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Exposito’s Legal Bills Being Paid By Miami Taxpayers

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(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami Police chief Miguel Exposito was suspended on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.

(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami Police chief Miguel Exposito was suspended on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.

Miguel Exposito

MIAMI (CBS4) – The City of Miami may have a new police chief, but taxpayers are still paying for the old one.

According to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, Miami taxpayers will end up paying ousted chief Miguel Exposito’s legal bills.

Tuesday, the City of Miami Commission approved payments to a private lawyer who is representing Exposito in two lawsuits filed against him, according to The Herald. The city is also fighting another lawsuit relating to Exposito’s controversial campaign against video slot machines.

The first suit was filed by Johnnie Brown, who, along with another man, was arrested last year in a series of public corruption arrests.

Brown worked for The Alternative Programs, an organization that ensures people accused of crimes attend their court hearings before trial. Miami police said Brown accepted an illicit cash payment from an undercover detective posing as a defendant.

But prosecutors dropped the case, saying they had warned police before the arrests that there was not enough evidence to make a case. Nevertheless, Miami police, without coordinating with the prosecutor, went to a judge for an arrest warrant.

Exposito later publicly ripped into Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, suggesting she did not want to anger Alternative Programs founder and civic leader Georgia Ayers, whose grandson was also arrested in the case. Fernández Rundle denied the accusation.

Brown is now suing Exposito for false imprisonment, emotional distress, negligence and malicious prosecution. Brown blames the arrests for his lost job, a stroke and a heart attack he claims were caused by the publicity surrounding the case.

The city attorney’s office had been representing Exposito in the case. But the city turned to a private lawyer because the now-ousted chief has signaled he will sue for wrongful termination, leaving City Attorney Julie Bru with a potential conflict of interest.

Bru told commissioners Tuesday she would rather represent the city, than the former chief.

Exposito’s new lawyer is Oscar Marrero, who is also representing him, on the taxpayer’s dime, in a lawsuit filed by Hialeah businessman Orlando Cordoves.

The suit alleges that Exposito and former police Maj. Alfredo “Al” Alvarez defamed the businessman by linking him to organized crime during a Spanish-language television news program.

Then there’s the conflict with Mayor Tomás Regalado over video gaming machines.

Exposito has long claimed that Mayor Regalado was in bed with shady underworld elements running illegal gambling operations. The city attorney’s office declined to defend Exposito in the case because he accused Regalado of corruption, again leading to a potential conflict of interest.

The city is fighting a civil claim by owners of more than 100 video gaming machines seized by police in October 2010 during a raid championed by the chief.

The owners claim the devices are legal. The police department says they are contraband.

So far, the city has paid $5,221.09 to New Jersey gaming expert Bob Sertell, who traveled to Miami to analyze the seized machines. The case has yet to be heard in court, so the city could pay more if Sertell is called to testify.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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