Despite booze and cocaine, Miami DJ won’t face arrest in crash that killed ex-city worker

Hugo Milochevitch, a Miami DJ, is accused in the March 2017 death of a former Miami Beach city official in a DUI crash near Downtown Miami.
Hugo Milochevitch, a Miami DJ, is accused in the March 2017 death of a former Miami Beach city official in a DUI crash near Downtown Miami. - Instagram

Authorities won’t be charging a Miami DJ who had alcohol and cocaine in his blood when he crashed his BMW near downtown Miami, killing one of his passengers — a former Miami Beach official who spent almost three years in jail for public corruption.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office concluded that it could not prove that Hugo Milochevitch, 27, was actually impaired at the time of the March 2017 crash that killed Gus Lopez, the former procurement director with the city of Miami Beach.

Known as Hugo M, Milochevitch was a DJ at Seaspice, a restaurant on the Miami River. He also spun at Miami Beach night spots Mynt Lounge and Bâoli Miami.

Prosecutors say Milochevitch was behind the wheel of the packed BMW that had just left a night of partying at a restaurant and lounge on the Miami River in March 2017. Lopez was in the car with him.

The BMW ran flashing red lights at the intersection of Northwest Third Avenue and Fifth Street, slamming into a pickup truck that had the right of way. The mangled pickup flipped and came to rest atop the BMW, trapping its five occupants.

Lopez died and four others were injured.

Milochevitch’s defense lawyers, Kenneth Weisman and Daniel Lurvey, called the crash a “tragic accident” and said prosecutors made the right call.

“We appreciate that the prosecutors thoughtfully considered all of the evidence and made the appropriate decision,” they said in a statement. “Hugo remains devastated by this unfortunate incident.”

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office explored charging Milochevitch with DUI manslaughter, which carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison.

His blood alcohol level was .067, just under the legal limit of .08 about three hours after the crash.

Prosecutors suspected he was impaired at the time of the crash, but expert mathematical calculations could not say for sure. No witnesses saw him drinking — and at least one “indicated that Milochevitch did not seem impaired when they were getting into the car,” Assistant State Attorney Michael Filteau wrote in his final memo on the case.

Milochevitch also had traces of cocaine in his system. But the drug stays in the blood for days, meaning it was impossible to tell if he was impaired by the drug at the time of the crash.

What about vehicular homicide?

Driving at less than 30 miles per hour, Milochevitch wasn’t speeding. No witnesses said he was weaving in and out of traffic recklessly. Under Florida law, he could not be charged with manslaughter based only on running a flashing red light.

“No criminal charges can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Filteau wrote.

The victim in the case was Gus Lopez, 56, who oversaw all city contracts and bids, including those related to a lucrative $1 billion project aimed at revitalizing the Miami Beach Convention Center and its surrounding areas.

gus3 lopez lnew cmg
Gus Lopez, a former Miami Beach official who was convicted of corruption, was killed in 2017 in a car crash in Miami. He is pictured in 2015 as he pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges. C.M. GUERRERO EL NUEVO HERALD

But in March 2012, Lopez resigned as Miami Beach detectives and public corruption prosecutors began probing possible misconduct surrounding the project.

The city became concerned that Lopez was possibly rigging the process by secretly assembling his own development team with businessman Walter Garcia. Though Lopez was never charged with corruption related to any convention center contract, the project was put on hold for months as the criminal probe dragged on.

Lopez was ultimately arrested and convicted of peddling sensitive information in other construction contracts involving about a dozen companies. By the time he took a plea in 2015, Lopez had served 34 months behind bars. His punishment was time served, plus an additional nine months of probation.

When Lopez died in Miami, he was supposed to be living in Orlando on probation.

The other passengers in Milochevitch’s BMW also suffered major injuries. They were Leonor Albornoz, 41, Juan Carlos Solari, 50, Nelsan Dufay Ruiz, 34, and Jeymi Lopez, 38.

The driver of the pickup, Alfred Peña, 23, who worked on the river dock at Seaspice, suffered a fractured neck. His medical bills and lost wages total more than $40,000, according to his lawyer.

But Milochevitch’s car insurance only provided up to $20,000 to be split between all the crash victims. Peña is still struggling to pay his bills.

Whether the DJ faces a lawsuit from the other victims remains up in the air.

“He left a lot of death and destruction in the aftermath of the crash,” said Rick Freedman, Peña’s lawyer.