21 hours ago
Doral police chief says department will continue to pursue false-report cases
By Joey Flechas
The Miami Herald
Two days after the State Attorney’s Office dropped charges against two men accused of filing a false police report in Doral, the city’s police chief said his department will continue to take such cases seriously.
In a news conference held at Doral police headquarers, Chief Richard Blom said he didn’t want residents to get the message that people can get away with lying to police and wasting investigators’ time with false claims.
“We’re bound by the statutes to enforce this,” he told reporters Wednesday. “I think it’s a serious offense. I and the police department of Doral are going to continue to aggressively look at these cases and send them to the State Attorney.”
He cited a move by the Florida Legislature this year to up the seriousness of the crime for repeat offenders in these types of cases. As of Oct 1., those who have already been convicted of giving a false report to law enforcement will be charged with a third-degree felony if they do it again.
“If we don’t prosecute these guys here, there’ll never be convicted of the offense, and it’ll never be a felony,” Blom said.
Juan Carlos Tovar Barrios, a Venezuelan developer, and his employee, Javier Bellon, were accused of lying to police when they accused Doral City Manager Joe Carollo of physically and verbally accosting Tovar during a City Council meeting in September. Bellon had told police he had witnessed the altercation.
The council had just given the go-ahead to a controversial development project owned by Tovar called IVI Doral. The project had intially been partly owned by the adult children of Doral Mayor Luigi Boria. Boria had given his children millions to buy their share of the land.
Later on, in sworn statements to police, Tovar and Bellon gave conflicting stories after a surveillance video came to light that showed no physical altercation between Tovar and Carollo.
Ed Griffith, spokesman for State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, pointed to the closeout memo filed last weekend by special prosecutor Johnette Hardiman when saying his office applies the same standards to every case.
“Every case stands or falls on the sufficiency of the evidence in the case,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
According to the memo, the case had to be dismissed in order “to treat these civilians as we would any other civilians similarly situated.” Hardiman also wrote: “Had the city manager not been involved, the case would not have been given the scrutiny and intense police work that it was given.”
Hardiman also noted that Doral police intially recorded the allegations against Carollo in the form of an “incident report” and not as a criminal-battery case.
“The original intent was simply to document an incident,” she wrote.
Blom said Doral police faced another recent case where a resident admitted to lying to police during an investigation into a traffic accident. According to a Doral police memo, Hardiman dccided not to file charges in that case, as well.
Blom said the department won’t tolerate false reports, and he cited news reports of police departments in other states arresting individuals for making false statements to police.
For example, 28-year-old Timothy Daniel was arrested in November in Savannah, Ga., after police say he lied about being assaulted, robbed at gunpoint, and tied up in his home in September. Authorities concluded tha Daniel had been dishonest after a two-month investigation.
Doral police Captain Joe Seiglie added that the department loses man hours that could be dedicated to real investigations.
“That’s a cost to taxpayers,” he said.
In the memorandum addressed to chief assistant state attorney José Arrojo, Hardiman explained that the case had to be dismissed in order to “treat these civilians as we would any other civilians similarly situated.”
She added: “Had the city manager not been involved, the case would not have been given the scrutiny and intense police work that it was given.”
In a phone interview late Monday, Hardiman said that she also took into account the fact that Doral police initially documented Tovar’s allegations against Carollo as an “incident report,” and not as a criminal battery case that needed to be investigated.
Carollo said he disagreed with the reasoning and referenced a letter sent by Tovar’s lawyer a day after the alleged incident, saying that his client “was threatened and physically accosted by the city manager” and may sue the city.
He said the decision to drop the case was “political” and connected to his sour relationship with state attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle.
“This has to do with her personal prejudice against me,” said Carollo, a vocal critic of the state attorney in recent years.
Shortly after Tovar’s arrest, the city manager added, he asked Fernández Rundle to recuse herself from the case. Carollo said he didn’t believe she could fairly prosecute the case because he helped run her opponent’s campaign in last year’s race for state attorney.
Fernández Rundle declined to comment on Carollo’s statements on Monday.
“She feels that the closeout memo is exceptionally clear, well-reasoned and thorough,” said her spokesperson, Ed Griffith, in an email to El Nuevo Herald. “Additional comment would only dilute the facts.”
You need to also look at the City of Miami for the same scheme. Back in 2010, Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Gort were trying to donate Police cruisers to the City of Sweetwater. The former Purchasing Director objected to the donation and recommended that these vehicles be publicly auctioned off and if the City of Sweetwater were so interested they could do by participating and acquiring it through a competitive process. At that time, then City Manager Carlos Migoya publicly attacked the former Purchasing Director during the City Commission Meeting held on 2/25/10. If you get the minutes, you will see for yourself. They got rid of the Purchasing Director because he was too honest and ethical. This has been an on-going scheme of vehicles being donated and then sold for profit. Get the minutes and see for yourself.
Sincerely,No kidding? Vehicles donated then sold for profit? I wonder if that's the case over at Sweetwater? After all, if they really wanted the cars for parts, like the North Observer said, why wouldn't they just buy them at auction rather than go begging for them and leave themselves wide open to ridicule and this kind of speculation? Furthermore, the letter from our last post where then mayor of Sweetwater, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, asks for the cars for parts to keep their fleet of cars going makes no sense whatsoever as the labor cost of swapping the engines far outweighs what the cars are worth. Also, one must consider what value a high mile drive train has coming out of a car that's been retired from a police department because of it's age and high miles?
Liebman stated, "Commissioner Welsh is responsible for distributing another racist flyer featuring Dr. Price as the Queen of Spades, three monkeys representing three Black commissioners, and the Star Spangled Banner which was written in Ebonics".
"Mr. Welsh distributed the flyer of the three monkeys".