Is there something in the drinking water?
So-called hoaxes by elected officials have been rampant in South Florida, most of them involving real estate developers and a handful of mayors.
That’s nothing new for Miami, according to condo market consultant and former journalist Peter Zalewski. The magic of “Magic City” — as Miami is nicknamed — is that developers’ money fills the coffers of city officials, Zalewski said.
“In the 30 years I’ve been in Miami, corruption has been part of the process,” Zalewski said. “Corruption happens because government officials earn a fraction of what developers and industry insiders earn.”
As Zalewski puts it, the “latest generation” is involved in corruption ranging from Hollywood to Coral Gables.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, an attorney, is said to have earned at least $170,000 over the past two years as an advisor to developer Rishi Kapoor’s Location Ventures, which has a project in the city’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, it said. miami herald. This prompted an investigation by the Ethics and State Attorneys.
Suarez, a lawyer, earns $97,000 a year as mayor and receives a $33,000 fee stipend from the city.
As it turned out last week, Suarez wasn’t the only person allegedly paying South Florida Mayor Kapoor.
- Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago indirectly benefited from Kapoor’s company, Location Ventures. Lago is an investor in the retail building leased by Kapoor’s Location Ventures, across the street from Location Ventures’ proposed luxury condos on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Location Ventures is paying more than $12,000 a month for the space, which has been vacant since a lease was signed last year, the Herald reported. Location Ventures said it plans to use the space as a sales gallery.
Lago, the real estate agent who revoked Rosa Commercial Real Estate’s license, has abstained from voting on issues related to the Kapoor project, but his investment in the building was previously unknown.Largo is also embroiled in another legal battle real deal He addressed the issue earlier this year, reported last month. His salary as mayor is about $45,000.
Lago joined the brokerage a few months after Coral Gables-based Rosa Commercial Real Estate brokered Kapoor’s $35.5 million purchase of the Ponce de Leon property, which closed late last year, the Herald reported. The agency is led by former Hialeah Councilman Oscar de la Rosa, stepfather of current Hialeah Mayor Esteban “Steve” Bovo. Bovo is also a licensed real estate agent for his son’s company.
In an unrelated saga in the city of Miami, a years-long legal battle between real estate investors Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla and Miami Commissioner Joe Carolo ended in a Fort Lauderdale jury in favor of Little Havana. developer ended up.
- Fuller and Pinilla were awarded more than $63 million in damages alleging that Carollo engaged in retaliatory harassment against them and their businesses. The jury found that former mayor Carolo violated the First Amendment rights of Fuller and Pinilla. The city of Miami previously agreed to pay Carrollo’s now nearly $2 million in legal fees.
It’s unclear how much Fuller and Pinilla were able to collect. Last weekend, Fuller and Pinilla hosted a party at Ball & Chain to celebrate the ruling. Their decorations include paper-printed cockroaches with Carolo’s face on them that guests will step on. Outside the courthouse last week, Fuller said it felt great to “finally beat that alligator!” Another lawsuit, filed by Fuller and Pinilla’s Mad Room Hospitality against the city of Miami, is still pending.
Additionally, another former mayor and a current mayor face charges in unrelated cases.
- Former Plantation Mayor Vera-Lynn Stoner turned herself in, charged with one count of official misconduct and falsification of records, and two counts of influencing building officials. The Broward County State Attorney’s Office said Stoner was illegally trying to help Invesca Development Group advance its projects. During his tenure as mayor, Stoner sent a letter from the mayor’s office falsely claiming that an Invesca affiliate had violated the code when it allegedly tried to help the company secure a loan. Stoner, who plans to plead not guilty at her arraignment, is also accused of persuading a plantation construction official to allow the developer to build its project without proper permits.
- North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo, a real estate broker and property manager, has been charged with three counts of voter fraud for allegedly using a North Miami Beach address where he no longer lives in his old district to vote. DeFillipo was a pivotal vote for the Dezer family’s planned megadevelopment in the city, which is also under investigation by the county’s ethics board. He allegedly violated the North Miami Beach charter, which requires elected officials to reside in the city. The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office used cellphone data to prove their point, showing that DeFillipo spent many, many nights in 2022 in David, where he and his wife purchased a new home.
Zalewski compiled a list of former commissioners and other elected officials who have faced charges or been convicted of crimes over the decades.These include former Miami Beach Mayor Alex Daoud, who was convicted on bribery charges in the early 1990s, and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruce KaplanHe resigned in 1998 as part of a plea bargain related to a mortgage fraud investigation.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Is every city’s planning and zoning department set up to satisfy what they call a corrupt need?'” he said. “This happens all the time. Will any of these politicians be held accountable?”