The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics said last week that the South Miami Police Department can continue to purchase equipment from Lous Police Distributors, a company that recently hired the police chiefs son.
The son has no direct or indirect financial ownership in the company and will not be involved in the local contract, or profit from it, the commission on ethics said in a press release.
Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro had asked for the opinion.
The opinion comes at time when a majority of the commission wants Martinez de Castro out of a job. The chief has a case pending with the commission on ethics, after investigators reported finding evidence there were a few transactions involving the police department and his wifes business. Also, Mayor Philip Stoddard has been accusing the chief of breaking state rules when he signed off on a $9,998 gun repair expense that used state forfeiture funds to pay for gun repairs at Lous Police Distributors.
Stoddard said that the police department broke Florida rules of use, because the purchase was an operating expense and it was not part of an extraordinary program, as state rules require. Martinez de Castro said the expense was part of a Military Surplus program that allowed the department to buy and convert M-16 rifles into semi-automatic rifles.
Meanwhile, the chiefs eldest son, Christopher Martinez de Castro, is the new vice president of international sales at Lous Police Distributors, which has been a South Miami supplier for about two years, has contracts with many departments in Miami-Dade County and also sells weapons and tactical equipment in Central and South America.
Its an entirely different department. Where the city will piggyback on a bigger contract to get a better deal, I work with clients from around the world, the chiefs son said. I have nothing to do with sales to South Miami absolutely nothing. It is just being brought up because they [commissioners] want to attack him.
Stoddard and his supporters have been poring over public records related to the chiefs use of public funds. Most recently, Stoddard threatened to file a lawsuit against the city, after Maj. Ana Baixauli refused to release records that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement protects and can only be requested to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Commissioners have accused the chief of abusing his position to target those who oppose him, after two commissioners friends were arrested including Commissioner Bob Welshs friend who was a homeless Canadian undocumented migrant with a criminal record.
Commissioner Walter Harris said Martinez de Castro has continued to show a special interest in cases involving politicians friends and family. The chief has said that his officers have only been doing their job when the politicians friends and family have broken the law, because any special treatment would mean breaking the law.
On Jan. 5, Harris wife, Eda Sagi Harris, who has been active in South Miami politics for years, damaged a parked silver Honda Odyssey while backing out of a parking space at the Dadeland Station Mall garage in Southeast Miami-Dade. She was driving the commissioners blue Toyota Corolla and told police that she scratched the car but left the scene, because she didnt hit it.