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July 11, 2013

South Miami police chief pleads no contest to ethics violations

Orlando Martinez De Castro was accused of steering department business to his wife’s companies.

The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust agreed Thursday to settle an ethics complaint against South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez De Castro.

Under the settlement agreement, which evolved over months of negotiations, De Castro pleaded no contest to three of the four charges against him. He agreed to pay $2,000 in investigative costs and receive a letter of instruction.

De Castro was accused of having his department do business with his wife’s companies, thereby violating the city’s ethics code, which bars city employees from doing business with immediate family members who have a financial interest with the city. Willful violation constitutes malfeasance and results in forfeiture of office. The fourth charge, which was dropped, alleged a violation a section of the county’s ethics code that prohibits exploiting one’s official position.

“There is substantial evidence to show that De Castro was, in fact, well aware that his department did business with his wife’s company,” according to the probable-cause memorandum written by the ethics commission’s advocate, Michael Murawski.

However, the draft final order written by Murawski states the commission “specifically made no finding as to whether the violation was or was not ‘willful.’ ”

That draft order has not yet been adopted by the commission, and each side will present draft final orders for the ethics commission to consider next month.

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