Though Miguel Exposito applied for the job of Doral police chief, City Manager Joe Carollo said he never seriously considered hiring the controversial former top cop after he was fired in Miami.
Instead, Carollo hired Richard Blom, a high-ranking officer in Exposito’s former inner circle.
Today, most of Doral’s police brass are former members of Exposito’s executive staff when he was chief in Miami.
Joseph Seiglie is now Blom’s assistant chief. Alfredo Vega is the chief’s executive assistant. Ralph Tapanes is a lieutenant overseeing policies and procedures.
“Everybody I brought here, I brought because they had a specific skill set we needed,” said Blom. Seiglie was hired before Blom joined the department.
Vega and Tapanes each earn $70,000 a year. Seiglie makes $95,000. Blom, who oversees a department of 94 officers, earns $110,000 annually.
Vega, Tapanes and Seiglie left Miami on their own — Blom was asked to leave — after Exposito was dismissed for insubordination in September 2011 after a lengthy fight with the mayor over video-gaming machines and a string of inner-city shooting deaths by police.
“It’s normal when you come into a place that you bring the people you know,” said Carollo. “He’s done a great job here with a team he’s put together,” he said of Blom.
Doral, a large western suburb, usually stays out of the media glare. But that changed two weeks ago when Carollo and Mayor Luigi Boria fought over a development deal. An offshoot of that fight let to the arrest of Juan Carlos Tovar, a former business client of the mayor who in a police report claimed Carollo grabbed him and yelled derogatory remarks barbs during an argument.
Video shows otherwise, and Tovar was arrested last week by Doral police on a charge of filing a false police report.
Now Blom, accustomed to directing troops from inside police headquarters, has been forced outside in front of microphones — a chore his boss, Carollo, is much more experienced at.
Their relationship dates back two decades, to a time when Miami politics made Doral’s troubles seem like child’s play.
In the mid 1990s, Blom and Exposito — who the Doral chief often refers to as Mike — were close with former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, perhaps the biggest political foe of Carollo’s.
Even before Carollo took over Suarez’s City Hall digs in 1998 after a judge ruled Suarez won an election rife with ballot fraud, Blom had spent years watching over Suarez’s home after the mayor received death threats.
“I was Xavier’s guy,” said Blom.
With Carollo running Miami, William O’Brien became police chief.
O’Brien quickly demoted Maj. Exposito and Capt. Blom to the evidence room — often to work the midnight shift. O’Brien said Carollo had nothing to do with the demotions. Exposito would later tell commissioners his staff was ordered to investigate and create dossiers on a host of elected and community leaders.
A year later newly elected Mayor Manny Diaz named a new police chief, chaos at the department quieted, and Carollo went into political exile for a decade.
In 2010 another Carollo foe, Tomás Regalado, was elected mayor and selected Exposito as his police chief. Blom and the others were promoted. Carollo, too, resurfaced a year later — this time in support of Exposito, when the chief’s fight with the mayor turned into must-see politics.
“I thought he was getting a raw deal and I defended him,” said Carollo.
Exposito lost the fight and his job. Two years later Carollo, now city manager in Doral, hired Blom after Exposito withdrew his application. Blom said he called Exposito to get his blessing to apply for the post.
“It shows you,” said Carollo, “that I didn’t go pick my guy. I picked the best person.”