MIAMI — Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested Miami City Commissioner Alejandro “Alex” Díaz de la Portilla on Thursday on criminal money laundering and bribery charges that appeared to be related to accepting contributions campaign but without revealing them, investigators said.
Díaz de la Portilla, 58, faces a host of criminal charges, including one count of money laundering, three counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official conduct, one count of bribery, one count of criminal conspiracy, four counts of criminal official conduct, one count of campaign contribution exceeding legal limits and two counts of failing to report a donation, the FDLE said.
CBS News Miami’s Peter D’Oench reached out to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and the Broward State Attorney’s Office, but they said they would not comment at this time.
CBS News crews were there when the Commissioner attended a City Commission meeting this morning at City Hall and then later in the afternoon he was taken to the TGK Correctional Facility in West Miami-Dade.
Attorney William W. Riley Jr., 48, of Miami, also faces a litany of charges, including one count of money laundering, three counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official conduct, one count of bribery, one count of criminal conspiracy and failure. disclose lobbyist expenses, according to a written statement from FDLE.
Both men were booked into the Turner Guilford Knight (TGK) Detention Center after their arrest Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Diaz de la Portilla was being held Thursday afternoon on $72,000 bail, while Riley Jr. was being held on $46,000 bail, according to the FDLE statement.
Both men were expected to appear before a judge for a first appearance hearing on September 15.
Investigators said they found evidence that Diaz de la Portilla and Riley Jr. accepted more than $15,000 in payments for Diaz de la Portilla’s brother’s judicial campaign in Miami-Dade County Court, but did not report them, as they claimed. required by Florida law.
The FDLE statement said Riley Jr. controlled a bank account in the name of a Delaware-based corporation that was used to launder $245,000 in hidden political contributions made by a management services company in exchange for permission to build a sports complex. in the city of Miami. .
The FDLE determined that Díaz de la Portilla also operated and controlled two political committees used not only to support his brother’s campaign but also for personal expenses.
According to investigators, one of the committees reported total donations of approximately $2.3 million and the other reported total donations of more than $800,000.
The investigation was assigned to the Broward State Attorney’s Office after the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office requested that the investigation be reassigned to avoid any potential conflict of interest or appearance of wrongdoing, Broward officials said.
“It is always sad and unfortunate when an elected official is criminally charged with breach of public trust, but the community should find some comfort in the fact that today’s arrest will shed light on alleged criminal conduct,” the Commission said. of Miami-Dade. of Ethics and Public Trust, Executive Director José Arrojo. “The investigation that led to the arrest today of Miami City Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla and local attorney William W. Riley, Jr. began as an investigation into possible violations of local ethics ordinances. Once made it evident that a violation of criminal law had been committed, “As indicated, the matter was brought to the prosecutors and authorities. We commend our investigators and staff, as well as the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for their work on this case and thank them for allowing the Ethics Commission to partner. with them.”
Díaz de la Portilla said in a statement that the charges were politically motivated. “When the smoke clears, I’m sure these spurious charges will evaporate into the air.”
His lawyer issued the following statement on his behalf:
“Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla has not done anything wrong.
This arrest without warning or opportunity to prove the charges are false and baseless is an outrage and a political assault on the voters of the City of Miami, timed to alter the outcome of the District 1 election.
This action has been programmed and executed for shock and awe, to create maximum damage to the campaign of Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla and his family. This is nothing more than procedural abuse of our judicial system, abuse of process, and the unfortunate use of law enforcement as a weapon against an effective and conservative Republican legislator by a Democratic state attorney for political gain and career advancement.
These false charges by the Broward State Attorney’s Office are an obvious ploy to remove an effective and honorable public servant from office.
Rest assured that Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla will win this battle and continue his fight on behalf of the citizens of Miami.”