Thursday, June 28, 2012

Former City of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito loses round one in his bid to get his job back...

I'm sure you've all heard by now that former City of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito has lost his appeal to get his job back before a panel of three circuit court judges.  The opinion was written by none other than circuit court judge Valerie Manno Schurr, check it out...

Expositio Circuit Court Decision

That's all well and good, I don't necessarily agree with the courts findings and I'm sure former chief Exposito will be taking his case to a higher court.

Valerie Manno Schurr
So how about the judge who wrote this opinion, the honorable Valerie Manno Schurr?  From what I've been able to glean from various sources, her rulings have been reversed by higher courts in 45% of her cases that have been appealed.  You have to ask yourself, what kind of judge gets nearly half of her rulings that are taken to appeal reversed?  Does that seem like the hallmark of a judge that knows what shes doing?  Take a look at some of these excerpts from various appeal court rulings against Manno Shurr and judge for yourself...
“the trial court violated a clearly established principle of law and departed from the essential elements of law by indefinitely staying this action.”
“There is no competent evidence on either ground adopted by the trial court to support its conclusion..."
“trial court abused its discretion...”
“we conclude that the circuit court appellate division departed from the essential requirements of the law and deprived State Farm of due process.”
Isn't that special considering that part of Exposito's appeal hinged on "due process"?

As if all that weren't enough, here comes the icing on the cake, everyone remember the two foster kids that were adopted by the Barahona family that were tortured by their foster parents where one sibling was found dead on the side of the road bathed in acid while the other was on the verge of dying? These poor kids suffered untold beatings at the hands of their foster parents, when their biological family tried to take the kids away from their foster parents before the gruesome roadside incident that we all watched unfold on TV, guess who was the judge who denied their pleas and kept the poor kids with their foster parents? You guessed it...
Judge Manno-Schurr denied the children a chance at a safe, normal life when she turned away pleas in 2007 to adopt the twins from their biological uncle and aunt, Isidro and Ana Reyes. Ana is the sister of the father of the twins. They told Judge Manno-Schurr that they could take care of the children, and provided references and financial statements to prove their worthiness.
Yet, Judge Manno-Schurr said no, preferring to keep the siblings in the foster care of the Barahonas. The DCF says that decision was “based on an incorrect assumption by all professionals involved in the case that it would be harmful for children of this age to experience a change in parents.”
When asked why Judge Manno-Schurr didn’t listen to the Reyes couple, their attorney, Steven Grossbard, said, “That is a piece of the puzzle that is not clear to me to this day, and I find it somewhat troubling.”
I guess you can tell by now that I'm somewhat disappointed by the courts ruling in the Exposito case, disappointed but not surprised. Considering the track record of the judge heading the panel, I expected no less. No worries though, I'm sure considering former Chief Exposito's tenacity and Judge Manno Schurr stellar record on appeal, Expo will be back again, take my word for it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The ethics commission issues a questionable ruling...

Bicycle Bob Welsh
While we're waiting for the Miami Dade County Ethics Commission to conclude their investigation and issue a ruling in the case of the City of South Miami's police chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro, steering business to his wife's auto tag agency, the ethics commission issued a ruling involving another matter from the City of South Miami.  From the press release yesterday...
Settlement reached with South Miami Commissioner
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) has reached a settlement after probable cause was found last month that South Miami City Commissioner Robert Welsh violated the County Ethics Code. The complaint (C 12-25) alleged that the commissioner, who was elected in February, spoke with two bidders in April about a pending city contract while the proposals were still under consideration, which is prohibited by procurement rules.  As part of the settlement agreed to today, Commissioner Welsh will pay $250 in investigative costs and accept a Letter of Instruction.
No shit?  City of South Miami commissioner Robert Welsh got in trouble for simply speaking to two bidders that had pending bids on a city project?  YIKES!  Is this an example of a commissioner who really did something wrong or simply a matter of a South Florida politician that isn't plugged into "the machine" that routinely gives its members a free pass when brought before the ethics commission or the state attorneys office?  In my humble oppinion, I'd suggest the latter.  From what I know about Robert "Bicycle Bob" Welsh, he seems to be one of the only politicians in South Florida that genuinely has his constituents needs, wants and desires at the forefront of his agenda.  I honestly believe that this finding by the ethics commission is a travesty that's stained an otherwise untarnished record by Mr. Welsh.

Regardless, considering this finding against Commissioner Welsh for violating the county ethics code, how do you think they're going to rule against South Miami's police chief for sending city business to his wife's tag agency?  Considering that there is a clearly defined punishement for such behavior in the city's own ethics code, I have to wonder.  In case you've forgotten, take a look at the consequences of the Chief's behavior...
(c)Prohibition on transacting business with the city. No person included in the terms defined in paragraphs (b)(1) through (6) and in paragraph (b)(9) shall enter into any contract or transact any business in which that person or a member of the immediate family has a financial interest, direct or indirect with the city or any person or agency acting for the city, and any such contract, agreement or business engagement entered in violation of this subsection shall render the transaction voidable. Willful violation of this subsection shall constitute malfeasance in office and shall effect forfeiture of office or position.
Now, does anyone really think the chief is going to lose his job over this ethical lapse?  You'd be foolish to think so.  Like I mentioned before, it all comes down to whether or not you're part of the "the machine" and I can certainly guarantee you that the chief is part of that "machine".  I honestly doubt the ethics commission is going to find anything wrong with the chief's behavior but then again perhaps the publicity we've brought to the investigation and the process involved with reaching a ruling, maybe we'll be surprised.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The slam dunk case against the Airways Auto Tag Agency tellers...

It's been a while since we've discussed the Airways Auto Tag case, so let's do a brief rundown of the case...
Ok, that pretty much sums up where we left off a few months back.  To be perfectly honest though, we stopped writing about the case hoping that once a new prosecutor was assigned to the case after the previous prosecutor tried to get the tellers bonds revoked, the charges against the tellers were going to be dismissed.  Unfortunately, it didn't happen, so it seems like it's time to start shedding some light on this case again.

The crux of the states case against the three girls that were charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from this tag agency was that once the individual transactions were processed, the tellers would later go back and cancel said transactions using their access codes in both the state system and the tag agencies internal computer systems and then pocket the money.  Fairly simple right?  In essence, by virtue of the tellers logging into the state and tag agency computers, they would leave an electronic fingerprint on all the transactions that would make it easy to identify who initiated the transactions and cancelled the transactions.  Simple enough, that is until we proved that there were several people that knew these so called "confidential passwords" the tellers used in the tag agency's computer system.

Now, in order to be perfectly clear, let's go through how the state proposes one of these transactions occurred:

  1. First, the teller in question logs into the State of Florida computer system (that only the individual teller knows the password to) then processes the transaction.
  2. Second, the teller in question logs into the tag agency's internal computer system (the one that the tag agency owner led the state to believe that only the tellers knew the passwords to that we later proved that several other people knew the passwords to) then processes the transaction generating a receipt for the customer.
  3. At some point either later that day or early the next day, said teller logs back into the tag agency's computer system and cancels the transaction then subsequently pockets the money.

Fairly simple scheme right?  Now one thing we know for certain, the individual tellers are the only ones that know their passwords for the state of Florida computer system, no one else.  While we know that several other people that had access to the tag agency's computers other than the tellers that were arrested and that the owner of the tag agency also owns the company that wrote the accounting software and therefore had access to the tellers confidential access codes, the tellers are the only ones that could log into the state's system and generate receipts with their user ID's on them.  That's a really important point as we're about to discover, take a look at some excerpts from the receipts generated by the states computer system that were given to the state as part of the discovery in this case, specifically, pay attention to the initials outlined in red...

Now, for the sake of our discussion, I've omitted the rest of the receipt that contains an innocent customers personal information.  What's important here are the three letters that I've outlined in red as they identify the person who logged into the state's computer system and created these transactions.  In the instance of these two transactions, the identifying initials, IJM, don't belong to any of the tellers that were arrested, they belong to none other than Ileana Josefina Martinez de Castro, the owner of the tag agency and the City of South Miami's police chief's wife who claimed that tens of thousands of dollars were missing through the tellers nefarious schemes.  Remember that when it comes to the states computer system, only the person who is assigned the password knows their password, so if you're to believe the state's theory of this case, how did the owner of the tag agency processing these transactions fit in to there version of events?  Even worse, how did the dipshit detective who investigated this case not realize this horrendous error in his investigation?

While this revelation of the owner of the tag agency having her "electronic fingerprint" on some of the transactions in question doesn't absolve the three tellers that were charged of any guilt, it certainly does call into question the investigative work that ultimately culminated with the arrests of the three tag agency employees.  The same "electronic fingerprint" the detective used to build his case against the three tellers he arrested could have been used to implicate the owner of the tag agency!  WTF?

I'm getting sick and tired of writing about this stupid case.  Three innocent women are stuck dealing with this bullshit while the state takes its time fucking around.  More tomorrow.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Heat FTW!

Does anything else really matter today?!  Here are some photos from outside the AA arena after the Heat's victory in last nights NBA finals...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

So what happened to the ethics investigation we initiated?

Joe Centorino
A while back after we stumbled upon the incestuous relationship between the City of South Miami and it's police chief's wife's business, we just happened to be over at the Miami Dade County Ethics Commission where we discussed how the city was doing business with an auto tag agency that was owned by the police chief's wife.  During my meeting with the head of the Ethics Commission, Joe Centorino, we were assured that they were going to look into the matter immediately and get to the bottom of what was going on.  

Although it's been several months since the investigation began, after repeated emails and phone calls, I was never able to get a definitive answer as to the status of the investigation.  The first problem with the investigation arose when I found out that the investigator assigned to the case was a personal friend and former colleague of the City of South Miami's city manager, Hector Mirabile.  So much for a fair investigation right?  After all, how could we expect anything other than a bullshit result when the investigator was in cahoots with the city manager who appointed the very police chief that was being investigated for wrong doing?  Regardless, about a month into the investigation, I received word that the investigator was removed from the case and a new one was assigned who hopefully didn't have any ties to the people that were at the center of the investigation.

With that said, I finally got word yesterday from the lead investigator on the case that indeed the case was still open and is going forward.  I take that with a grain of salt as I have no idea what the Ethics Commissions findings are to date regarding this matter.  If their past findings in similar cases are any indication, I wouldn't get my hopes up but at least we know that even if they don't find anything wrong with the city doing business with the police chief's wife's business, at least we're beginning to peel back the layers of previously unreported graft and corruption and expose those involved.

Now on another note, I'm sure most of you are aware of the hotly contested race for the Miami Dade State Attorneys Office between incumbent Kathy Rundle and her challenger Rod Vereen.  The Miami Herald conducted an informal debate between the two candidates the other day, while I can't embed the video, take a look at this link that takes you to the Herald page with the video.  The video is worth watching, if nothing else for the subtle jabs that the two candidates take at each other.

Now, on to more serious business, our Miami Heat are one win away from winning the NBA finals, it's going to be a long night tonight.  With that said, GO HEAT!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It's been tough couple of weeks, overloaded with work, NBA finals destroying my schedule, all in all not too much time to dedicate to our humble blog.  With that said, where are we at?  We've covered the "maquinita" story to the point of exhaustion, so lets take a break for a few days and follow up on some of our other stories.

Everyone remember the Airways Auto Tag story?  In case you've forgotten, that's the case where three employees from a tag agency owned by the City of South Miami's police chief's wife were arrested for allegedly stealing tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars from the tiny tag agency located near Hialeah.  Our investigation into the story led to us uncovering the City of South Miami doing business with the Chief's wife's tag agency which just happened to be against the city's code of ethics ultimately leading to an ethics investigation into the city's incesttual relationship with the chief's wife's tag agency.  So what's happened to the three girls since they got arrested last year?  How about that ethics investigation into how the City of South Miami ended up doing business with the Chief's wife?

We're going to follow up tomorrow and I promise, we're going to destroy the case against the innocent tellers that were railroaded by a corrupt, moronic detective and a lying business owner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What happened to Dade county's fight against the maquinitas?

While we're all well aware of the maquinita saga within the City of Miami, what happened to the ongoing war against the illegal gaming machines at the county level?  About a year ago the Miami Dade County Police department conducted an extensive undercover investigation where they placed undercover cops in various shops where these gaming machines were and actually had them play till they won and were subsequently paid their winnings in cash which ultimately led to the arrest of the owners of the establishments.  This was a big step forward in the fight against the "maquinitas" as this investigation was free and clear of any political motivations that were alleged to have caused the war between the various political factions within the City of Miami.  From the Miami Herald article which I can't seem to find online any more...
“The timing of our investigations is based upon the complexity of the case and our interaction with partner agencies, period,” said Miami-Dade police Cmdr. Nancy Perez, a spokeswoman. “Our investigations are not influenced by political considerations.”
What MDPD commander Nancy Perez was referring to was the timing of this case in reference to the then county mayoral elections following the ousting of Mayor Carlos Alvarez.  Shortly after these arrests were made, I actually went out and met with the undercover cops who made this case, at the time they were worried that if Julio Robaina was elected county mayor that there work against these gaming machines was going to be cut off as it was well known that Robaina was backed by the maquinita industry.  On the other hand, they were convinced that if Carlos Gimenez was elected they were going to keep going balls to the walls in their fight against the maquinita rackets, once again from the Miami Herald article...
One day after the Bird Road raid, Gimenez lambasted Robaina’s support of the gaming industry, calling for a police task force to combat the industry. “The citizens of this community have spoken against this illegal activity,” Gimenez said in a press release. “Today, I stand with the people of this community and with law enforcement in denouncing this delinquent activity.”
Gimenez went further on Michael Putney's show on channel 10 and said...
“If I were mayor, I’d definitely propose an ordinance to outlaw them throughout Miami-Dade County...Because frankly, Michael, I believe that there’s organized crime behind this.” 
That sounds fantastic, doesn't it?  We were all convinced that upon his election, Gimenez was going to come out punching against the maquinitas and their owners, so what's happened nearly a year later?  As far as I can tell, NOTHING!  One of my sources tells me that since Gimenez was elected, the unit that was making these cases was scaled back, citing budget issues, and it's members have been subsequently reassigned to other cases.  Does that make any sense?  If our new county mayor was really out to get the people behind these machines, then what the hell happened?  Remember, Mayor Gimenez went so far as to publicly proclaim that he believed that "there's organized crime behind this", so what gives?  Gimenez gets elected and all of a sudden the crusade against the machines and their owners goes quiet?

Furthurmore, the judge presiding over this particular case seemed to see through all the defense's bullshit arguments...
“We can go around and around all day long. In my opin­ion, what’s going on is not an amuse­ment game. It’s not an amuse­ment ma­ch­ine; it’s gambling,”
So what happened?  The cops did their work, made their case and the subsequent arrests, the judge hearing the case seemed on board, at this point it's all left to the state attorneys office.  We'll dig around and see what we can find out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Liar, liar, pants on fire! The consequences of lying to the court...

I'm sure that by now you've all heard that George Zimmerman's wife has been arrested for perjury stemming from the misrepresentation of her and her husbands financial status to the court during her husbands bond hearing in the Trayvon Martin murder case.  There's a comprehensive article here from the AP.

I don't necessarily disagree with this arrest as I believe that lying to the court or in any other instance when under oath should be punished severely. Here are some notable quotes from the article...
“Prosecutors sent a strong message that you have to tell the truth in court, because it is the whole basis of the judicial system,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who spent weeks pushing for Zimmerman’s arrest in the Feb. 26 killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. “The credibility of each witness is always at the crux of every legal case,” added Crump, who represents Trayvon’s parents.
When Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester learned of the scheme earlier this month, he revoked Zimmerman’s bond. Another bond hearing is scheduled for June 29. George Zimmerman “does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process,” Lester wrote.
That last bit really resonates with me, that part about respecting the law or the integrity of the judicial process and "the credibility of each witness is always at the crux of every legal case", yet why does it seem that it's always the defendant that's getting punished for perjury?  When attorney Crump says "Prosecutors sent a strong message that you have to tell the truth in court...", he doesn't discriminate between who has to tell the truth in court.  How many instances have we seen over the last several years where prosecutors, cops or state's witnesses have been perjuring themselves under oath?  How about the fiasco before Judge Bloom in the Airways Auto Tag case when the state attorneys office brought forth a witness who gave a sworn statement saying that the three defendants were harassing her in violation of their pretrial release in an effort to get their bond revoked and have them thrown in jail?  In that case the witness recanted her statement and admitted to lying to the court.  Think of the consequences for the defendants if the defense attorneys didn't expose the witness, all three defendants would have had their bond revoked and would have had to sit in jail till trial, yet somehow there were no consequences to this witnesses actions.

Even worse, how many times have we seen prosecutors and cops lying to the court?  Here we have our very own favorite crooked prosecutor, Bill Kostrzewski, lying to the court under oath during on of the many hearings in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case,  yet here we are several years later without a single perjury charge leveled against him.

Woodward Brooks
What about when there's a dishonest cop that lies under oath?  If and when they do get caught, the punishment seems minimal, a few years back we discussed the case of Surfside cop Woodward Brooks who had a nasty habit of writing fake police reports to help his friends defraud insurance companies.  That's a pretty serious charge, you'd think that considering the magnitude of the allegations against him, this guy was going to do a pretty serious stretch in the big house.  I had all but forgotten about Mr. Brooks since I figured his conviction was a forgone conclusion, that is till I checked his docket and found that despite the seriousness of his crimes, he'd gotten probation!

So what's the takeaway from all this perjury business?  Make sure you don't lie to the court, that is unless you're prosecutor or a cop!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

City of Miami vs. North Korea, how much bullshit can we swallow?

If you're going to believe all the nonsense the citizens of Miami keep getting fed by the powers that be, you might as well believe this page out of a North Korean textbook...

Is it really that outrageous?  Think about it for a moment, what's more nonsensical, a magic hummingbird foretelling the birth of Kim Jong Il or our Mayor, Tomas Regalado, expecting us to believe that the ubiquitous gaming machines that litter every corner of Miami being used for nothing more than "amusement purposes"?  Or what's more believable, Kim Jong Il walking out of his mothers vagina six months premature or the Maquinita owners operating out in the open right in front of the police?!  

If that isn't enough, there's always Kim Jong Il's golf game, according to North Korean government, he was the best golfer the world has ever seen...
In 1994, Pyongyang media reported that Kim Jong-il shot an amazing 11 holes-in-one to achieve an unprecedented 38-under-par game on a regulation 18-hole golf course - on his first try at golf.

Reports say each of his 17 bodyguards verified the record-breaking feat.
Honestly, that sounds far more believable than the City of Miami sabotaging their own case when the maquinita owners sued to get their machines back, instead of paying for and submitting the expert witness's report to the court, they decided not to pay the expert for his report therefore dooming any chance they had at winning the case!

Now we come to my favorite part, political legitimacy...

Considering the amount of voter fraud that runs rampant through our community, what with the absentee ballot fraud, dead people voting, old people being swindled out of their votes, etc, does a 13 million to one landslide in a North Korean election really sound that crazy?  HARDLY!  The only part of this excerpt that seems slightly unbelievable is the part where lone dissenter was beaten to death by an angry mob using chickens, this scenario seems far more likely here in Miami.

Honestly, based on everything we've seen in the past few years alone, does anyone think that either of the Regalado political hacks have any more legitimacy than our deceased North Korean friend?

Seriously, while this North Korean history book is more than likely a joke, the state of affairs in our city isn't.  We've only touched upon a few outrageous facts about the recent goings on regarding our lovely city and the recent maquinita scandal, our friend Al Crespo delves deeper into the maquinita story on his blog today.

Tomorrow, we'll take a break from our City of Miami stories and see what's going on with the Airways Auto Tag Agency case.  Wouldn't it be interesting if there was some sort of link between the auto tag agency story, the City of South Miami and the maquinita's?

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's Friday...

So where are we at?  We read yesterday that the last of the seven fatal City of Miami police shootings that happened under former chief Miguel Exposito's watch was ruled to be a justified shooting by the state attorneys office therefore nullifying the media's assertion that Exposito's department was a predatory killing machine that targeted black men from the city's district five.  Furthermore our friend Al Crespo highlights the fact that the City PD's moral is at an all time low under the new chief's administration and in case you forgot, crime is also up 10.7% under the new chief's administration.

With all that said, while we sit here and wait for a three judge panel to decide whether or not the firing of former City of Miami Police Chief was legal or not,  let's not lose sight of the fact that the Miami Heat came from behind and clobbered the Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference finals and that at least there was never a man eating zombie attack under Chief Exposito's watch...

Back to our regular fare on Monday...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Exposito appeal hearing...

I'd like to preface today's post by saying I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to transferring audio recordings off my phone to my computer then on to YouTube.  I have to admit, I've been trying to do this for nearly a week with little to no success, that is till last night when I finally managed to upload all 35 minutes of the hearing to YouTube.

While the various media outlets had there own interpretation of what went on at the hearing, now you can listen to it yourselves and draw your own conclusions.  Although I've uploaded the recordings to YouTube, there are no videos, just audio.  First we'll start with Exposito attorney Steven Wisotsky's opening argument...

Now you'll hear City of Miami assistant attorney John Greco make the case for the city...

And last but not least attorney Wisotsky's rebuttal before the three judge panel...

So there you have it.  We'll discuss tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to fire a police chief in the City of Miami...

With all the dispute recently regarding former City of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito appealing the city commissions decision to fire him, I think it's important to take a look at one of Exposito's main arguments for getting his job back, the fact that the commission didn't convene and render judgement in the time period specified by the City of Miami Charter Section 26.
First, let's take a look at the city charter...

Miguel Exposito City of Miami Charter Section 26
Specifically, the most important part is as follows...

Sec. 26- Suspension and removal of chief of police and fire chief.
The city manager shall have the exclusive right to suspend the chief of police and fire chief for incompetence, neglect of duty, immorality, drunkenness, failure to obey orders given by proper authority, or for any other just and reasonable cause.  If either of such chiefs be so suspended the city manager shall forthwith certify the fact, together with the cause of suspension, to the commission who within five (5) days from the date of receipt of such notice, shall proceed to hear such charges and render judgement thereon, which judgement shall be final.

That bit of the city charter is one of the main arguments that Exposito and his legal team are using to invalidate the city commission's ruling against him...

...the commission who within five (5) days from the date of receipt of such notice, shall proceed to hear such charges and render judgement thereon...

There's very little room for interpretation there, once the commissions notified of the suspension, they have five days to hold a hearing and render judgement.  Simple right?  So simple that during the termination hearing, City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, who happens to be an attorney, even went so far as to say that if the chief didn't agree with the commissions findings, he could go back appeal and be reinstated because the commission didn't abide by section 26 of the city charter.  So wtf?  Aren't these rules in place for a reason?  Strictly based on the letter of the law, Mr Exposito should be entitled to get his job back since the commission didn't convene and render judgement within the five day period as outlined in the charter.  Whether the court who heard his case last week will rule in his favor or not is a different story.

I'm currently trying to upload my recordings of last weeks hearing online, if I'm successful we'll get to hear first hand both Exposito and the City of Miami's arguments k;in this case.