MIAMI (CBSMiami/El Nuevo Herald) – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez defended himself Wednesday against allegations from the president of the county’s Police Benevolent Association that he in some way delayed the investigation into electoral fraud by limiting the size of the police department’s public corruption unit.
As first reported by CBS4 News partner El Nuevo Herald, former members of the Miami-Dade Police Public Corruption Unit plan to take their concerns to the FBI about what they called an obstruction of the investigation.
They also claim the recent reductions in the Public Corruption Unit amounts to political reprisal for the investigation, El Nuevo Herald reported.
Mayor Gimenez told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana he has no part in the investigation.
When asked why it seems the investigation has been dragged out, Gimenez said, “That’s a great question. We need to find that out. But I can tell you one person who didn’t drag it out. Me!”
Gimenez’s campaign was sucked into the scandal when accused ballot broker, aka boletera, Deisy Cabrera,was arrested a few blocks from his Hialeah office.
Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera said key evidence was covered up for months and no search warrant was ever executed at Gimenez’s Hialeah campaign office
El Nuevo Herald reports Cabrera was seen going in and out of that office with ballots.
Rivera said he believes the recent cuts to the once-robust public corruption unit are more than a coincidence.
“He waited for the right opportunity,” Rivera said. “He dismantles the unit. I think it’s pretty obvious. I don’t think you need to be a brain surgeon to see what’s going on.”
Gimenez denied he had anything to do with the restructuring of the unit or delaying the investigation.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s completely false,” Gimenez said. “If anything, I’ve been someone throughout my career that has wanted to root out public corruption in Miami-Dade County.”
The case was handed off to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
In an email, Spokesman Ron Ishoy said the State Attorney’s Office received Deisy Cabrera’s notebooks filled with voter information in April, almost eight months after the scandal first erupted.
El Nuevo Herald reports those notebooks sat in a detectives office for months before being handed over.
“The case remains open, but continues to broaden as new evidence dictates,” Ishoy wrote in the email.
The case is set to go to trial October 8th.
Police Director J.D. Patterson told El Nuevo Herald in an interview it was his decision to trim the Public Corruption Unit down to ten detectives.
According to El Nuevo Herald and Rivera, a detective from the unit resigned last Friday after being transferred to general investigations.
Luis Rodríguez, a 29-year veteran, refused to comment, saying he has hired an attorney, El Nuevo Herald reported.
Gimenez said he believes the allegations are politically motivated.
He is set to begin negotiations with the union next week.
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