Miami-Dade mayor accused of retaliation in cuts to police corruption unit

Former members of the Miami-Dade Police Public Corruption Unit said they will take their concerns to the FBI about what they called obstruction of an investigation of electoral fraud involving the 2012 campaign of County Mayor Carlos Giménez.

They also said the recent reductions in the unit amounts to political reprisal for the investigation of absentee-ballot fraud in Hialeah.

“When the Number One man who has the power to hire and fire the police director is part of the investigation, everybody is scared of doing anything or following the proper police procedures,” said PBA president John Rivera.

Some of the members involved “have gone to the FBI to report that their investigations have been stopped,” Rivera said.

Both Giménez and Police Chief J.D. Patterson denied that the mayor influenced the investigation or the decision to reduce the unit from 20 to 10 detectives in late July.

“I don’t get involved in the day-to-day workings of the department,” Giménez told El Nuevo Herald. “I was never involved in any of the investigations.”

The mayor said the complainants have political motives because their concerns coincide with a round of negotiations that he will hold with the union beginning next week.

But the union leader and police sources told El Nuevo Herald that key evidence was concealed for months in the electoral fraud case that exploded a year ago with the arrest of ballot collector Deisy Pentón de Cabrera a few blocks away from Giménez’s campaign office in Hialeah.

They also questioned why no warrant was executed for a raid on the campaign office, even though Cabrera was seen entering and leaving the place carrying absentee ballots in her hands.

Channel 41, America TeVe, reported Monday that some former members of the unit planned to appeal to the FBI.

A detectives from the unit resigned last Friday after being transferred to general investigations in the Doral area.

Luis Rodríguez, a 29-year veteran, refused to comment, saying he has hired an attorney.

“I’m evaluating all my legal options,” Rodríguez said.

Juan Pérez, deputy police director, explained that the decision to transfer Rodríguez was partly due to his participation in the political campaign of Joe Martínez, who ran unsuccessfully against Giménez in 2012.

While Rodríguez did not violate department rules, Pérez said his political activities were “inappropriate” for an investigator of public corruption.

“We can’t be in Public Corruption, investigate politicians and be pushing an election for a politician,” Perez said.

Chief Patterson also expressed displeasure with Rodríguez for nominating Joe Carillo, a private detective, for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement award. Carrillo submitted the initial information against Cabrera in 2012.

“Luis Rodriguez does not speak for MDPD. I think that’s my job,” Patterson said. Those nominations “should go through my office….It’s not about circumventing any personal favors or personal preferences or whatever caused that. That’s not acceptable.”

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