Sorry About That Chief

As Miami Beach officials attempt to appoint a permanent top cop, anonymous critics try to stir up the selection process

He was allegedly "booked for a felony" for poaching in Gunnison, Colorado.
In November 1986, Barreto was given a $68 misdemeanor citation for hunting without a required Day-Glo vest, according to a report filed by an officer in the wildlife division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

He was allegedly arrested in 1971 for a misdemeanor poaching violation in Monroe County, which he failed to report to his superiors.

Spokesmen for agencies including the misdemeanor division of the Monroe county courthouse, the Monroe State Attorney's Office, the Florida Marine Patrol, and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office say they have no evidence of any arrest.

"He has a history via his own internal affairs [unit] for accusations of payoffs, excessive use of force, bribery -- all unsustained -- again all whitewashed."

Two internal affairs cases in Barreto's file, both of which were dismissed as unfounded, seem pertinent to this allegation. The first was based on three anonymous letters received by the Dade State Attorney's Office and the internal affairs unit in 1988 and 1990, alleging that Barreto stole large sums of money from drug dealers, sometimes during arrests. One letter also alleged that Barreto was bribed to "throw" a case in court against a friend of a fellow police officer. Internal affairs and State Attorney's Office investigators checked into the matters and found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The second case involved a tape leaked in the fall of 1990 to a WSVN-TV (Channel 7) reporter. The tape, which was never aired, appeared to show Barreto in SWAT gear, roughing up a suspect during a drug raid. Internal affairs investigators found that Barreto had simply placed the suspect on the ground and handcuffed him out of the direct sight of the camera. The suspect filed no complaints nor exhibited any injuries.

The letter-writer also accuses Barreto of a "sexual battery coverup," which appears to involve a recent (nonsexual) harassment charge against one of his subordinates, Maj. Steve Robbins.

An investigator determined that the incident, which involved Robbins's request for a back massage from a female officer, constituted discourtesy but not harassment. After the female officer appealed the finding, an affirmative action official from the Miami Beach Human Resource Department concluded that the disciplinary action taken against Robbins had not been "sufficient or adequate for the infraction."

Barreto defends his department's actions as "appropriate."
Says Garcia-Pedrosa, who looked into the case: "I'm not aware of any coverup."

Though city officials seem not to be swayed by the assorted allegations, the attack has not failed to affect its target. "You feel somewhat powerless," says Barreto. "You really want to choke somebody. But you can't take it to bed with you, or it will only make things worse.

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