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Ethics finding: Timoney should have declared SUV

Miami-Dade County's ethics commission's public advocate has found probable cause that Miami Police Chief John Timoney failed to disclose receipt of a Lexus SUV from a dealer, which he drove for more than a year.

Public advocate Michael Murawski found that Timoney should have disclosed the gift with the county and state.

Timoney did not contest Murawski's preliminary recommendation that the case continue forward. Murawski can discuss a settlement with Timoney's attorney, or the case can go before a public hearing in front of the commission.

The chief said Thursday that he does not dispute the facts of the finding, although he still does not believe the Lexus was a gift. "Bottom line, I don't think this is a gift, " he said.

The furor over the Lexus began in August when WFOR-CBS 4 reported that Timoney had driven a dealer Lexus SUV free of charge for more than a year. Miami's police union, at odds with the chief, acknowledged leaking the story to the station.

The report prompted Timoney to buy the vehicle at sticker price.

Timoney said he did nothing illegal but acknowledged that accepting the dealership's offer for the extended test drive was "boneheaded" and "stupid." He held a lease for a Lexus sedan at the time.

After the WFOR report, Timoney requested an opinion with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.

Former Miami Police Chief Kenneth Harms also has filed a complaint with the state's commission on ethics.

The incident helped fuel tension between the chief and Miami's Fraternal Order of Police. In September, an overwhelming number of officers cast a vote of no confidence in Timoney and Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez.