JUNE 9, 2014






Miami has always been a corrupt city.

In Miami-Dade County there have always been dirty cops, crooked judges, and a State Attorney’s Office that was willing to apply a different standard of justice to the rich and powerful than the justice that everybody else got.

But things have gotten exponentially worse the longer that Katherine Fernandez-Rundle has been in office. For example, name the last high-profile Cuban politician that the State Attorney has prosecuted for public corruption?

And it’s not just Cubans. Fernandez-Rundle has also let developers, swindlers, bankers and rich foreigners walk away, regardless of their ethnicity.

The end result of a State Attorney that refuses to go after the real criminals in this community results in the kind of analogies that have come to define Miami, like this one in a New York Times story last year that said, “Miami is a city that produces a limitless number of crooked public officials, overeager developers and outlandish criminals.”

“Limitless number of crooked public officials!”

My story last week of how Assistant State Attorney Tim VanderGiesen, Division Chief, Public Corruption Unit, and Jose J. Arrojo, Chief Assistant State Attorney allowed Miami City Commissioner Wilfredo “Willie” Gort to walk away from multiple charges related to the $18,000 in unreported, in-kind campaign contributions from the FUEL Advertising Company, along with other illegal contributions was just the latest example of how favored Cuban politicians are allowed to evade justice.

Not to be outdone, Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardimon last week dismissed my alleged Sunshine Law violation against three members of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, when they took part in a private conversation during the hearing on my complaint against Miami City Commissioner Frank Carollo for exploitation of his official position.

I never had any doubt that Hardimon would do what she did, I was just curious in seeing how she would do it.  Here is how she did it.


So let’s start at the very beginning. What exactly is the Sunshine Law, and what activities does it apply to?  The description below of Florida’s Open Government Laws comes from the Florida Attorney General’s website .

In plain language this means that any ANY and ALL discussion held by the members of the Ethics Commission having to do with the hearing on whether Miami City Commissioner Frank Carollo had exploited his official position was covered by the Sunshine Law.

In Times Publishing Company v. Williams, 222 So. 2nd 470, 473 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1969) and Neu v. Miami Herald Publishing Company, 462 So. 2nd 821 (Fla 1985), the courts went into more detail by stating that:

“I spoke with Mr. Murawski and Mr. Centorino separately.  They each verified that no substantive matter was before the subjects at the time.”

Putting aside that I have called Joe Centorino and Michael Murawski numerous pejorative names over the years, and that I filed an ethics complaint against Centorino for Abuse of Power and Misuse of Public Money, the fact of the matter is that the illegal discussion that was held by the panel made up of Chairman Copeland, Judge Lawrence Schwartz and Dawn Addy was on a Motion Of Limini - a legal motion - introduced by Mr. Murawski, and debated by him and Ben Kuehne. 

What I alleged, and what the video and photos that I took of that incident clearly revealed that the panel illegally held a discussion in secret on how to rule on this motion.

The discussion of anything having to do with a legal motion being heard by a quasi-judicial panel is by any yardstick, an issue of substance, and therefore covered by the Sunshine Law.


Hardimon also relies on Murawski and Centorino to provide her with another bogus claim as a justification for refusing to prosecute these three individuals.

“They both confirmed that Chairman Copeland could have ruled on the motion without consultation with Judge Schwartz or Ms. Addy.”

He could have, but he DIDN’T!

The videotape of the incident clearly shows that Chairman Copland turns and leans towards Judge Schwartz, and that it is after that that the judge picked up the Blue Folder to shield the ensuing conversation that he and Copeland held. You can see it for yourself by going to 4:35 of the tape.

As the videotape reveals, there was a real, versus an inconsequential  conversation, between Copeland and Schwartz, which Copeland then turned to Addy and reiterated before denying Murawski’s motion.

Lastly, Hardimon relies on the absence of comments objecting to this illegal conversation by Murawski, Centorino or defense counsel Ben Kuehne, implying that their silence represented an acceptance of this illegal behavior.


The people appointed to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust are supposed to be the community’s guardians when it comes to ethical behavior.

They are not.  As examples of how little oversight has gone into some of these appointments, you should know that Dawn Addy, who served on this Commission for over 12 years actually appointed herself to represent the Florida International University Center for Labor Research & Studies.

Kerry Rosenthal was appointed in 1997 by the Miami-Dade League of Cities and went on to serve 5 consecutive illegal terms as the Commission’s Chairman.  He continues to represent the Miami-Dade League of Cities: a group that I think warrants far more attention than it gets.

Along the way Rosenthal cast a critical vote that allowed a former President of the League of Cities to avoid a Probable Cause finding a month before his term expired. He was reappointed to the Commission the following month.

The others, including Copeland, Schwartz and Nelson Bellido, the current Chairman are little more than hack political appointees.

As a former Circuit Court Judge, Lawrence Schwartz certainly knew about the Sunshine Law, and Chairman Carlton Copeland, who had been on the board for 4 years, also should have known the requirements of the law by the time he became Chairman.

Dawn Addy, after almost 11 years on the Commission also should have known the requirements of the law.

In short, none of them, as the guardian’s of the Public’s Trust,  could have walked into a courtroom with a straight face and claimed that they were unaware of the law or its provisions.

Why is this important?  because the law requires that when public officials “knowingly” violate the Sunshine Law they should be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

Hardimon attempts to deny that anything of substance was discussed  by using the unrecorded statements of Commission employees Joe Centorino and Michael Murawski by writing:

“Every thought, as well as every affirmative act, of a public official as it relates to and is within the scope of his official duties, is a matter of public concern; and it is the entire decision-making process that the legislature intended to affect by the enactment of the statute before us.”

“The Sunshine Law applies to ALL discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a board of commission.”

No one, not even I, would expect the State Attorney’s office to charge these three individuals with a criminal charge over this violation, but the law also allows for noncriminal penalties.

Therefore, when Hardimon closes her fictional short story about what transpired in this case, her claim that there is no basis “to open a criminal investigation,” is nothing but an attempt to bamboozle the reader into thinking that is her only option.

Most folks would argue that even though what Hardimon did in this case is pretty outrageous, she is covered by what is known as Prosecutorial Discretion.

That may be, but then again, it might not, and maybe it’s time to find out, because regardless of anything else, lawyers take an oath to tell the truth and uphold the law, as foolish and naive as that might seem to some.

It’s Miami, Bitches!