to turn the tables on the chief. Now the once mighty chief finds himself in a situation where he's fighting for his job and is having to defend himself against the charges filed against him by the ethics commission."
This post began a series unraveling Martinez de Castro's alleged unethical practice of steering work to his wife's auto tag agency, which is now the subject of a Miami-Dade ethics commission complaint. Hatami went after the chief after writing several posts about how his wife allegedly wrongly accused three of her former employees of theft.
I was all ready to put together a great post today about a witness that the Miami Dade Ethics Commission would have loved to talk to in regards to the City of South Miami Police Chief's upcoming ethics hearing but apparently our story yesterday struck a chord with some of our readers, some of which may be City of South Miami residents and taxpayers.

If you recall, yesterday we discussed the police chief's bariatric surgery which as we've come to understand was paid for by a loan by the City of South Miami.  

After we made our post, we received this comment...
I wonder if a resident or tax payer of the City of South Miami can borrow money from the City of South Miami to help pay for medical or personally desired health concerns?
Better yet, can the City of South Miami give a loan to its tax payers or defer the tax bill for those who are WITHOUT health insurance, much less than having a service that is not covered under a health plan?

Lay-off the damn donuts and leave the darn arroz con this or bistec con that alone and you will loose pounds. Now I want to know who approved of this shit without public input.
Does he not make over $140,000. a year in salary, benefits: vacation, medical, dental, vision, auto, gas, long/short and life insurance, All of which is paid by the tax payers? Whats going on here?

What an insightful comment.  Why should a police chief who makes well over $100k per year need to borrow money from the city to get this elective surgery?  As the commenter said, if you really want to lose weight...
Lay-off the damn donuts and leave the darn arroz con this or bistec con that alone and you will loose pounds.
You forgot to mention all this crap as well...

Honestly, wtf?!  

The commenter says it best...
Does he not make over $140,000. a year in salary, benefits: vacation, medical, dental, vision, auto, gas, long/short and life insurance, All of which is paid by the tax payers? Whats going on here?
Our next commenter then puts things in perspective...
the manager hector mirable approved this for his friend orlando martinez de castro. the combination of these two were very unhealthy for the city of south miami and for the residents.
Exactly.  With these two characters at the helm of the city tag teaming the citizens and taxpayers of South Miami, anything was possible, even something as outrageous lending the chief the money for an elective surgery.  

To be honest with you, we really wish the Chief would have asked us about our thoughts on dieting as we have a far cheaper alternative to surgery...

Regardless, I've put in several public information requests regarding the loan for the weight loss surgery as well as a whole host of other issues regarding the embattled chief, so we'll have to wait and see if the city is going to play ball or if we're going to have to sue them to get the records, as of now it's not looking like they want to cooperate with us.  That's all for now folks, I'll post up my story about that witness we discussed earlier on Monday then I'll spend the gap between the holidays summarizing our posts over the last year as they pertained to the Airways Auto Tag story and the City of South Miami's Police Chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Miami Herald scooped our scoop!

Last week we concluded one of our posts with this question...
For those of you over in South Miami, have you noticed how much weight the Chief has lost? You'll never guess who footed the bill for his bariatric surgery!
I intended to go deeper into this story and reveal just who ended up paying for the chief's surgery but our friend Andrea Torres ended up beating us to the punch in her article yesterday regarding the chief...
On Friday, Hatami wrote in his blog: “Have you noticed how much weight the chief has lost? You’ll never guess who footed the bill for his bariatric surgery.” After the insurance company denied coverage for the procedure, records show Martinez de Castro borrowed about $10,000 earlier this year from the city as part of a health care payment account to cover part of the cost of the surgery, which he has been paying the city back in installments.
LOL!  So the chief borrowed the money from the City to get his bariatric surgery done?!

I'm having a hard time comprehending that.  I'm going to guess that the chief must have demonstrated to the city in some way shape or form that the weight loss surgery was absolutely necessary and that he didn't have the financial resources to pay for the procedure on his own.  That seems fair enough, but why would the chief have to borrow the money from the city in these trying economic times?  Does that seem fair to his fellow city employees or for that matter to the taxpayers of the City of South Miami?  This doesn't sound kosher to me, in fact I have information that police chief Orlando Martinez de Castro was far from needing a loan from the city to perform this procedure, in fact I have evidence that the chief himself is flush and was actively loaning large sums of money on a routine basis to others.

I'll have to put in another useless public information request regarding this loan for the chief's weight loss surgery to see what we can come up with.  Don't hold your breath though as the city of South Miami's clerks office has been somewhat less than helpful to date.  

In the meantime, come on back tomorrow and check out the Christmas gift we're going to give our friends over at the Miami Dade County Ethics Commission to help them along with the chief's ethics investigation...

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The emperor has no clothes on! City of South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro is slowly losing his powers over at the city.

In a startling move last night, the City of South Miami city commission voted to relieve embattled police chief Orlando Martinez de Castro of two of his most important duties other than running the police department.  I'm not exactly sure why but up until last night the city's code enforcement office and the city's parking operations were under the command and control of the police chief.  This makes absolutely no sense to me, shouldn't the chief be busy running his police force rather than taking care of matters that really have nothing to do with his intended role?

As we saw several month ago, the police chief used his code enforcement department to illegally detain local handyman Warren Papove with allegations of "working without a permit" until Immigration agents were able to arrive and arrest him for immigration violations that had nothing to do with the alleged code enforcement issue.  We're going to learn a little later another major reason why the chief was in charge of code enforcement, but suffice it to say that he's no longer in charge.  The commission voted 3 to 2 to remove the code enforcement department from the chief's control.  As I understand it, they voted to remove the parking department from the chief's control as well but it has to go to another vote before it's finalized.  Little by little, it seems that the chief is losing his grip on the city, I suspect the next step is going to be the new City Manager showing him the door...

Now, we had an interesting comment on yesterday's post...
Oh this is an easy one.. I try to have the answer before I ask the question with my city. That way it is easier to prove they are lying.. I actually had to vist Ms. Rundle and her Public corruption staff many a time when I found the city to be lying.. The city was out on notice that next time i will sue their asses off. Re-submit your PRR with as many names as possible. When they search their mainframe it is based on keywords. Do yourself a favor and ask for all text messages and emails from the Chiefs city issued phone. Watch the sparks fly. The city will try and nail you with expenses but they cannot. The carrier has all this information and the client is entitled to it. The city is the client, therefore no work must be done.
That's a great comment, I had never thought to ask for the chief's text messages.  As far as being stonewalled by the city clerk with my public information requests, that's real simple.  I've been told that the IT people over at the city as well as the vendor that the city uses for their IT work are all friends of the chief so it's easy to understand why I'm not getting anywhere with my requests.  After all, doesn't it stand to reason that if there's incriminating emails that will paint the chief in a bad light that his friends would do everything they can to keep them from coming to light?  Regardless, if we don't get anywhere with these requests, we'll take a page from our friend Al Crespo's book and go ahead and sue the city for the documents that we suspect exist and are being kept from us.

On another note, I've been told from several sources that the Miami Dade County Ethics Commission has been sending out subpoenas to various city departments and employees  in preparation for his ethics hearing in January.  If anyone reading has one of these subpoenas, please get me a copy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm beginning to think that the folks over at the City of South Miami don't wan't to cooperate with me.

Is it just me or do the people over at the City of South Miami's clerk office not want to cooperate with me? I've sent over a few public information requests to the city clerk, the first few were ignored and most recently I got this response when I requested any and all email communications between City of Miami director of human resources Latasha Nickle and the police chief's wife, Ileana Martinez de Castro or any representatives of Airways Auto Tag Agency...
Regarding the Public Records request below for any and all emails between Latasha Nickle and Iliana Martinez de Castro there are no messages that come up on a search with that criteria. The PRR also requests that any emails from employees of the agency be included however without specific names that search cannot be performed. I have no information on the agency or it’s employees.
Thank you

That's strange, either I was vague about the scope of my public information request or there are no emails between the parties that I identified in my request or worse, the emails that I requested do exist and someone over at the City of South Miami is trying to keep anyone from seeing them.

So what's the big deal you ask about some possible emails between a human resources director and the police chief or his wife?  A quick search reveals a very interesting fact about Ms. Nickle, it seems that in addition to her job as a Human Resources director over at the city, Ms. Nickle is also an attorney who's office address is listed as the City of South Miami's city hall...

Now there certainly is nothing wrong with a lawyer being the director of Human Resources although I'm sure this isn't the job Ms. Nickle had in mind when she graduated from law school.  So what's the point of all this?  I'm guessing with a lawyer on staff over at the city, especially one that's in such close proximity to the police chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro, that there's a pretty good chance that the chief may use Ms. Nickle to do legal work that has nothing to do with the city or any city business.  After all, imagine the convenience of having a lawyer at your beck and call just a few steps away from you free of charge to you?  It's certainly a possibility.   What remains to be seen though is whether or not the chief actually had Ms. Nickle do any legal work for him and if he did so whether or not there were any email correspondences between them, if indeed there were then these emails would be subject to a public information request under Public Records Act, Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes.

We'll give the public information request another shot, perhaps this time we'll word it a bit differently and maybe we'll get lucky, if we do though then things are going to get a lot worse for the police chief...

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Friday!

I apologize to everyone for not having something better to put up today, too many leads, too much work and not enough time.  While I'm busy muddling through today, make sure you all go over to our friend Al Crespo's site and take a look at the latest jam our state attorney finds herself in, the possibly prosecution of one of her political allies City of Miami Commissioner Willy Gort who is being accused of almost the exact same charges that landed former North Miami mayor Myron Rosner in jail.  The difference between Rosner and Gort is that Rosner wasn't part of the "political machine" that runs this town.  We'll have to wait and see how the state attorneys office will wiggle their way out of filing charges against Commissioner Gort, perhaps much the same way they did in former Doral Police Chief Gomez's case that we discussed yesterday.

Regardless, I'm working on a number of stories regarding our favorite police chief over in the City of South Miami, Orlando Martinez de Castro.  For those of you over in South Miami, have you noticed how much weight the Chief has lost?  You'll never guess who footed the bill for his bariatric surgery!  Stay tuned, till then take a look at these delicious donuts...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Doral police chief fired after prosecutors refused to press charges against him.

Check out the video from WSVN 7...


After an FDLE investigation there appears to have been some allegations of bid rigging and theft, allegations that were so serious that the FDLE special investigator even prepared an arrest warrant   for former Doral Police Chief Ricardo "Ricky" Gomez...

Gomez Affidavit

Once the FDLE investigation was concluded, the matter was turned over to our state attorney' public corruption unit who refused to file charges against him, the state attorneys close out memo can be found here...

Gomez Close-Out Memo

Specifically the prosecutor stated that:
There is no evidence that a crime has been committed.
How can this happen you ask, especially when the FDLE investigators report couldn't have been clearer regarding the crimes that allegedly took place?  Perhaps the words of former City of Miami police chief Miguel Exposito describing the state attorney sum it up best...
"The problem I have with her is that she is very aggressive against certain politicians or government workers, yet with others she takes the soft approach.  She gives you all the reasons in the world not to go after them..."
Well said, I think the Chief hit the nail right on the head.  Despite a scathing report and subsequent arrest warrant from FDLE somehow the state attorneys office found "every reason in the world" not to go after Chief Gomez.  

I don't know the relationship between our state attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, and former Doral police chief Ricardo Gomez, all I know is that Gomez is a veteran of the Miami Dade PD.  Perhaps Chief Gomez has a history with the state attorney similar to the one that City of South Miami police chief Orlando Martinez de Castro claims to have?  It wouldn't be fair to speculate until we know if indeed there was some sort of relationship that would cause the state attorney to toss out the case against Chief Gomez but if there was, would anyone be surprised?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We left off last Thursday discussing the possibility of a conflict existing between the State Attorney's office in the prosecution of a crime committed where the victim is actually a friend or relative of the state attorney.  If such an instance did occur, do you think it's possible for the victim to get a fair shake?  From our last post discussing the matter...
Indulge me for a moment, say that "friend" did make a call to Ms. Rundle and told her about the alleged wrong that had been done to them, would it be possible for Ms. Rundle to get personally involved in the case, perhaps maybe even taking the rookie line prosecutor that was handling the case off and reassigning a veteran prosecutor to make sure the case went down the way she wanted? 
Imagine for a moment if this very scenario did occur, can you imagine the tremendous amount of pressure that would be on the prosecutor to make sure he achieved a conviction against the alleged victims that supposedly committed a crime against the state attorneys friend or family member?  The possibility of failing to convict would leave me scared shitless!

So what's the point of all this talk of conflicts and such?  Is this a purely hypothetical situation?  I can't say for sure as I haven't been able to confirm but what I have been told by several different sources that are very, very close to City of South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro is that he is very, very close to our state attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  In fact, I'm told that the chief has told anyone that would listen that he was at Mr. Rundle's father's bedside when he passed away.  Can you get closer than that?

Now, if we accept the presumption that the chief and our state attorney are extremely close friends, perhaps as close as you can get without being related by blood, does it seem fair for her office to prosecute a crime that was allegedly committed against the chief or his family?  To me it seems like there's an obvious conflict of interest.  Somehow it seems to me that the prosecutors role might be compromised in this instance, what's that old saying about a prosecutors job?  Something about the "search for truth" rather than achieving a conviction no matter what, somehow with an obvious conflict like this one it seems like that "search for truth" may be second to "achieving a conviction no matter what".  While I'm not suggesting that would be the case with our state attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, it could certainly be a possibility.

With that possibility of a conflict of interest in mind, let's take a look at the Airways Auto Tag case for a moment.  For those of you who've forgotten about the case, it's where the City of South Miami's police chief's wife alleges that three tellers who worked for her stole tens of thousands of dollars while working at her tag agency.  Of course, the case is being prosecuted by our local state attorneys office, the same state attorney that the police chief says that he has a very close if not almost familial relationship with.  Am I the only one that thinks there's a possible conflict of interest here by Ms. Rundle's office prosecuting this case?  If nothing else, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, shouldn't Ms. Rundle's office recuse themselves from prosecuting this case?  

I know if I was a defense attorney representing these tellers, that would have been my first move!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Police and prosecutorial misconduct all in one.

I watched an amazing heart wrenching documentary by Ken Burns yesterday called The Central Park Five, this is a must see documentary that whose subject matter is the wrongful prosecution of five innocent children who were wrongfully alleged to have raped a jogger in Central Park back in the late '80's.  The story is a textbook example of both police and prosecutorial misconduct.  Here is a trailer for the movie...

You can find a detailed account of what went on here...

The case is just another case study of an overzealous prosecutor overstepping their bounds and police who were all to eager to put together a case and make arrests regardless of the truth.  How many times does this have to happen before we put a stop to it?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Conflict of interest anyone?

Conflict of interest, it's a simple concept. Before we move on, let's be clear about what the term means, from Wikipedia...
A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other.
Easy enough, right?  The definition goes on to state...
A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.
This bit is also very important...
...a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs.
Katherine Rundle
With that said, let's turn for a moment to our beloved State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, arguably one of the most powerful and best liked people in our county.  Considering how long Ms. Rundle has been at the head of the state attorneys office, one can only imagine how many people close friends she must have and how many people she's done business with.  It's safe to assume that at some point or another a situation arises where a friend or business partner unfortunately becomes the victim of a crime that her office ultimately will prosecute.  Now, I can't say with any certainty if there's an instance where that friend or business associate picks up the phone and tells Ms. Rundle personally about what's happened to them but can you imagine being the poor alleged criminal if that call was made?  YIKES!  I don't even want to think how that would play out.  

Indulge me for a moment, say that "friend" did make a call to Ms. Rundle and told her about the alleged wrong that had been done to them, would it be possible for Ms. Rundle to get personally involved in the case, perhaps maybe even taking the rookie line prosecutor that was handling the case off and reassigning a veteran prosecutor to make sure the case went down the way she wanted?  Although it's simply conjecture, it is certainly plausible.

Another instance of a possible conflict of interest for Ms. Rundle would be if one of her friends or business associates was accused of some sort of wrong doing.  A most recent example of just such a case was when there was an investigation into the Absentee Ballot Broker scandal, Ms. Rundle explained it best in her press release...
Now that the arrest of Deisy Penton De Cabrera has been accomplished and she is facing a felony and two misdemeanor charges related to absentee ballot fraud, I have today asked the Governor’s office for an Executive Assignment of this case to another prosecutor’s office.

Unsubstantiated allegations have recently been brought to my attention that a person who has been assisting in my campaign was alleged to have been seen in the company of this defendant. I am therefore taking this action to avoid even the possibility that my pending election will cause any distraction to the prosecution of this case. I am also doing this with the intent of toning down the rhetoric so that this case can progress in a normal and expeditious manner for the benefit of our community.
While I don't know about the "unsubstantiated allegations" part, we know that Ms. Rundle employed a consultant named Al Lorenzo who some were alleging had links to the ballot broker that was arrested son in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Ms. Rundle recused herself from the case.  Any reasonable person would agree that this was the right thing to do.

So, where am I going with all this?  The astute among you already know exactly what I'm talking about and exactly who has a conflict of interest in several of the cases that we've been writing about.  I'm off today to confirm that these conflicts do exist and I'll report back tomorrow.

Read more here:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones opens up a can of whoop ass on State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle!

We've discussed City of Miami Commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones, and her legal struggles over the last several years many times throughout the course of our blog.  Following her legal battles with the state attorneys office was especially tough for me as I saw many parallels in how they dealt with her with how the state dealt with my wife's case from back in October 2008, fabricated evidence, coercion of witnesses, lying prosecutors etc.  Most damaging though was the loss of reputation and standing in the community not to mention the financial devastation that was visited on my family and I'm sure the Spence-Jones household as well.

If you're fortunate enough to have your criminal case either dismissed or go to trial and be acquitted, everyone tells you to be happy, put it behind you and go on your way and try the best you can to put your life back together.  That's really tough to stomach as a victim of a wrongful or malicious prosecution, how can you sit back and have your life be ruined and then not want to get revenge when you're vindicated?  Even worse, when people tell you that you should be thankful to the state attorneys office for dismissing the charges against you?  WTF?  Luckily, our friend Michelle Spence-Jones wasn't having any part of that nonsense and yesterday she took the first step in finding justice and punishing those who tried to destroy her by filing this lawsuit in federal court...

Michelle Spence-jones Lawsuit Against Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Tomas Regalado

Take the time and read the complaint, it's incredible.  Someone has finally memorialized what we have all known to be true here in Miami, that there is a political mob that runs this town that all work together to cover each other and to go after what they perceive as common enemies.  More on this later, as I believe that this lawsuit speaks directly to several of the cases that we've been writing about recently.

Also, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you who both publicly and privately have sent me messages regarding the passing of my father.  I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that there are people out there who I've never even met, let alone know, that took time out of their day to think about me.  Thank you friends, you guys are the reason that I keep moving forward.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The police chief speaks out!

Or so we're to believe.  Someone using the user name "OMC" made a post over at the Leo Affairs website under the thread title "The Chief is in really deep $hit!", it reads as follows:

Re: The chief is really in deep $hit!

Postby OMC » 11/29/12 23:15:24
No, I am not! I am not going anywhere either, and IF the honorable mayor and commissioners want to force the incoming manager to fire me, go ahead and pay my exit! Until then, I am staying right here, doing what I do best . . . serving and protecting the citizens of South Miami.

No kidding?  If we are to believe that the person who made this post was indeed embattled City of South Miami police chief Orlando Martinez de Castro, this would make it the first public comment by the chief regarding the ongoing scandal that has arisen from the ethics investigation stemming from the alleged steering of city business to his wife's tag agency.

We also also have a hearing to look forward to this morning in the criminal case that is still pending against the chief's wife's three former tellers from her tag agency that were alleged to have stolen tens of thousands of dollars.  From all indications, the case is quickly falling apart as we speak and I'm told that if it does go to trial, it will do so within the next week.

On another note, I think it only fair to our readers for me to mention that I have been out of the loop since last Wednesday, my father passed away unexpectedly and I've been preoccupied dealing with his death and spending time with my family.  I'll do my best to keep up with the most recent developments with our stories but if you see that I don't post for a few days here and there at least you'll know why.

Till next time!