Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla after his arrest for corruption crimes, including bribery and money laundering.
DeSantis suspended with an executive order with immediate effect to Díaz de la Portilla as commissioner of the city of Miami, of District 1 of Florida, which he represents, for the alleged crimes of the that he is accused of being linked to the exercise of his position.
The executive order also prohibits him from “performing any official act or function of public office, receiving any payment or allowance and being entitled to any emolument or privilege” for the position he held.
In the statement published by the governor's office, the arrest this Thursday of Díaz de la Portilla and the charges against him are mentioned: money laundering, bribery and improper use of a public office, criminal conspiracy, misconduct, failure to report gifts and campaign contribution that exceeds legal limits.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) announced this Thursday the arrest of the 58-year-old councilman and the lawyer William W. Riley Jr., 48 , both from Miami.
Riley Jr., the FDLE statement details, is also accused of not disclosing “lobbyist expenses.”
At the center of the corruption allegations is a $10 million publicly owned sports complex for a public school.
According to an arrest affidavit released Friday, Díaz de la Portilla pushed to build the sports facilities in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
The sports complex built by Centner Academy was proposed by Díaz de la Portilla and received unanimous approval.
During the investigation, agents found evidence that Diaz de la Portilla, of the Republican Party, and Riley Jr. accepted more than $15,000 in payments for Diaz de la Portilla's brother's judicial campaign in the County Courthouse. Miami-Dade, “but they did not report them, as required by Florida Statutes, Chapter 106.”
In addition, Riley Jr. controlled a bank account in the name of a Delaware-based corporation to launder approximately $245,000 in “hidden political contributions” made by a management services company in exchange for permission to build a sports complex in Miami, he detailed.
Likewise, an additional investigation determined that Díaz de la Portilla also operated and controlled two political committees used not only to support his brother's (Renier) campaign, but also for personal expenses showed that one of the committees reported of total donations of approximately $2.3 million dollars and the other of more than $800,000 dollars, adds the FDLE.
Attorney Renier David Diaz de la Portilla (“Renier David Diaz”) appears as a member of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Miami-Dade County.
According to local media, this case arises from an investigation being carried out by the State Attorney's Office of Broward County, adjacent to Miami.
“It is always sad and regrettable when an elected official is accused criminally charged with abuse of the public trust, but the community should find some comfort in the fact that today's arrest will shed light on the alleged criminal conduct," said the director of the Miami County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust -Dade, José Arrojo.
Born and raised in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Díaz de la Portilla, son of Cuban exiles, was a member of the Florida Senate until 2010.
Díaz de la Portilla and Riley Jr. were being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Center and are expected to appear before a judge in bond court in Miami tomorrow, Friday.
Díaz de la Portilla and Riley were released from prison yesterday after face the imposed bail of $72,000 and $46,000 dollars, respectively.
In statements to the media,Díaz de la Portilla said that his arrest was the result of “a work of fiction (…) This is a work of fiction by a Democratic state prosecutor addressed to a Republican municipal commissioner.”
With information from EFE