Commission Ousts Exposito,Top Commander Resigns

MIAMI (CBS4) – The Miami City Commission has voted 3-2 to terminate Miguel Exposito’s tenure as the Miami Police Chief.

The vote came after more than 19 hours of debate over Exposito’s decision to demote officers in direct conflict with an order from Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez to hold off on any decision.

Monday’s hearing concluded after more than an hour of discussions by commissioners on the merits of Martinez’s case against Exposito.

When the final vote was tallied, Commissioners Willy Gort, Michelle Spence-Jones, and Francis Suarez voted for dismissal; while Commissioners Marc Sarnoff and Frank Carollo voted against.

The main issue that commissioners worried about going forward was trying to heal the rifts that exist in the police department and between city hall and the police department.

Following the commission’s vote, Major Alfredo Alvarez, a close ally of Exposito, resigned from the department, CBS4 News has learned. Alvarez told CBS4’s Jim DeFede he expected his resignation to be official on Thursday.

Alvarez was the former head of Internal Affairs. After Exposito was suspended last week, the acting chief immediately removed Alvarez from his position in Internal Affairs. Alvarez was also the department’s expert on illegal gambling machines and often led the department’s raids on businesses using the so-called maqinitas.

The department’s crackdown on the illegal gambling machines was a major source of friction between Exposito and the mayor, Tomas Regalado, who championed the machines as a revenue stream for the city.

The vote came after commissioners heard closing arguments from the attorney for Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez, Al Milian, and from Exposito’s attorney.

Milian spent much of his closing referencing the cases of General Douglas MacArthur and General Stanley McChrystal. Milian was arguing that the allegations made by Martinez were in the same vein as the MacArthur and McChrystal.

MacArthur was relieved of command by President Harry S Truman after the general went public with his disagreements over the U.S. policy in the Korean War.

McChrystal resigned after unflattering comments about the President Barack Obama White House came to light in a Rolling Stone article.

Miliam’s argument was to portray Exposito in the same light as both of the generals who were insubordinate to their Presidents.

Exposito’s attorney stepped up next and argued that Chief Exposito had brought national awards to the department and that the demotions that sparked the city crisis weren’t demotions, but simply reassignments.

Monday’s hearing came after Friday’s marathon session featuring more than 15 hours of testimony and saw Exposito, members of his staff, and a host of other witnesses testify. As time wore on, commissioners began to get angry.

City Manager Martinez said Exposito failed to take steps as directed to reduce overtime and continued with plans to strip three police officials of key responsibilities despite orders to postpone that.

A number of lengthy recesses pushed the questioning into early Saturday morning, with Exposito still facing questions from Commissioner Michele Spence-Jones and Al Milian, attorney for Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez, until almost 1 a.m.

Spence-Jones, considered to be the swing vote on the commission, probed Exposito about why he tried to demote three high ranking members of his staff, and when that effort failed, to remove their duties and responsibilities.

Spence-Jones was concerned how the officers were told, and asked pointed questions about the inability of Exposito and Martinez to communicate.

Attorney Milian want after Exposito firing question after question, at one point causing a frustrated commissioner Marc Sarnoff to raise his voice at Milian and say, “you’ve asked the same question five times! Five times!”

As the clock approached 2 a.m., both attorneys said they wanted to present summations, which proved to be the last straw for commissioners. Spence-Jones said she thought she and other commissioners were too tired to take action, and asked City Attorney Julie Bru if the commission could recess and finish at a later time, possibly next week.

Earlier in the day, Bru had deflected a Spence-Jones effort to delay the proceedings, saying, “The City charter says you must render judgment within 5 days,” but as midnight was fading in the rear-view mirror Bru changed her view, and told commissioners there was no reason they could not recess and resume at a later time, or even another day, to render their decision.

Both attorneys took issue with that, Milian pointing out that the Miami city charter clearly stated a deadline of 5 days, but commissioners deflected that by claiming the charter meant 5 business days, meaning the deadline for action could be extended until Monday.

Some commissioners, and the outside attorneys, wanted to reconvene later Saturday and complete the process, in “an abundance of caution”, but it was clear other weary commissioners didn’t like the idea, and Spence-Jones she had a conflict that would prevent her from attending.

Bru supported the delay, giving a legal opinion that it didn’t violate the charter, and despite warnings from the outside attorneys that such an action could toss the whole issue into civil court, commissioners voted to recess until 9 a.m. Monday.

Exposito, a 37-year department veteran, was suspended last Tuesday by City Manager Johnny Martinez who named 31-year police force veteran Maj. Manuel Orosa acting chief.

Besides the claims of insubordination, a separate issue under Exposito has been a series of police-involved shootings in the African-American community.

“If these commissioners cannot get rid of this chief, this community will be in an uproar, especially in the African community,” said Reverend Jerome Starling.

Exposito has repeatedly clashed with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, mainly over an investigation into alleged gambling operations supported by Regalado.

Throughout the early parts of the hearing, a camera focused on Exposito in the hearing showed Regalado sitting just behind him staring a hole through the suspended chief.

“I have reason to believe that I have been unfairly targeted by the office of the mayor for doing the right thing,” Exposito said. “I have been offered money to leave. I have been extorted.”

The chief wasn’t through calling out the mayor saying the entire incident has nothing to do with not following orders.

“We have a mayor who is hell bent on firing on me and the (city) manager has succumbed to that pressure,” Exposito said.

Things began to turn in the afternoon as the focus turned from Exposito to Martinez.

“Why did you want to look at the internal affairs files,” Exposito’s attorney asked Martinez.

Exposito’s attorney was questioning the city manager for suspending the chief and replacing the major over internal affairs. The move allowed the acting chief access to investigations into city and police officials. That information made it back to city hall.

“I didn’t look at the files, he told me,” Martinez said.

As time wore on, Martinez finally hired Milian to sit next to him in the hearing to help him present his case.

Mayor Regalado released a statement later in the day saying in part:

“This has been a painful process for the City, but at the same time has demonstrated our city demands that its employees respect their superiors and follow the Charter.”

Regalado went on to write that he wants to use this episode as a means to kickstart charter reforms that will reform the process for the removal of department heads.

Major Orosa will continue as acting chief until the city manager and city commission can agree on a new chief.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said it was his belief that a new chief should come from outside of the City of Miami police force, due to the problems surrounding the department after Exposito’s firing.

  • Heated

    Wow who’s the editor that passed this garbage. You either exempted several key facts on purpose or are running a biased news station. All in all i give this article a 2 out of 10 since it did have some facts in it

    • HUH?

      I give your comment a -5 .. for stupidity and a failure to attention, what a dimwit

  • DeeJay

    Only fact is most people could care less about Exposito. Why would you want to work somewhere no one wants you? He needs to go away.

    He was fired.

    That’s the only fact.

    Now he’s whining, that’s only partly fact because it makes sense, but he’s a big guy, so maybe he just sniveled a bit.

  • s corcoran

    What a corrupt city, the cancer is so deep on both sides there is no solution. Pick which political street gang you want to root for! There vying for power and position.

  • Hater

    We hereby, declare war against anyone in a position to take away corruption from the City of Miami. To the FDLE, FBI, SAO and all other interested agencies. We will continue to Steal, Rob, accept kick-backs from developers, and have gambling machines inside backroom markets without the fear of being prosecuted. We are above the law! Signed this 12th Day of September, 2011 We the City of Miami Commission, County Manager and Mayor Regalado.

  • N. Veitia

    Corruption continues to run ranpid in the city of Miami. I am so saddened by the outcome and ashamed to have the same Hispanic origins as those who control the city. So fortunate to no longer live in the city properly called “the Banana Republic. The city of Miami has lost a very dedicated and HONEST chief. My thoughts and prayers are with Exposito and his family during this difficult time.

    • dibert

      greed and meanness are the fares for the day in this country….decent, kind-hearted people are not needed….

  • havanaharry

    Circle the wagons!! Mayor Descarado and JUAN Martinez are nothing more than political thugs who will stop at nothing to bring down anyone who tries to cut off the cash flow from under the table. Gypsies, tramps and thieves.

  • Luis Morse

    Now is the time to revise the city ordinance permitting slot machines , by including mechanisms to verify how nuch money is put into the machines and charging a % comparable to what the parimutuals have to pay the state. That way nobody is cheating the state or the IRS.

  • igotyournumberdescarado

    Bananas will be given away at City Hall tomorrow Tuesday the 13 th of September in honor of yet another political victory for the Bongo brothers. Also, as a show of generosity(ahem) (cough! cough!) the City will distribute “Maquinitas” to all cafeterias and fritangas with no permit fees for the first 5,000 merchants who “offer” to donate(ahem) (cough! cough!) a percentage of the take to a charity to be disclosed at a later date.

  • TonySoprano

    Spence-Jones was the swing vote? You meant the lynch vote. Nobody in their right mind would take this proceeding serious. This organized crime family will go down. Take my word. A few will do time. Other’s political careers will be over.

    • Carol

      I couldn’t agree with you more if I tried.

  • Milkof Magnesia

    wow what a mockery of a city. This was a circus and it showed how much of a qualified person the city manager and the the rest of the circus that followed in the city managers corner.

  • Robert Stipe

    Glad to see that “politics as usual” was preserved!

  • Carol

    Honesty seems not to be the best policy in Miami.

    This blame game with this man is so over the top I can’t find the top he did what he could with the money he had and still the blame game continues.

    It might not look that way now but this the best thing that could happen to him he can now do the things he has always wanted to do without worrying about asking questions to people who hasn’t a clue on what they are doing.

    Sue you bet I would sue those idiots and bring out all what is really going on to me that would be fun to do.


  • N. Veitia

    Tonight the 3 demoted police officers are celebrating at the Cigar Bar along with Regalado and Martinez. Let me get this straight…an officer can disobey his chief of police, but the chief has no right to reprimand his officer. This only makes sense in the Banana Republic. Why isn’t the police chief voted by the people he will be protecting like all the other counties instead of being picked by a bunch of corrupt city officials?

  • sick of sofla

    This corruption is a reminder of why legal born american citizens have left that city and county. Real God fearing honest english speaking natives. We as America offers free accent reduction courses for a reason… to preserve our nation and heritage, you can’t even get them to attempt english nonetheless speak without an accent.
    BTW…. WHO IS PAYING FOR THE PERRIER THE CITY MANAGER IS DRINKING?? the green bottle is in all broadcasts. That is one budget cut that needs to happen. NO MORE PERRIER FOR THE MANAGER THAT I S PAID FOR WITH RESIDENTS MONEY. learn what tap water is BUD!!!

  • sick of sofla

    Rigilado…… and all his following are the “spanish moffia”… oust them!!!! Expisito was doing a great job cleaning up the streets of Miami. Something that has been needed for a long time. Enforcing law…. if you don’t follow it, respect it and know it. You pay the price for trying to challenge it and those who enforce it. All that have been shot and killed have deserved it. It’s called “TAKING OUR STREETS BACK” from illerate, uneducated, unacceptable rejects of society.

    • Floridian At Heart

      Yeah well said.

  • sick of sofla

    Faux networks hire the handicapped and cocaine fillled heads!! They must lhave the most blue hanicpped parking spots in town, just for their employees. Vivian Gonzalez is exasperating when you try and lsiten to her studdering handicap, her accent handicap, her phoenetiics handicap and her breathing handicap. Thank goodness for CBS 4 news they know how to speak english properly and correct.

  • Whistleblower

    As the nation and the world watch Florida go South even more. Thinking ,what a world of trouble they are in. Treating people worse than Cuba. Civil rights, human rights, constitutional rights without even a thought taken away. By those that are paid to protect those rights. What the troops are fighting for somewhere else being taken away there. Listen to the people of the nation and world ,you will see that’s true.

  • Jobie Steppe

    Jobie Steppe, corrupt, ha! The City Attorney’s office and Miami City Hall, i.e., the mayor and commissioners and City Manager all agreed that I was exchanging emotions with anyone who viewed my art in front of my home in Coconut Grove and placed liens on my home in excess of $340.000.00. I filed legal complaints in federal and state courts and so far the taxpayers of Miami have paid out in excess of $650,000.00 to attorney’s to defend against my complaints. That the same as putting sand in Vaseline.

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