Miami-Dade County

Miami Senate candidate called ‘belligerent’ by Boston police in 2012 misdemeanor arrest

Former Miami lawmaker Alex Diaz de la Portilla is hoping to return to the state Senate this summer.
Former Miami lawmaker Alex Diaz de la Portilla is hoping to return to the state Senate this summer.

A former Miami lawmaker hoping to return to the state Senate this summer was arrested in Boston nearly five years ago after police say he and a guest ignored orders by hotel security to stop smoking cigarettes in their room and then became “belligerent” when told to pack their bags and leave.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla was charged with trespassing and taken into police custody, according to an incident report and booking form obtained by the Miami Herald. Police also arrested Tania G. Cruz, the daughter-in-law of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, on the same charge.

The Oct. 19, 2012, misdemeanor cases were dismissed prior to arraignment at the request of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, according to the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court. Diaz de la Portilla brushes the incident aside as a non-event.

But the police description of the previously unreported incident is unflattering. And the details are coming to light just days ahead of a July 25 Republican primary election to decide whether Diaz de la Portilla, State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz or attorney Lorenzo Palomares will represent the party in the race to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles in serving District 40.

“This was a civil citation issued for smoking a cigarette in a hotel room. The citation was dropped and a cleaning fee was paid to the hotel. There is nothing more to it than that,” Diaz de la Portilla wrote Friday in a statement, in which he accused his main opponent of trying to smear him by spreading word of the previously unreported arrest. “What is truly relevant to voters is that this is a cowardly attempt by Jose Felix Diaz to smear and defame me and a mother of two young girls in a last ditch effort to salvage a losing campaign.”

According to the previously unreported Boston police incident report — which Diaz de la Portilla calls a “gross mischaracterization” of the incident — he and Cruz were together at the Intercontinental Hotel at 510 Atlantic Ave. after 10 p.m. on a rainy Friday night when hotel security received complaints that they were smoking inside room 801. Security Supervisor Nelson McCain told police that Diaz de la Portilla and Cruz were told twice to stop smoking, a violation of hotel policy, but refused to comply.

McCain, who did not recall the incident when reached by phone, said in the police report that they ignored the warnings and continued to smoke, so security called police, according to a report by arresting officer Raymond D’Oyley. When D’Oyley arrived, he said McCain told him the two were no longer hotel guests and needed to leave.

D’Oyley wrote in the incident report that police tried to allow Diaz de la Portilla and Cruz to leave on their own, but they were “belligerent, intoxicated and stated they were lawyers in Miami.” He said they “slammed the room door shut and refused to leave” after McCain told them they had to check out of the hotel.

Police placed them under custody, D’Oyley wrote. Booking reports show they had their mug shots taken, though there was no attempt to pursue the charges by the district attorney.

Cruz, the wife of prominent lobbyist C.J. Gimenez, says she and Diaz de la Portilla, a political consultant, were in Boston courting a client. Cruz, an attorney, is currently part of the Diaz de la Portilla campaign, which she said has “run a clean and ethical campaign based on the issues.”

“What is the issue? I had a cigarette in a hotel. I received a civil citation. I paid a cleaning fee to the hotel — clearly not the salacious story that Jose Felix Diaz and his band of over-matched and unscrupulous consultants are making it out to be,” Cruz wrote in a statement. “I am a private citizen helping my friend with his campaign. If Jose Felix and Co. choose to continue attacking me, so be it. I will focus on winning.”

Reached by phone Friday, Diaz said he had nothing to do with pushing details of the arrest to light.

“I’m not involved at all with that. I don’t engage in that type of campaigning,” he said. “That’s none of my business.”

Though nearly five years old, Diaz de la Portilla’s previously unreported arrest in Boston happened during the heat of his most recent political campaign (a losing effort for state House). It appears to be the most recent blemish on his record: He was arrested twice on misdemeanors in the early 1980s, and as a lawmaker in 2002 he beat misdemeanor charges in court on accusations that he failed to report campaign contributions.

In 2011, he was charged with contempt of court when he failed to return one of his two dogs to his ex-wife and didn’t show up to hearings. But he was never arrested and won a challenge of the declaration before the Florida Supreme Court. These days, he mocks the incident on his Twitter page.

Miami Herald researcher Monika Leal contributed to this report.