The Toxic Pharmacy

A prominent couple's life unravels amid fraud charges and an arson investigation

Kutner, a savvy lawyer who once represented the late Cuban-American exile icon Jorge Mas Canosa in a paternity suit, said Harry Castro was fully aware of his wife's use of company funds to pay for personal expenses. "He controlled the business with a tight rein," Kutner intoned. "Whatever Sonia did, she did it on a short leash."

Roiling with rage beneath her zebra-print dress, Sonia said Alvarez's mayoral ascendance did not play a role in the breakup of her marriage. "Yes, I supported my brother," she said. "And if he had just decided to open a bakery, you can bet it would be packed with his friends and family."

Furthermore, Sonia attests, she played only a cursory role in the family business. "I would come in on an as-needed basis," she said. "I was doing what a housewife and a mom does: take care of the kids and go shopping."

Her attorneys, Sonia added, have all the original checks her husband claims she destroyed. She also said her husband would call off his smear campaign if she agreed to take him back.

"Harry is a control freak," Sonia fumed. "This is vengeance on his part. I was waiting for the Medicaid investigation to be over with so I could get out [of the marriage]."

Indeed, during a follow-up interview, Harry Castro said he would reconcile with his wife. Yet in the same conversation, he promised to rat Sonia out to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. "I've told her I still love her," he said. "I would look forward to salvaging the marriage. But the amount of damage she has done to our business is just incredible."

For now, law enforcement officials seem more interested in ascertaining who started the fire at the Castro residence, which coincidently took place the day after Sonia responded to New Times' questions. Harry said two arson detectives questioned him August 31.

Harry said he told the investigators he was working at the drug store at the time. "I received a call from our neighbor that the house was on fire," he said he told detectives. "I hung up and called fire rescue. I then spoke to my wife, who said it was okay for me to come over. I was there by her side for about three to four hours."

When he was questioned by the detectives, Harry adds, they informed him he was a suspect. "They also made it a point to tell me the mayor wanted this fire to be thoroughly investigated and solved as soon as possible," he said. Alvarez declined comment through his spokeswoman, Victoria Mallette. Miami-Dade Police spokesman Bobby Williams said the department does not comment on pending investigations.

Under the advice of her attorneys, Sonia Castro also declined comment regarding the fire. Kutner says his client does not know who started the blaze. He declined to answer if Sonia suspects her husband. "We are not going to make that allegation without proof," Kutner said. "Right now, Sonia is very upset that she is out of her home."

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