An attorney once accused of apparent sexual activity with her client in a Broward jail is now under suspicion of smuggling him cell phones in a Miami detention center.
The Miami-Dade Corrections department made the accusation Monday during a court hearing over whether attorney Jessica Mishali could have more private jailhouse meetings with her client, Ysrael Granda, who is facing trial for his alleged role in a murder case.
The hearing added another twist to the already convoluted legal saga of Granda, whose case drew widespread publicity when allegations of jailhouse sex emerged earlier this year.
Mishali, who is married and has a toddler, has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying jailers concocted the story because Granda was cooperating in an investigation into detention guards smuggling in contraband.
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The case was thrown for another loop when the Miami prosecutor on Granda’s case resigned after a drunk-driving arrest.
On Monday, a lawyer for the Miami-Dade corrections department told a judge that over the months, Granda has been found with nine cell phones in separate South Florida jails. “Each time, the common denominator is the attorney,” lawyer Patricia Jones said.
Mishali denied supplying the phones, claiming that corrections guards are “targeting” Granda because they themselves could be implicated in smuggling in contraband for inmates. “The common denominator is not me, it’s jail staff,” Mishali said.
She added that almost of the cell-phone seizures predated her involvement in the case. “Ysrael Granda didn’t know me when he had this contraband,” she told the Miami Herald.
Mishali represented Granda last year in Broward County, where he was accused of shooting into a car while trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, Rafael Villafane-Rivera. It was during the run-up to his trial that Broward Sheriff’s deputy said he walked in on Mishali and Granda “in what appeared to be sexual intercourse” in a jail interview room.
She was banned from Broward jails for a time but now says she has been cleared to return to see clients after the allegations were found to be unproven. A Florida Bar inquiry is still pending.
Last month, a Broward jury convicted Granda of attempted murder and he was sentenced to life in prison. Granda is now awaiting trial in Miami on charges of playing a role in the murder of Villafane-Rivera, one of the targets in the Broward case.
Authorities believe that Granda was part of the conspiracy to kill Villafane-Rivera, who was murdered at the TownePlace Suites in Miami Lakes in November 2012.
Miami-Dade police believe a man named Johnathon Rico, Granda’s ex-girlfriend, Lisania Quintero, and Granda’s brother, Wilbur Granda, lured the man to the hotel on Ysrael Granda’s behalf and shot him to death.
For now, Ysrael Granda – who was in jail during the murder – has only been charged with solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder. But prosecutors told the judge they plan to present the case to a grand jury for an indictment for first-degree murder.
Meanwhile, Mishali recently agreed to represent Granda on the Miami case. He being held at the Metro West Detention Center. Because of the cell-phone smuggling suspicions, jailers have only allowed her to talk with Granda through a glass partition in a general visiting area –with a corrections officer standing vigil nearby.
In a motion to the court, Mishali said that she is unable to pass to her client “documents such as motions, reports, deposition transcripts and case notes” and cannot speak privately with her client because of the jail guards.
The corrections lawyer assured Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie that jailers were far enough away to not listen to the conversations. “To say officers are targeting Mr. Granda is a farce,” she said.
Sayfie, citing the corrections probe into the smuggled phones, denied Mishali’s request to meet with her client in a private room.