Caught on Tape

Every once in a great while we get to peek behind the curtain and see how this town really works. As you might guess, it's not very pretty.

It's up to you. You have my phone numbers. I'm just trying to give you an opportunity to answer as many questions as you can so we have all the facts. Again, these are the questions I have to ask. You guys discussed a fee arrangement. Obviously you now say that the fee arrangement didn't happen because Arza wasn't hired. But would you call it a contingency fee? A success fee?

Price: No. Those fees are illegal in Dade County.

So explain when you go hire someone like Arza -- [Francisco Alvarado reads from tape transcription] -- is that how it's normally done?

Price: No, that's not how it is normally done.

How is it normally done?

Price: Normally the client and the lobbyist write up an agreement, based on what the market will bear -- this is a short conversation taped over a two-, three-week period that is being taken out of context.

Do you know when the conversation took place?

[Adler interrupts the interview again and tells Price to end it]

Price: Let me terminate this, Frank.

Okay.

Price: I've been doing this for too long to be dragged through the mud on this stuff. That's not my reputation and it's not what I do. Look, I know the New Times. I really do. You guys sensationalize things. That's how DeFede rose to power. No matter what I tell you, it is going to be taken out of context.

Well, you have my numbers. But I am going to call you back. When can I do that?

Price: Give me a couple of days.


Questions and Responses

FOR MASOUD SHOJAEE

1. Can you identify the third person participating in the tape-recorded conversation? This is the man who states: “Stanley, did you discuss any fees with him? Because I remember this agreement he was going to discuss with Stanley. Remember, Masoud?”

2. Stanley Price recently told New Times that state Rep. Ralph Arza “was just there to lobby on our behalf,” meaning Shoma Development Corp. According to official records, Arza is not registered as a lobbyist, as required by law, in any South Florida municipal jurisdiction -- including the county and the City of Doral. Were you aware of this? Did Stanley Price advise you that Arza was not legally registered to work as a lobbyist?

3. At one point in the tape-recorded conversation you say: “Okay, let’s tell Ralph, uh, Felix come to the office on Friday morning.” Can you identify Felix? Did Ralph Arza come to your office on Friday? Can you provide an exact date for that Friday in 2004? What was discussed at that meeting?

4. Stanley Price recently told New Times that you met with Ralph Arza after the tape-recorded conversation and you “decided we did not need his employment. In fact he [you, Masoud Shojaee] didn’t hire him on this property.” Can you provide an exact or approximate date of that meeting? What was discussed at the meeting? If it is true you decided not to hire Arza, can you explain why?

5. Has any law-enforcement or judicial authority summoned you to answer questions regarding alleged criminal activities within the City of Doral?

SHOJAEE'S RESPONSE

Dear Mr. Alvarado:

As you know I represent Mr. Masoud Shojaee. I have been authorized by him to make the following statement on his behalf in response to your fax of April 6, 2005.

The attorney-client privilege governing confidentiality of communications between a client and his counsel is among the most closely guarded and cherished of all the privileges protecting confidential communications. Confidentiality of communications between a client and his or her counsel is essential for a client to obtain effective legal representation and advice from his counsel. You can imagine your own outrage if your and/or your editor's confidential conversations with legal counsel for the New Times were recorded without your consent, transcribed, and published by The Herald.

Mr. Shojaee is similarly outraged by your intention to publish the contents of a purported recording, the accuracy of which is yet undetermined, of a privileged and confidential communication between him and his counsel.

The questions you have asked in your fax would necessarily require Mr. Shojaee to disclose the contents of his confidential conversations with his counsel. He will not and cannot respond to your questions, because to do so could be construed as a waiver by him of the attorney-client privilege. He does not intend to waive or relinquish his attorney-client privilege, or in any other way authorize or condone, directly or indirectly, the disclosure of any of his confidential communications with his counsel.

What can and must be said, and emphasized, is that in the copy of the transcript you provided to me, nothing was said or occurred that was in any way improper or unlawful by Mr. Shojaee. Mr. Shojaee is proud of his well-deserved impeccable reputation as an outstanding citizen and businessman in this community. He has not and does not engage in any improper conduct with respect to any of his business dealings.

We respectfully caution you to refrain from implying or suggesting in any way in your article that Mr. Shojaee has engaged in any improper conduct or saying anything that would otherwise disparage his excellent reputation.

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