Diplomatic Impunity

Wouldn't you love to rub shoulders with a man who has been knighted by the Queen of England, honored by the Pope, and appointed our local Liberian ambassador? Of course you would!

The knight-to-be, Charles Cinnamon, already has a title of sorts: Around Miami he's popularly known as the Dean of PR. He is not, however, Tony Boada's "long-time friend." Back when Boada was a communications student at FIU, Cinnamon handled the press for Elizabeth Taylor's stage debut in Coconut Grove, in a play entitled The Little Foxes, and he gave Boada a chance to interview Taylor. "After that he was a very, very eager kid," Cinnamon recalls. "He did good work that kept him coming to the theaters. He was a very eager guy."

That was twenty years ago. "Literally I had this call out of nowhere," says the publicist. "I hadn't spoken to him in many years, and it took me a moment to remember him. He said he was back in town, and that he had never forgotten that I had been kind to him, which was very sweet. Other than that, I don't know anybody who really knows him."

While Boada did graduate from Belen Prep and FIU -- he earned a B.S. in communications in 1980 -- he would not produce proof of any law and economics degrees from London, Liege (Belgium), Lisbon, or the University of Biarritz. There is some question as to whether the University of Biarritz even exists: According to a University of Miami spokeswoman, there are no public universities in Biarritz, a resort town on the southeast coast of France near the Spanish border. The only private institution, structured for mature students and retirees, is the Universite du Temps Libre de Biarritz, or Leisure Time University.

The Diplomatic Mission and Activities Thereof
Boada's personal assistant Maria Camacho toils in a makeshift office just down the hall from the Gold Cave. A petite, weathered-looking woman with strands of gray invading her wavy black hair, Camacho answers the phones, faxes the press releases, and fends off inquisitive reporters. When Boada accepts a visitor, she scribbles notes on a yellow legal pad and, upon command, scurries to the kitchen to prepare a tray of biscuits and French onion dip.

Camacho refers to herself as an attache to the Liberian Diplomatic Mission. "I just transferred from the embassy in Madrid," she says. "They needed someone bilingual in Miami, someone who speaks Spanish, so I came over here." (Strangely, she cannot recall the name of the ambassador for whom she worked in Madrid, nor the names of her supervisor or any of her co-workers.)

Other staffers at the Liberian Diplomatic Mission include Special Counselor for Investment Juliana Alvarez (the realtor who sold Boada his two apartments in Brickell Key II), First Secretary Mario Lamar (a local attorney), and Vice Consul for the Palm Beaches Col. Bert Grove.

"I assist him, is what you might say," Grove clarifies. "I suppose it has to do largely somewhat with business -- helping people who want to set up businesses in Liberia, Acomprende? That's not the entire thing, but that would be number one, I suppose. I already know several people who would not be opposed to setting up in some cases quite large enterprises."

At age 81, Grove lives alone in Pompano Beach. Back when he was still working, before radiation therapy for skin cancer destroyed one eye and took his hair, he published a Palm Beach society newspaper. His passion is heraldry; he is, he says, a Knight of Malta, a Knight of St. Lazarus, and oh, one or two more that he can't recall right now. He boasts of helping Prince Henri Paleologue (a.k.a. Enrico Vigo) dole out titles in ceremonies held at Palm Beach's Flagler Museum.

Grove's consuming dream is to establish a heraldic center at Lynn University in Boca. At the fast-and-loose tip of the New World, where people pour in by the thousands aiming to reinvent themselves, he wants to set up an academic institution that documents blood ties to the old countries.

"I am what is called the curator," he says. "It hasn't been officially established yet, but the concept and my proposal have been accepted at the university. It's supposed to be established in the near future. We're going to have armor, knights, shields, and a replica of the Bayeux tapestry, a very famous thing," Grove continues. "It was the first of man's attempts to show heraldry, dating back to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. There will be shields and swords and helmets and everything from about the Tenth to the Fifteenth centuries."

Lynn University Vice President John Gallo confirms that a heraldry center is in the works, though plans have not been finalized.

Grove hopes that primary funding for the center will come from the aforementioned Countess de Hoernle; ideally, the heraldic library will be housed within the new international center she donated. "The Countess and I have known each other for ten years, I suppose. And I know that she is very vitally interested in heraldry," he says.

Of the article that caused such an uproar on behalf of the Countess, Grove says that there "was confusion and misinformation and it was corrected." Boada, he adds, assisted in the rehabilitation of the Countess's titles: "I know that the ambassador has been working through Spain on her behalf."

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