Its a big office and theres a lot of transactions going on, Colombo said then. But as far as I know, no.
He is available at any time to meet with authorities, according to a CMC statement.
Colombo said his wife introduced him to Garcia. She runs the luxury European furnishing store Nest on Lincoln Road. Garcias Peninsula Development Group bills itself as a builder and remodeler of luxury homes and Garcia was a Nest client, Colombo said.
He said Garcia introduced him to an investor, who Colombo didnt name but said was legitimate and might be very helpful in this thing where the convention center moves forward. Colombo said Garcia then pitched that CMC Group pay him as a consultant specializing in public-private partnerships.
I didnt really need a consultant. And there was really nothing back then going on, Colombo said. I said well talk about it. And then the guy ended up in trouble.
Colombo said he subsequently learned from reading The Herald that Garcia and Lopez were accused of tampering with the citys Request for Qualifications process. He said he also learned from the paper that Garcia was indicted in 1987 as part of Operation Pisces, at the time the largest undercover federal money-laundering and drug probe in history. After several years on the lam in Spain, Garcia pleaded guilty in 1997 to conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana. He was sentenced to four years in prison, court records show.
Details in a search warrant filed in court show detectives discovered an email with a scanned paycheck from Peninsula to Lopezs wife, apparently concocted to make it appear that she worked for the company and had a steady income so she could secure a loan for a Mercedes-Benz. In one email, Lopez instructed what Garcia was supposed to say if the bank financing the car called to verify that Lopezs wife actually worked with Peninsula, according to the warrant.
Miami Beach police and the Miami-Dade state attorneys office declined to comment, as did Garcia and his attorney. Lopezs attorney, Carlos Fleites, said he had no knowledge of meetings between Garcia and Colombo.
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, who has been critical of the redevelopment plan, said the city should consider rebooting the bidding process.
If the top bidder had some involvement with someone who had a corrupt relationship with Gus [Lopez] then I think its reason to start the whole thing over, he said. Or scrap the entire nonsense.
Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.