More witnesses have come forward regarding the Joe Carollo harassment allegations and one claims to have been followed after his testimony
This Tuesday's proceedings were very similar to last Tuesday's proceedings but with an added twist. Two former Miami Police Department chiefs testified on Tuesday that they were under political pressure from Commissioner Joe Carollo to utilize public resources to pursue the commercial interests of two Little Havana property owners.
In addition, after Former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, a key witness in the multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo testified, he said he felt like he was being followed not long after leaving federal court on Tuesday afternoon.
This week in Federal Court
Jorge Colina, a former police chief, was the first witness to speak on Tuesday. In spite of Carollo's apparent aggravation during a 2019 commission meeting regarding the lack of action taken by police and code enforcement towards homes owned by Fuller and Pinilla, he described how his decision-making never changed. Richie Blom, a former assistant police chief, told how Carollo asked him to get out of a car as Carollo's cheif of staff in order to measure the distance between a nearby church and the front door of one of Fuller's properties as the day came to a close. The commissioner, according to Blom, hoped it was closer than 150 feet so that the city could revoke the club's liquor license.
The most incisive testimony, however, was provided by Art Acevedo, a former Houston police chief who had been appointed to lead Miami. After a turbulent six months in which Carollo and other commissioners ridiculed him and said he didn't get Miami's Cuban culture, Acevedo was fired in 2021.
“Oh yes, I’m Cuban, despite what you might have heard from the defendant here,” Acevedo told jurors.
Acevedo thought back to the Saturday night before his inauguration. He claimed that City Manager Art Noriega had called to tell him to meet him at 11:30 p.m. on a corner in Little Havana. When he came, Noriega and Manny Morales, the current police chief of Miami, were watching as code enforcement and police pounced on a Taqueria owned by Fuller that was under construction. Acevedo claimed that Carollo had complained to Fuller by phone regarding a Friday night gathering that he was organizing.
Last week in Federal Court
Last week in the federal civil trial of Joe Carollo featured testimony from former Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez. According to him, the influential commissioner did try to harm two of the business located in his district.
Carollo is being sued by Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, who claim he harassed and threatened business owners who challenged him because of his position of authority. Ball & Chain, a popular Little Havana nightclub, is one of a number of properties owned by Fuller and Pinilla on Calle Ocho.
About the testimony by Gonzalez
The owners of Ball & Chain said their businesses were the target of multiple police raids and violations of local ordinances. On Tuesday of last week, Gonzalez testified that his relationship with Carollo as city manager was cordial up until the Ball & Chain allegations surfaced.
According to his testimony, Carollo "targeted" Ball & Chain and the other companies owned by the same people on Calle Ocho. In addition, Gonzalez stated that employees complied with Carollo's demands for police and code inspections out of fear of retaliation.
What happens next?
Video footage from a meeting held in early 2019 showed the jury the commissioner defending his opinion that Fuller and Pinilla were breaking codes. The municipal manager at the time said he left because of the "politics of personal destruction" and "circus" he was involved in.
Tuesday of last week, he testified, and it appeared that he never once looked his former commissioner in the eye. Former high-ranking officials from the city of Miami were called as witnesses.
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