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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

JULY 30, 2012

THE STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE MUGS EXPOSITO WITH A HELPING HAND FROM MIAMI HERALD
JUSTICE DENIED
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As usual, I have uploaded the State Attorney’s Close Out Memo, the official City policy on Severance Payments in 2011, copies of the 13 transcripts of the recordings made by former Chief Exposito, along with the July 14, 2011 City Commission video. They are all available for your review, and the transcripts and the Close Out Memo are PDF’s that can be downloaded by clicking HERE.


HOW THE STORY BEGAN


On June 29, 2011, I wrote a story based on documents that I had been provided secretly where I alleged that an attempt had been made in January of 2011 to bribe then Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito.


The attempt was made in an effort to end the growing battle between him and Mayor Tomas Regalado over the issue of the illegal video gambling machines that had - and continue to be - fixtures in many bodegas, Laundromats and convenience stores in the city.


HOW THE STORY ENDED


On July 25, 2012, Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle, wrote a story based on the Close Out Memo provided by the State Attorney’s Office, that made it appear that Exposito was little more than an out of control loose cannon, “trying to set up the administration.”


In the most damning, and factually untrue part of the story, Ovalle quotes Mayor Tomas Regalado saying, “The memo and the taped conversations show that he was the one that asked us for the money.”...“He was the one that wanted to set the different terms and not pay taxes.  I hope people will see who he really is.”


You can always count on the Miami Herald’s editors to engage in character assignation when it suits their political purposes, and this story, in light of their recent endorsement of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle for another 4 year term, has to be considered as nothing more than a political payback for Regalado and Fernandez-Rundle, both of whom had reason to discredit Exposito.


WHAT THE STATE ATTORNEY DIDN’T INVESTIGATE AND THE HERALD DIDN’T TELL YOU


A lot of things happened between June 29, 2011 and July 25, 2012, and the first thing you need to know in order to appreciate just what kind of game was played between Fernandez-Rundle, and the Miami Herald, is that the Close Out Memo that was the basis for Ovalle’s story was purposely released on July 25 for a reason.


The Close Out Memo was actually finished on Thursday, July 19th.

The memo could have been released anytime after that date, but it was purposely released on the 25th in an attempt to deflect attention away from the Federal Court ruling that came out that same day, denying the efforts of Fernandez-Rundle supporters, Armando Lacasa - the same Armando Lacasa, whose son has the sub-lease on Vero’s By The Bay -  and Vincent Mazzilli, to get the judge to overturn the State Election’s Commission to close the primary to Democratic voters only.


The ploy succeeded. A Google search revealed that all of the anglo TV stations finally got around to reporting the Exposito story - using the Herald as their source - while WFOR- Channel 4, was the only local station that reported the election story.


To appreciate how this happens, here are the Google search results for the Exposito story.

Here are the results for the Federal Court decision on the election results.

Thanks to Google, today, you can now see in almost real time the effects of how a news story can be managed to deflect attention away from another news story when the need arrises.


THEY MUST GIVE CLASSES ON HOW TO WRITE POLITICALLY SLANTED AND BIASED CLOSE OUT MEMOS


On July 16th, I deconstructed the Close Out Memo issued by the State Attorney’s office in the David Rivera case.  Prior to that, I had also deconstructed the Close Out Memo in the case where Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff had run across the street and physically attacked Reid Welch.


All of these Close Out Memos, including this latest one on Chief Exposito, reveal a number of similarities, starting with how badly these memos were written, and revealing how the conclusions often don’t correspond to the evidence.


Of course, for years very few folks in the news media ever bothered to get past the Close Out Memo and actually request the source material such as investigative reports, depositions and other supporting material to conduct their own analysis, and even fewer folks who cover the crime beat know much about criminal law, or how the system actually works.


The kind of institutional memory that was an integral part of any good reporter’s skill set went by the wayside when newspapers quit sending young reporters to cover the courts as a way to season them as reporters, and allow them to learn how the system worked.


So today, a State Attorney who operates with a naked political agenda, like Fernandez-Rundle has been doing now for some time, can just about get away with murder - in a figurative sense - because “reporters” either don’t know, or sadly, as in the Miami Herald’s case, don’t want to know anything more than the information required to slant the story the way it needs to be slanted accommodate the paper’s political agenda.


NEVER LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY


If your only information about the attempt to bribe Chief Exposito was the State Attorney’s Close Out Memo, you’d come away convinced that what occurred was nothing more than your usual, open and aboveboard effort to get rid of a difficult employee by offering to “buy out” his contract.

It’s true that Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring did call Exposito and request to meet with him, but what the Close Out Memo fails to include was that Spring started the process by informing  Exposito that he did not want to meet with him anywhere on city property.


ALL of the meetings that took place between Larry Spring and Chief Exposito took place in the offices of a downtown law firm where a friend of Spring’s named Miguel was a member...(Tape 5, Page 16.)

It was this request that they meet “off campus,” as much as the offer of a “settlement” as a way to resolve the problem between Exposito and Regalado that prompted Exposito to go to the FBI.


Had the deal been on the up and up, the meetings would have been held at the MRC building or even City Hall.  But they weren’t.


Next, the Close Out Memo goes on to describe that “it was the Chief that set the amount sought and it was the Chief that spoke of how he wanted to be paid if there was an agreed to the buyout.”


This is where this Memo ceased being a reporting of the facts and became a political hatchet job intended to make Exposito out to be someone, “trying to set up the administration,” as Regalado was quoted in the Herald.


Given that this Memo was written by a criminal prosecutor in an office that relies on people sometimes wearing a wire to build cases against fraudsters and other crimes involving conspiracy, you cannot come to any other conclusion other than this was purposely written to ignore both standard police procedure, and the actual discussions captured on the tapes that he claims to have  “personally listened to,” and “had transcribed.”


Here is an example of what one of those transcripts reveal actually was said.


Bear in mind that this was a Sting Operation where the wire that Exposito worse was not only provided by the FBI, but where he was accompanied by FBI Special Agents Susan Funk and Paul Wright.


They not only accompanied him, but just like in movies and TV shows, they served as his controllers, discussing with him the various strategies and language that he should use in an effort to see whether Larry Spring and Tony Crapp would agree to a cash payout, and actually show up with $200,000 in cash.


THAT’S WHAT THIS STING WAS ALL ABOUT. SEEING IF THESE GUYS WOULD COME UP WITH $200,000 IN CASH TO PAY EXPOSITO OFF.


Just think of the following phone conversation as part of an episode of LAW AND ORDER. (Audio tape 3.)

This conversation actually starts during the meeting between Spring and Exposito recorded in Tape 2, Pages 11-17, where the specific discussion begins this way in the middle of the page.

The implication therefore, that Exposito was carrying out some sort of personal agenda, or that he was solely responsible for coming up with the $400,000 amount, as implied in the memo, is nothing more than a Straw Man construct made by the State Attorney’s office to discredit him and make his allegation seems petty and trivial.


HOW TO TELL AN ILLEGAL BUYOUT FROM

A LEGAL BUYOUT


In the Memo, Assistant State Attorney Christopher Angell, states that, “A contract “buyout” is not illegal.”


He’s right, although when it involves a buyout of a City Official, the first sign that something might not be on the up-and-up is a desire to hold the meetings in secret.


But there’s more.  During the course of one of the meetings, the following exchange takes place:

Since the release of the Close Out Memo there has been a concerted effort on the part of Regalado and his supporters to claim that the effort to “buyout” Exposito was nothing more than what was done when former Police Chief Timoney resigned.


The only similarities between these Timoney’s “buyout”  and the discussions held between Larry Spring and Exposito was that it was taxpayer money being used.


Last July, as part of my initial coverage of this attempted bribe of Exposito  I wrote a detailed story about former Police Chief John Timoney’s “buyout.”


Unlike the Exposito deal, Timoney deal was arranged the way a real settlement is done.


Timoney was paid a total of $68,021.03 in severance, $74,449.84 in unused vacation time, and $55,785.54 in unused sick leave for a total of $198,256.41.  He paid a total of $113,915.36 in taxes and his final check was $84.341.05.


The process was done openly and transparently, with no secret meetings, and the money came from the appropriate city accounts.


Here are copies of Timoney’s Oracle payroll records.

There is no comparison between the records above and the $200,000 check that was supposedly “authorized” by then City Manager Tony Crapp. to consummate the resignation deal between the City and Exposito.

It is the existence of this check that at the end of the day provides irrefutable proof that a crime was indeed committed.


THE CRIME THAT THE CITY COMMISSION KNEW WAS COMMITTED, WERE TOO COWARDLY TO  CHALLENGE DIRECTLY, AND THAT THE STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE REFUSED TO INCLUDE IN THEIR INVESTIGATION


This case, and this story started with Larry Spring reaching out to then Police Chief Miguel Exposito in an effort to eliminate the controversy that had started when the Chief conducted a series of raids against the illegal video gaming machines being operated in the city against the Mayor’s wishes.


The meetings and phone discussions took place over a 2 day period in January of 2011, came to an end after Chief Exposito declined to accept the $200,000 check that Larry Spring, supposedly under the authority of City Manager Tony Crapp, had been issued by the City’s Finance Director, because the FBI agents thought that the check would not be sufficient to prove fraud.


The sticking point was that the money - whether by check or by cash - had to be paid in a way that would have allowed Exposito to evade paying taxes, which was the predicate act that would have led to all of those involved in this payment being arrested by the FBI for conspiring against the government as a way to avoid paying taxes.


That was when the FBI backed out of the case. 


They, like Exposito and others did not know - because it was never revealed at the time - that the $200,000 check had been issued on the ONLY City of Miami Bank Account that was legally authorized to issue checks that would not require taxes being paid, and as such, would have provided the legal predicate act for a case of fraud being established!


Had the FBI, the FDLE and Exposito known this when Larry Spring told Exposito that he had the $200,000 check ready for him, there is no question but that everyone involved would have probably been arrested that very day!


This information however, didn’t become known until the City Commission meeting of July 14, 2011, and by then the FBI was no longer involved, and the case was sitting on the desk of Assistant State Attorney Christopher Angell, who was trying to figure out how not to prosecute anyone for any anything.


WHO REALLY AUTHORIZED THE ISSUANCE OF THE $200,000 CHECK FOR EXPOSITO 


On July 14, 2011, City Commissioner Frank Carollo introduced a pocket item (D3.7), he had placed on the agenda of the City Commission meeting to discuss the issuance of this $200,000 check.


The whole discussion lasted 1 hour 24 minutes and 45 seconds.  I will spare you the agony of attempting to watch the whole thing - unless you are masochistic, in which case you can click HERE - and provide you this small portion where Carollo lays out the basics of how the check was issued. This tape is critical to understanding everything that follows.

The logical question that follows what Carollo says in the above tape would have been, “Madam City Attorney, did you authorize that payment to be made from the account that you alone control?”


But it wasn’t asked either then, or in the remainder of the one hour and twenty-four minutes of discussion that followed.


In fact, all of the members of the City Commission went out of their way to avoid confronting City Attorney Julie Bru, or coming anywhere near asking that question, and instead resorted for over an hour in making meaningless statements about this issue requiring an investigation, or proclaiming that they were not there to investigate, because that was someone’s else’s job.


In short, the members of the Miami City Commission - including attorneys Francis Suarez and Marc Sarnoff - abdicated their ethical, moral and legal responsibilities as attorneys and elected public officials to determine whether the Miami City Attorney had violated her oath of office and violated Section 18-232 of the City Charter which reads:

The punishment for violating the City Charter is spelled out in Section 1-13 of the Charter.

At the end of the day, this is what really happened.


There was an attempt to bribe Chief Exposito, and the only way that Larry Spring and Tony Crapp could get the money to comply with Exposito demand that he did not want to pay taxes on the money - which was his way to try and get them to get the money in cash to pay him - either Larry Spring, or Tony Crapp, or both of them together went to Julie Bru, who had been involved behind the scenes in crafting the documents that Exposito was supposed to sign once he accepted the check, and had her override the controls of the settlement account that she along controlled, so that the $200,000 check could be cut.


NO ONE ELSE IN HER OFFICE WOULD HAVE AGREED TO, OR ACCEPTED THAT RESPONSIBILITY, OTHER THAN HER, GIVEN THE RAMIFICATIONS OF WHAT THE CHECK WAS GOING TO BE USED FOR.


Why was this particular account so important?  It turns out that court settlements are not taxable, and the money that is dispensed from that account - $2 million - never gets reported to the IRS!


WHY IS JULIE BRU’S INVOLVEMENT IN THIS SO OUTRAGEOUS?  BECAUSE WHAT SHE DID BY OVERRIDING THE CONTROLS Of THAT CITY BANK ACCOUNT, THAT SHE ALONE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF AN ATTORNEY IN PRIVATE PRACTICE ILLEGALLY TAKING MONEY OUT OF A CLIENT’S TRUST ACCOUNT!


SINCE JULIE BRU’S NAME NEVER APPEARS IN THE CLOSEOUT MEMO PREPARED BY THE STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, SHE WAS NEVER ACTUALLY A PART OF THAT INVESTIGATION, AND BECAUSE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS HAS NOT RUN OUT ON THIS CRIME, ONE OR MORE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE MIAMI CITY COMMISSION WHO CLAIMED IN JULY THAT THEY WANTED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THIS MATTER NEEDS TO MAN UP AND WRITE THE STATE ATTORNEY, DEMANDING THAT A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BE OPENED INTO JULIE BRU’S ACTIONS IN THIS MATTER!


IT’S EITHER THAT, OR START LOOKING IN THE MIRROR EVERY MORNING AND SAYING TO YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE A SPINELESS COWARD BECAUSE YOU ARE UNETHICAL, LACKING IN MORALS, AND UNFIT TO BE A PUBLIC OFFICIAL BY KNOWING, AND REFUSING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT A CITY ATTORNEY WHO WOULD VIOLATE THE TRUST OF HER OFFICE TO ENGAGE IN WHAT WAS CLEARLY INTENDED TO BE A CRIMINAL ACT!!!!!!


IF THIS SEEMS HARSH AND EVEN STRIDENT, BEAR IN MIND THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE CITY COMMISSION KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THEY ACTED LIKE THEY DID AT THE COMMISSION MEETING, AND INSTEAD OF DEALING WITH THE CRIMINAL VIOLATION OF THE LAW THAT THEY KNEW HAD OCCURRED, THEY INSTEAD ENGAGED IN TALKING PIDDLE NONSENSE ABOUT “MOVING FORWARD,” AND MAKING SURE THAT NOTHING LIKE THIS WOULD EVER OCCUR AGAIN.


WHAT JULIE BRU DID WAS, AND IS, REPREHENSIBLE BEHAVIOR ON THE PART OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, AND ESPECIALLY A CITY ATTORNEY, ENTRUSTED WITH THE SAFEGUARDING A PUBLIC MONEY, AND SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO GO UNCHALLENGED BECAUSE THE BEST WAY TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN AGAIN IS TO DEMAND THAT THE PERSON WHO PULLED THIS STUNT IS PUNISHED AS A MESSAGE TO OTHERS NOT TO DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN!