By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
In fact the dump expansion was dropped, so the recall movement was moot. This fact was driven home on November 1, 1999, when Dasher's organization, "Miami Lakes Country," sent a fax to Alonso's office stating, "The war is over against the dump for now." Pizzi sent another fax to Alonso's office on November 10, 1999, stating that the recall effort had ended. Although Alonso and her supporters were aware that the recall was over, contributions kept coming into the "Neighbors of District 12" bank account between November 10 and December 6, 1999. Contributors were apparently never informed the recall effort had foundered.
In early 2001, two sources contacted authorities and alleged that the recall money had become a personal slush fund for Miriam Alonso and her husband Leonel, who was her campaign treasurer. On April 11, 2002, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office charged Alonso's chief of staff Elba Morales with money laundering, grand theft, and mortgage fraud. The Miami-Dade Police Department's Public Corruption Squad, along with the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General, threatened Morales, who had signed many of the incriminating documents and who had solicited her daughter, Christine Morales, to sign documents as well. By late July of 2002, Morales had become a cooperating witness against the Alonsos. She revealed the alleged inner workings of the conspiracy to extract money from the account for personal use while making it look as if the money was spent on legitimate anti-recall efforts. For her cooperation, authorities reportedly agreed not to prosecute her daughter, and will recommend probation for Morales.
According to Elba Morales, Miriam and Leonel Alonso wished to devise a method or scheme by which checks from the "Neighbors of District 12" bank account would be written to certain individuals, who were willing participants that would, in turn, cash the checks and return the U.S. currency back to them. This was done to hide the fact that the money was not used on legitimate expenses related to the anti-recall effort, which had ended by the first week of November 1999. Part of the scheme was to backdate checks written to certain individuals to make it appear as if the checks were written prior to the deadline for the recall petition. According to Elba Morales, this was done to make it appear that the checks were payments for work conducted in the anti-recall effort.
The investigators noted that they interviewed ten of the commissioner's aides, who had no knowledge of anyone actually campaigning, fundraising, or establishing a phone bank on behalf of the anti-recall effort. One aide said she was asked to stay after hours to make calls regarding the recall. The affidavit notes that another aide, Benito Filomia, initially told investigators he worked for several weeks canvassing and organizing the recall effort. He later recanted his testimony and admitted he only worked one day to combat the recall.
Investigators also interviewed numerous contributors. They noted that 48 of the contributors recalled that their donations were specifically to help Alonso fight the recall effort. Others said they believed their contributions were for a political purpose but were not sure exactly what. Nearly all said they did not intend their donations for the Alonsos' private use.
Elba Morales stated to your affiants that at the time the fund was created, she met with Miriam and Leonel Alonso to discuss how the donations or contributions would be solicited. She also stated that Miriam Alonso wrote out a list of individuals with amounts that she believed these individuals would be able to contribute, and directed Elba Morales to contact them and advise that the contributions would be made on behalf of Miriam Alonso's effort to fight the recall. Morales added that she was also personally instructed by Miriam Alonso to make arrangements for having the checks picked up.
One contributor, Nelson Garcia, advised your affiants that he was personally solicited by Miriam Alonso for a contribution for the "Neighbors of District 12" fund. The solicitation occurred at a luncheon at the Versailles restaurant, which is located at the 3500 block of SW 8th Street in Miami, FL. Garcia then authorized a $1000 contribution to the fund from his company, Elinel Corporation. It should be noted that the check from Elinel was dated November 18, 1999, and deposited on November 24, 1999, both of which dates were after then-Commissioner Miriam Alonso had been informed that the recall effort against her had ended.
With regards to the expenditures made from the account, your affiants' investigation has revealed the following information:
A review of subpoenaed bank records from the "Neighbors of District 12" account reflected that there was $88,100 contributed and deposited into the account. Elba Morales, who is cooperating with this investigation, has told your affiants that out of the $88,100 that was raised from contributors for the purported recall campaign, only $9805.43 was actually spent on recall-related expenditures. Elba Morales gave detailed information concerning all fraudulent expenditures. Wherever possible, your affiants have corroborated her testimony by speaking with other witnesses or examining available documents.
ONE STOP ENTERPRISES, INC. ($10,000)
One Stop Enterprises, Inc., is a business owned by Ileana Morales, who is Elba Morales's daughter and the signatory on the "Neighbors of District 12" bank account. The idea behind the business is that it was meant to be a one-stop location for concession vendors to purchase different sorts of vending machine supplies, as well as cold foods. According to Ileana Morales, who is a cooperating witness in this investigation, no business was actually ever conducted by this corporation.