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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

JULY 22, 2013

NEW DOCUMENTS SURFACE
WHOSE FAULT WAS IT

Over the last year I wrote a number of stories about Grove Key Marina/Scotty’s Landing, and the failure of over $3.1 million dollars being paid in property taxes over that time.


I based many of those stories on documents that I was provided - most of them anonymously - that made it appear that Scott Wessel, who held the lease for the property was ultimately responsible for the payment of that money.


A couple months ago, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Lopez, after a hearing that went well beyond an hour and that involved attorneys from the County and Wessel’s own attorney,  issued a ruling that it was the City of Miami that was liable for property taxes totaling $1,347,101.40 on the Grove Key Marina/Scotty’s Landing property for the years 2007-2011.


That decision is now before the 3rd District Court of Appeals.


A couple weeks ago I received copies of several new documents that I, and I suspect others were unaware existed, that provide a new and disturbing view of this tax problem.


The letters were written in 1998.  The first letter was from Miami-Dade County Assistant County Attorney Thomas W. Logue to Norman Segall, Scott Wessel’s attorney. The second letter is Segall’s reply.  There was also a third, and perhaps 4th letter that preceded these two letters, that I do not have.


What is important in these letters - the letters are below - is that in 1998, Miami-Dade County’s Tax Collector, was fully aware of this problem, and failed to follow up with his threat to file a lawsuit at the time - something that the current tax Collector did do earlier this year - to force Wessel to pay the taxes.


Given the way that the case placed out in May, there is ample reason to believe that it probably would have played out the same way back in 1998, putting the responsibility for the taxes on the City of Miami.


I think that it’s important to make the content of these letters public because they point to a very serious and persistent problem not only with this particular case, but with the behavior of the public officials at both the County and City of Miami.


At the end of the day, it is the people who take the taxpayers money to look out for their interest that are ultimately responsible for protecting the taxpayers from a loss of over $3.1 million in property taxes.


The letters below were written in 1998, and it does not appear that from 1998, to 2012, did anyone make an effort to pursue this issue in the courts.


Yes, Wessel hired lobbyist Steve Marin to look out for his interests - although that appears not to have happened until 2010 - and allowing for the political involvement of Marin, with his two clients, Commissioners Sarnoff and Suarez and their machinations behind the scenes, the fact remains that the ultimate responsibility for taking action in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 rested with the Miami-Dade Tax Collector’s Office.


They knew that there was a serious problem, and they did nothing about it!


When Fernando Casamayor, the current Tax Collector took the bull by the horns and went to court, it didn’t take long for a judge to sort things out and affix blame.


Think what you will of Scott Wessel, according to Judge Peter Lopez, he had no legal responsibility to volunteer to pay taxes on that property, but the City of Miami did, and the Miami-Dade Tax Collector was responsible for making them do so.


The public officials failed to do their job! Whose surprised to learn that they didn’t?


It’s Miami, Bitches!

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