Abuse of seizure power in the 1990s prompted Congress to pass the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), which raises the burden of proof before police seize property, and allows people whose property has been seized to challenge authorities.
South Miami Commissioner Bob Welsh believes that what is happening in his city is similar to what he called the crisis with police chiefs in Doral and Bal Harbour.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the former Doral Police Chief Ricardo Gomez for allegations of misspending and bid-rigging. The State Attorneys Office cleared him of wrongdoing, and the Doral City Council decided to reimburse him for thousands in attorneys fees stemming from the investigation. Dorals interim city manager, Merrett Stierheim, fired Gomez on Dec. 11.
The U.S. Justice Department accused suspended Bal Harbour police chief Thomas Hunker of allegedly misspending seized funds including $3,200 for a Miami-Dade police chiefs golf outing at Miami Shores Country Club. Hunker asked to be placed on leave as the investigation continues.
Its all catching up to them, Welsh said. And it will catch up to him [Martinez de Castro] too.
Meanwhile, Commissioners Valerie Newman and Joshua Liebman believe the situation in the Doral and Bal Harbour is different. Newman said Stoddard and commissioners Welsh and Walter Harris have a vendetta against the chief.
The payment for the dinner was SMPDs share of the expense that we shared with several other agencies, Martinez de Castro said. The funds were approved in the state forfeiture account for travel and conference during the budget process.
Martinez de Castro said he believes the accusations are part of an ongoing political effort to discredit him, reduce his pay and fire him.