Sex, drugs and a big cop fight: Miami’s dirty laundry gets airing by besieged manager
In response to allegations of heavy-handed punishment and allusions to racism, Miami’s top administrator has issued a memo detailing the sex, race and transgressions of every full-time employee fired under his watch. The dirty-laundry list includes men and women accused of fraud, drug trafficking and brawling on the job.
Daniel Alfonso’s package to city commissioners included more than 600 pages of backup documents, and came in response to insinuations this month by Miami's police union that he has disproportionately punished black employees. Union president Javier Ortiz also told commissioners that Alfonso has lost every firing challenged by the Fraternal Order of Police, a statement Alfonso sought to clarify and contextualize.
“As I have stated in the past, these decisions are not taken lightly and you will find that at the very least, the documentation provided supports strong disciplinary action,” Alfonso wrote to commissioners Friday shortly after firing three more police officers. “Among the causes presented are workplace violence, fraud and child pornography to name a few. More than a third of the dismissals for cause are from employees who have been sworn to protect and serve our taxpayers.”
Most of the list of 105 full-time employees that Alfonso says he has fired since he officially became city manager in 2014 included little or no explanation for their terminations due to their status as probationary or executive employees. But for more than two dozen, Alfonso explicitly laid out his reasons.
Among the 105 firings and their ultimate outcome, as explained by Alfonso:
▪ Firefighter Alexander Rousseau, who was fired for viewing and disseminating child pornography on a computer while at a fire station. Rousseau was convicted and is serving time in federal prison.
▪ Police Officer Giraldo Linares, fired for allegedly falsifying tax documents and perjuring himself in federal bankruptcy court. Linares challenged his firing, won his job back, and then agreed to retire after the city moved to fire him over a different incident.
▪ Officer Christopher Vital, fired after a Miami Beach police officer caught him driving 100 miles per hour on the MacArthur Causeway and driving under the influence with narcotics in his car and a suspended license. Vital agreed not to contest his firing in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges.
▪ Officers Luis Valdes and Alfredo Matias, members of the department's Crime Supression Unit who allegedly lied about the details of a drug-buy at the Rainbow projects in Overtown in order to tie a gun to a suspect and protect a confidential informant. An arbitrator reinstated Matias to his job, but upheld Valdes' firing.
▪ Officer Jose Maldonado-Dick, arrested for attempted cocaine trafficking and sentenced to 42 months in prison.
▪ Park Ranger Christopher Smith, who allegedly kicked a table into a co-worker's chest and punched a wall. Smith was reinstated to his job by an arbitrator and given a 30-day suspension.
▪ Officer Johnny Brutus, accused of falsifying work sheets and leaving his patrol area without permission. Brutus settled with the city and was reinstated on a conditional one-year probationary period.
▪ Officer Jean Marie Jean-Phillipe, caught sleeping in his patrol car while on duty. Alfonso said Jean-Phillipe contested his firing before Miami's civil service board.
▪ Waste Hauler Bruce Lewis, involved in a non-injury hit-and-run with his dump truck, which he tried to cover up.
▪ Code Officer Brenda Meregildo, fired for brawling with another code officer. Her firing was overturned on appeal.
▪ Public Works employee Pedro Torres, fired after arrests for five drug and gun-related felonies.
▪ Dispatchers Erica Cook and Sheana Cooley-McNichols, fired for their handling of an inaudible 911 call by a man who was later found shot dead in an alley. They appealed their terminations and were reinstated.
▪ Police Sergeant Adam Gurlacz, fired after Alfonso says he was caught speeding on I-595, lost his take-home car privileges, continued to take his car anyway and then lied about it during a civil service hearing. Gurlacz appealed his firing and was reinstated.
▪ Firefighter Mijail Orozco, because “after the early ending of a training course, while on duty, Mr. Orozco consumed alcohol and socialized for an extended period of time at Booby Trap Gentleman’s Club, then drove a car, got into an accident and knowingly fled the scene of the accident.” Orozco reached a settlement with the city to win his job back on the grounds that he accept his time off as a suspension and remain on a "last-chance" provision for two years.
▪ Little Haiti Cultural Center Director Sandy Dorsainvil, a popular employee fired amid an investigation into spending at the community cultural center. Alfonso, who nearly lost his job in April over tension caused by Dorsainvil's termination, did not detail the reasons for her firing in his memo. She was quickly hired by Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.
▪ Officer Adrian Rodriguez, fired after he was found to have lied and falsified time records amid a homicide investigation into a death at a Metro PCS store where Rodriguez used to work. Rodriguez is a suspect in the homicide, Alfonso said.
▪ Officer Sabine Raymonvil, fired for improperly using the department's information system and falsifying an information report after paying a driver she hit with her police car $700 in order to leave the scene.
▪ Parks Supervisor Tejuan Allison, who got into a scuffle at work and let his employees know he had a gun and 16 bullets. Allison has appealed his firing. Ortiz says video of the incident should vindicate Allison.
▪ Waste Hauler Larry Ellis, who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the back of a taxi cab, killing a woman.
Alfonso’s lengthy memo also comes after three of the city's five commissioners tried to fire him this month, and amid a push by the police union to hold a vote of “no confidence” in the coming weeks. Late Friday night, Lt. Ortiz, Miami’s union president, issued a retort calling Alfonso “reckless” and criticizing the manager’s memo, sent two days before Christmas.
Ortiz also noted that Alfonso this week fired three probationary police officers over what sources have described as racially sensitive text messages. Ortiz said the texts were inappropriate, but not worthy of termination and “weren't in any way racial.” He criticized the timing of the firings, just days before Christmas and the end of the officers' probationary periods.
“As the most powerful administrator in the City of Miami, by airing out the City’s dirty laundry (with poor one sided summaries) just further damages the image of our community,” Ortiz wrote. “What a slap in the face to every police officer and to our elected officials when he ends his letter stating: More than a third of the dismissals for cause are from employees who have been sworn to protect and serve our taxpayers. What he doesn’t mention is that besides only one termination for cause that the FOP has represented, all the other police officers were given their jobs back.”