When it comes to North Bay Village Mayor Corina
Esquijarosa, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle should follow Monroe County's lead. There should
be no mercy for individuals who screw over their fellow taxpayers.
On August 19, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Vincent Weiner was arrested on misdemeanor charges of homestead exemption fraud and felony grand theft. Monroe County prosecutor Mark Wilson told the Keynoter newspaper that Weiner had claimed a homestead exemption on a house in Big Pine Key from 2007 to 2010 even though he actually lived and worked in Fort Myers.The result: $5,918 in improper tax exemptions.
"That's exactly what Corina did," North Bay Village activist Fane Lozman says. "If a cop can be criminally charged for homestead exemption fraud, then certainly an elected official who did the same thing should be charged also."
As previously reported by Banana Republican, Esquijarosa resided in North Bay Village for two years while claiming a $25,000 property tax break on a downtown Miami condo she and her husband own and rented to a man named Osmany Ramos. State law requires that homeowners live on the property to receive the tax break.
The Miami-Dade Property Appraiser's Office determined the Esquijarosas owed $3,109 in unpaid property taxes. In June, the appraiser's office filed a lien on Esquijarosa's condo, located at 1021 NW Third St. in the city of Miami, where she is a city employee earning a $98,000 salary and benefits package.
Esquijarosa -- who is facing a recall effort by North Bay Village voters -- can't claim ignorance, Lozman says. "It is heartwarming to see at least one state attorney realizes the seriousness of homestead fraud," he adds. "I am confident that it is just a matter of time for Ms. Rundle to also realize the egregiousness of Esquijarosa's crime."
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