A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
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THE CRESPO-GRAM REPORT
JUSTICE IS NEVER BLIND
THE EMAILS THAT REVEAL
HOW POLITICS WERE PLAYED IN THE DROPPING OF THE CHARGES AGAINST MICHELLE SPENCE-JONES

I have written a lot over the last year about the politicizing of justice under the reign of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.


There are those who have taken me to task claiming that I was trafficking in gossip and innuendo and that I should quit unless I was able to provide real evidence.


Well, that day has come!  Under a public records request made several weeks ago and complied with on September 26th, I asked for, and received what I have been led to believe were ALL the email exchanges between Fernandez-Rundle, her prosecutors Richard Scruggs, Don Horn, Jose Arrojo and Michelle Spence-Jones’ attorneys Peter Raben and  George Knox.


The emails span the period from the day after her acquittal in her first case, until the day after the charges were dropped in August. 


Michelle Spence-Jones was acquitted of bribery on March 17th, and the emails that I received start on June 10th.


The first email - by date - is a June 10th exchange between Peter Raben, Spence-Jones’ attorney and Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and her Deputy Jose Arrojo, and addresses concerns about “the political effect of a dismissal” of the charges against Spence-Jones.


From this email it becomes evident that from the very beginning, a primary concern of Katherine Fernandez-Rundle was not about the application of justice - she hadn’t expressed any similar “political” concerns about the impact that Spence-Jones’ arrest would have on the City of Miami - but rather on a concern about the impact of what dismissing the remaining charges would have on the Reverend Commissioner Dunn.


The email also reveals Spence-Jones willingness to forgo an immediate return to her seat on the City Commission by agreeing to work out a 60 day transition with Dunn.


NOTE:  Because of the way that emails threads are created, I have included a handful of emails that I have included as part of this story.  Larger versions can be read by clicking on any of these emails. At the bottom of this post, I have also included a PDF copy of all of the emails as I received them.

The bottom highlighted portion reveals that Spence-Jones’ lawyers wanted to have the case dismissed at the Status Hearing on June 15th, with a 60 day transition. I myself wrote about the possibility of that happening on the morning of June 15th.


The case was not dismissed, and shortly thereafter I received word that Fernandez-Rundle was playing politics with this because Mayor Tomas Regalado was trying to keep the Reverend Commission Dunn in the Commission seat as long as possible.


He had several reasons for doing this. First, Dunn had become a reliable vote, secondly, Regalado could depend on Dunn to be his mouth-piece in his continuing fight against Police Chief Exposito, and thirdly keeping Spence-Jones from returning was a way to have some control over Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff, who it was felt would be her principal target whenever she returned.


There was a lull in the email traffic until the end of July, when George Knox, one of Spence-Jones’ lawyers wrote to Fernandez-Rundle, revealing for the first time that a tentative date of September 1st was chosen as the date when Spence-Jones wanted to return to the City Commission.

On August 16th, citing the email above, Know wrote to Fernandez-Rundle again, this time questioning her commitment to the deal, and raising the possibility that he was being played out of pocket.

On August 17th, Fernandez-Rundle responded, and attempted to change the date of the Status Hearing from the previously agreed date of August 24th, to “the first week in September.”


This is critical since by the 17th, it was already known that City Manager Johnny Martinez was ready to suspend Police Chief Exposito, and that he had planned to do it on the 15th, but had been thwarted because Exposito was on vacation, and because Commissioner Sarnoff had supposedly threatened to go to court and get an injunction if the decision to move against the Chief was not pushed back until the beginning of September.


Notice how she segueways from “September 1, 2011 or the first week in September.”

Peter Raben, Spence-Jones lead attorney, responded to Fernandez-Rundle in less than an hour, pointing out that they had set a court date of August 24th based on the impression that they had reached a deal that Spence-Jones would be back at City Hall by September 1st.

On the 22nd, Fernandez-Rundle was still pitching to push the Status Hearing back.  August 22nd was also the day when I posted a story about the Chief’s impending suspension, and revealed the behind the scenes action that I had been provided by my sources about Fernandez-Rundle efforts.  Here’s a portion of what I wrote:


   In light of all that has transpired since, one has to

    question just how much of that battle was staged

    by Fernandez-Rundle as a way provide support for

    Regalado.


    I raise this possibility because of Fernandez-Rundle’s

    behind the scenes involvement in stalling the inevitable

    dismissal of charges against Michelle Spence-Jones

    has begun to leak out of the State Attorney’s Office

    like a water pouring out of a leaky boot. 


    The allegation is that Fernandez-Rundle has willfully

     been stalling signing off on dismissing the charges

    because the return of Spence-Jones would not only

    tip the voting balance on the Commission in the vote

     to oust the Chief, but would also give several of the

    Commissioners and Regalado himself a year and a

     half case of severe heartburn.”


The email below, and the others that follow from this point on, reflect that I was spot on in my analysis of what was happening behind the scenes.

At 5:00 PM, in one last effort to change the date from the 24th, to another date in September, Chief Prosecutor Richard Scruggs wrote to Raben, and made the following claim:


        “Accordingly, it is important to us to reschedule the

        status hearing for a short period of time to allow us

        to finalize an appropriate resolution of the case in

        the interests of keeping our conservations on track...”

Thirteen minutes later, Raben responded with a forceful response that finally persuaded the SAO’s office to honor their agreement and dismiss the charges on August 24th.

And so, it came to pass that Michelle Spence-Jones returned to her seat on the Miami City-Commission on August 31st, one day ahead of the schedule that had first been agreed to in July.


IN CONCLUSION


All of the plotting and scheming by Katherine Fernandez-Rundle in an effort to try and keep Spence-Jones from being one of the Commissioners who would vote on whether to fire the Chief of Police, for fear that she would vote to keep him, in the end came for naught.


The letter of suspension was not served on the Chief until September 6th, and in the end, for whatever her reasons, Spence-Jones voted the way that the smart money had predicted she would vote when it was announced that she would be returning to City Hall. Her’s was one of the three votes that upheld the Chief’s firing.


When it comes to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle however, it is abundantly clear from these emails, matched against the contemporaneous actions taking place at Miami City Hall, that she was actively engaged in trying to keep Spence-Jones away from being part of the Commission on the vote on the Police Chief’s firing, either out of her personal animosity against the Chief as exhibited in the rancorous exchanges they had had this year, or because she was acting on behalf of Tomas Regalado and others who felt that the Reverend Commissioner Dunn’s often repeated claims that he wanted the Chief removed constituted a “safe” vote they did not want to jeopardize.


This is not the kind of “justice” that people in this country, nor this community expect.  If someone is accused of a crime, they are charged, they are tried, and if found guilty, they pay the penalty.


If they are found innocent, or if the charges against them cannot be supported, then they are dropped.  Dropped sooner than later, without concern for the “political” circus at City Hall, or by foot dragging for obvious political reasons.


I have written about Katherine Fernandez-Rundle’s behavior in collecting gifts and swag, which in itself is shameful behavior for the Chief law enforcement officer in this community.


That she would also behave so openly in an effort to influence a critical vote by the Miami City Commission by attempting to stall the dismissal of charges on a crime that she and her prosecutors had agreed for months they could not sustain, I believe warrants an independent investigation by a State-Wide Prosecutor, and more importantly should automatically disqualify her from any further involvement in any open or pending investigations having to do with Mayor Tomas Regalado or any other  City of Miami elected official or employee.


It’s time for Katherine Fernandez-Rundle to recuse herself for the sake of justice and fair play in this community!

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PDF OF ALL THE EMAILS

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