In a sight that would have been unthinkable five years ago, former Miami-Dade mayor and top cop Carlos Alvarez appeared in court Thursday shackled and dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, charged with violently grabbing his ex-girlfriend and spitting at her.
Alvarez, 63, made his first appearance in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. He left jail early Thursday afternoon after posting a $1,500 bond for the misdemeanor battery charge. He must also stay away from firearms.
“I don’t own any guns,” the former Miami-Dade police director told the judge.
He was also ordered to stay away from Evelyn Fernandez, his longtime companion with whom he has had a tumultuous relationship in recent years. His arrest Wednesday was a startling development for a former politician who has kept a largely low profile since he was booted from office in a stunning recall vote in 2011.
His defense lawyer, Douglas Hartman, told reporters that Alvarez will fight the allegations and suggested that Fernandez is the true aggressor, showing up at his home repeatedly.
“He denies everything,” Hartman said.
According to an arrest report, Fernandez was returning the ex-mayor’s cat to his Coral Gables home when they got into an argument. He is alleged to have grabbed her, pinned her to a wall, cursed at her and spit on her.
Fernandez, a former Miami-Dade police lieutenant who is battling cancer, showed WSVN-7 photos of a bruise on her elbow she said was caused by the former mayor.
This is not the first time she has been listed as a victim in a battery case.
Back in 2006, she said she was hit by a Miami firefighter, Susan Hart-Berrantes, her one-time sister-in-law. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and later dropped.
As for Alvarez, he rose through the ranks of the Miami-Dade police department, and was eventually named the director in 1997. In 2006, voters ushered in the straight-arrow Alvarez, who pushed through a strong-mayor system that gave the position unprecedented power.
In 2009, after he was reelected, Alvarez followed through on a campaign promise and backed a controversial plan to build the Marlins a ballpark in Little Havana that used hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone for other public needs. That same year he gave several close aides large raises. By 2010, deep in the recession, he was pushing for a 12 percent property-tax raise.
The public lashed out — as did local billionaire Norman Braman, who spent more than $1 million fighting to recall Alvarez. In 2011, voters recalled Alvarez, a move that was considered the largest recall of a mayor in U.S. history.
He kept out of the spotlight for years, although in 2013, he won a bodybuilding contest in the over-60 age group, making headlines for his rippling muscles and Speedo.