Fredric Karlton, a first-time candidate for Miami Beach City Commission, is getting a rude introduction to the city's gutter politics.
The 49-year-old real estate investor's perceived enemies initiated a Miami-Dade ethics commission inquiry into allegedly improper business dealings with his childhood chum, Commissioner Ed Tobin. It went nowhere.
And now, as the November election draws closer, Karlton hopes is having to answer questions about his volatile history with Janet Mestre, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his 14-year-old son.
When I recently contacted him about Mestre's allegations that he has stalked her since they broke up in 1999 and that he once beat her up, Karlton provided copies of court documents and police incident reports that detail the problems he's had with Mestre dating back to 1995, when their son was born.
That year, the couple had an argument at their home at 1570 Quayside Terrace. Mestre accused Karlton of threatening to "take custody of the baby and not support her any longer," according to a police report. Four years later, when they split up, Karlton did just that - winning primary custody of their son because of Mestre's alcohol issues.
According to the Guardian Ad Litem's report: "It is clear that the father is the far better parent...Ms. Mestre has admitted to the Guardian that she drinks for stress management. It is apparent that Ms. Mestre has not acknowledged that she has a problem with substances." (Karlton declined comment. Mester couldn't be reached.)
In court papers, Mestre has repeatedly accused Karlton of harassing and physically abusing her. According to an August 7, 2004 police report, Mestre alleged she was walking to her mom's house at 545 W 49th Street near Pine Tree Drive when Karlton's blue Audi pulled up next to her
He ordered her into the backseat, Mestre claimed. When they arrived at her mother's house, Karlton insisted she go inside. Mestre protested, saying she wanted to continue her walk.
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He got out, pulled Mestre by her hair and dragged her to the front steps, his ex-girlfriend and her mother Esperanza Mestre alleged. She sustained a bruise on her right forearm that was photographed by a crime scene technician. Contacted by phone, Esperanza Mestre declined comment.
The public record shows the accusations went back and forth. In 2007, Karlton obtained a temporary restraining order against Mestre after she threatened to kill him and his new girlfriend.
Surprisingly, Mestre's brother Enrique defended Karlton. "I have nothing but good things to say about Fred," the Beach cop says. "Fred has done nothing but help her out and raise her family."