By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
For a year and a half, federal investigators had delved into the public and private worlds of Miami Beach mayor Alex Daoud, subpoenaing mounds of public records, bringing scores of witnesses before the grand jury. Meanwhile, journalists had battered and demoralized the mayor and his administration with an endless barrage of press that presaged many of the investigators' findings. Though the stories and their revelations had gradually eroded the public's trust in Daoud, the indictment shocked many upon its release, if only for the scope of its charges.
The government charted a legacy of misdeeds that arose parallel to Miami Beach's economic re-ascendance. Three major municipal projects dominate: renovations of the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts, and construction of the Thirteenth Street parking garage. Among the single count of racketeering, three counts of extortion, six counts of income tax evasion, twelve counts of money laundering, and nineteen counts of bribery were the following allegations:
That Daoud received payments totalling $35,000 from two companies controlled by CenTrust chairman David Paul after the mayor voted at a Miami Beach Commission meeting to approve a controversial dock behind Paul's La Gorce Island home in 1988. Daoud also appeared on Paul's behalf when the Metro Commission took up final approval of the dock. Nine days after the Beach vote, Daoud began receiving the checks from Paul's companies. Seven of the counts in the indictment charged Daoud with money laundering in connection with the payments.
That Daoud received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free or discounted renovations to his home on Sunset Island from contractors who were doing millions of dollars in city business. For most of the renovations Daoud had failed to obtain the required city permits. He also failed to arrange for final inspections on much of the work. Among those contractors contributing was Frankel & Associates, an architectural firm responsible for the design of many of Miami Beach's landmark public-works projects including the TOPA and convention center renovations, and the new Miami Beach Police Department building on Washington Avenue. An architect in that firm drew up remodeling plans for Daoud's house. The general contracting firm of Miller & Solomon, which built the Thirteenth Street garage, signed for materials and monitored daily progress at the Daoud residence. Contractor W. Edd Helms, Jr., had workers install electrical fixtures at the home.
That Daoud received questionable payments in 1987 in return for his involvement in the rescue of South Pointe Towers, a Miami Beach high-rise condo project on the verge of collapsing into bankruptcy that year. Daoud persuaded two other banks and some labor union friends to save the project with new financing. His law firm, Galbut, Galbut & Menin, allegedly received a check for $26,250 from a firm that represented a South Pointe developer. Another of the developer's companies allegedly paid Daoud another $11,000. The indictment further charged Daoud with laundering the money to disguise the transactions. During his re-election campaign later that year, Daoud called the rescue of South Pointe Towers one of the crowning moments of his administration.
That Daoud accepted bribes from the South Florida Carpenters District Council and the Plumbers Local Union No. 519 in 1988.
That Daoud, in 1988, accepted a $10,000 bribe from Gilberto "Willy" Martinez, a boxing promoter who later pleaded guilty to three drug charges. During Daoud's trial, defense lawyers argued that the payment was a legal fee that Daoud, as Martinez's lawyer, rightfully earned by lobbying real estate magnate Donald Trump to grant Martinez the closed-circuit television rights to a fight Trump sponsored in Atlantic City. Prosecutors countered that Daoud's letters to Trump were written on the mayor's stationery, giving Trump the impression that he was dealing with a request from the mayor of Miami Beach.
That Daoud demanded $3000 in 1988 from Miami Beach philanthropist Egmont Sonderling in exchange for approval to expand Sonderling's driveway onto city property.