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
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Mr. Filomia stated that he had been asked by Elba Morales to cash the $5000 check that had been written to him and return the cash to Elba Morales, who has stated to your affiants that she turned the currency over to Miriam Alonso. Benito Filomia cashed the $5000 check on January 10, 2000. Elba Morales also stated that Mr. Filomia's $5000 legal fees for the legal issue regarding the 1999 Sweetwater election were settled with attorney Benedict Kuehne from funds that came from the "Neighbors of District 12" bank account. Mr. Filomia advised your affiants that then-Commissioner Miriam Alonso had initially promised to pay his (Filomia's) legal fees if he were to proceed with the civil litigation regarding the Sweetwater residency issue. Elba Morales and Benito Filomia stated that Miriam Alonso had a clear interest in the Sweetwater litigation, since Manuel Marono, a Sweetwater City Council candidate whose residency was being challenged by Filomia in the litigation, was a political ally of Sweetwater Mayor José "Pepe" Diaz. Morales and Filomia further advised that Miriam Alonso would support anyone who would oppose Mayor Diaz or his interests.
The legal fees were paid to attorney Kuehne via a $9000 check that was written to attorney Jesus Uriarte and deposited into attorney Uriarte's trust account. Attorney Uriarte, in turn, wrote a $5000 check from his trust account to attorney Kuehne. Both Elba Morales and Benito Filomia have verified that no actual work was conducted in order to combat the recall effort and that the money paid to attorney Kuehne was for the Sweetwater matter, which was totally unrelated to the recall of former Commissioner Miriam Alonso. Mr. Kuehne, in a statement to your affiants, confirmed this.
Mr. Filomia stated that at the time that he became aware of this investigation during 2001, he decided to amend his 1999 federal income taxes in order to avoid any possible sanctions by the Internal Revenue Service for not paying federal income taxes on the fictitious fee he had received. Mr. Filomia stated that before he filed the amendment to his 1999 federal income taxes, he received instructions from Elba Morales that he should amend his taxes to reflect the $10,000, to include both the $5000 check to him and the $5000 payment to Attorney Kuehne. Morales stated that she gave Filomia these instructions just as she had received them from Miriam Alonso.
Berta Filomia, the wife of Benito Filomia, advised your affiants that at one point she personally advised Leonel Alonso that she still had a pending legal bill with Attorney Richard Diaz, who had represented both her and Benito Filomia when they rendered testimony in this investigation. Leonel Alonso advised her that payment of the bill would not be a problem, and that she should speak to Elba Morales regarding the issue. Berta Filomia went on to advise that between mid-2001, when the Filomias' taxes were amended, and early 2002, when the two initially provided sworn statements at the State Attorney's Office, Elba Morales stated that she gave Benito Filomia U.S. currency to cover the expenses of legal counsel incurred by the couple during the investigation, as well as to cover the additional taxes paid by Filomia. During this period Elba Morales stated that she delivered to Benito Filomia approximately $5461 in currency from Leonel Alonso. From these monies, $2961 was used to pay income taxes when the couple's taxes were amended in 2001, and the remaining $2500 was used to pay Attorney Diaz for the couple's representation, according to Benito Filomia.
JESUS URIARTE ($9000)
Jesus Uriarte is an attorney and an acquaintance of Elba Morales and Miriam and Leonel Alonso. As previously stated above, Mr. Uriarte received a $9000 check from the "Neighbors of District 12" account, which was deposited into his law firm's trust account. Mr. Uriarte then took the check and disbursed in three checks as follows: $5000 to Attorney Benedict Kuehne; $3000 to Attorney Kendall Coffey; $1000 to himself. The reason for the issuance of the check to Attorney Benedict Kuehne was stated above, and it was not for any anti-recall-related expense.
Uriarte and Morales both verified that the $3000 check issued to Coffey was payment for legal fees not related to the recall. Coffey stated that he did provide some legal advice to Alonso regarding the recall, but "he made it very clear that this work was not billed and not part of the $3000 payment he had received."
Morales and Uriarte verified that the remaining $1000 was paid to Uriarte as a fee for legal research he did on recall-related issues.
Investigators interviewed eight individuals who admitted their roles cashing checks from the District 12 account, all for less than $5500, and then turning the money over to Morales or Alonso. Among them was Edward Lyon, who shares an apartment with Morales's daughter. Morales wrote him a check for $2250, which both say he cashed and then turned the proceeds over to Morales. When the State Attorney's Office subpoenaed Lyon, he and Morales told investigators that Morales gave him $1000 for legal fees. Morales says this money was provided by Leonel Alonso.
Others whom investigators identified as having cashed checks on behalf of the Alonsos include Berta Gonzalez, a former tenant of Morales, who cashed a check for $4205. Eugenio Coto told investigators that he cashed three checks worth $5500 for Morales. When Coto was subpoenaed, Morales gave him $2500 for legal fees and told him to testify that he worked on the anti-recall effort. Morales says the money came from Leonel Alonso while Miriam Alonso instructed her on what to tell Coto. Morales told investigators that she and her daughter, Christine Morales, picked up Coto's girlfriend, Berta Valdes, who has since died, on February 26, 2000, and drove her to a bank to cash a check for $2500, then took her to lunch. (Morales said she had previously used Valdes to cash a check for fraudulent campaign expenses during Alonso's 1998 re-election campaign.) Morales stated that she and her daughter then drove to Alonso's house and gave the cash personally to Miriam Alonso.