For months, Miami Police Chief John Timoney has been driving a luxury hybrid sport utility vehicle for free -- courtesy of the Lexus of Kendall dealership, Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS4 reported Monday.
The news station also reported that Timoney has not disclosed the free car on gift disclosure forms required under county and state ethics laws.
When initially questioned about the vehicle, Timoney, through a spokesman, had said he was making lease payments for the car, CBS4 reported. Later, after the station proved that the car was still outfitted with a dealer plate -- making it illegal to lease it to the public -- he acknowledged that he was getting free use of the vehicle.
In a written statement Monday, Timoney did not address the TV station's allegation that he changed his story. He did, however, confront other parts of the CBS4 report in his written statement.
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The statement said Timoney does not agree that he violated ethics rules requiring gift disclosure. But it said, "he has requested his legal counsel to obtain an opinion from the Commission on Ethics."
His statement said the hybrid was "to be used in conjunction with his leased vehicle, " and noted that it came from a dealership outside the city of Miami that does no business with the city.
The statement concluded: "Bear in mind, that at most, this would be a failure to file a form, and in no way constitutes any legal wrongdoing."
But CBS4 reporter Gary Nelson's report also suggested that Timoney violated in-house police department rules against accepting gifts. In his response, Timoney said he didn't break the rule because he "clearly did not accept the demo hybrid vehicle for services rendered as an employee of the Miami Police Department."
Timoney could not be reached by The Miami Herald. Lexus of Kendall General Manager Chris Roberts, citing privacy laws, said he couldn't comment on customers' information "whether it be a police chief's or yours."
As part of his compensation package, Timoney receives an $8,000-per-year stipend to be used for car payments and auto insurance, according to police department spokesman Lt. William Schwartz.