North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre's campaign manager, Ricardo Brutus, took an envelope stuffed with $4,000 in cash in exchange for asking "his people" to take an item off the city council's agenda earlier this year, prosecutors say.
A police report obtained by New Times detailing Brutus' arrest is sure to raise questions about Pierre's own involvement in the corruption scheme. Brutus is the mayor's top campaign staffer and sits on four city boards thanks to appointments from Pierre.
Brutus was arrested on Friday and charged with a felony count of unlawful compensation.
Here's how it went down, according to investigators:
On January 25, a cooperating defendant -- who isn't named -- recorded a call where Brutus told him that an item he had an interest in getting passed was sure to fail when the council voted on it.
For a price, though, Brutus said he could call "his people," and pull it off the agenda so it wouldn't be voted down. In return, Brutus asked for $3,500 in cash.
The cooperating defendant agreed and at the January 25 council meeting, the item was indeed pulled from the agenda. Brutus quickly sent a text: "We are all happy, see you tomorrow."
The next day, agents filmed Brutus picking up an envelope full of money. Brutus said he was going to pay "his people" with the cash for getting the agenda item pulled. The cooperating witness tossed in another $500 for Brutus.
So here's the obvious question. Who are Brutus' "people" that were so willing to help pull the item for cash?
The police report casually notes at the end that Brutus is Pierre's campaign manager and owes the mayor for putting him on city boards. Hmmmm ...
Pierre hasn't exactly had trouble free year in office. First, donors were dismayed when Pierre collected $100,000 after the Haiti earthquake and then apparently never sent the money to his devastated homeland.
Then, Pierre said he "couldn't remember" who lent him a $100,000 Porsche he started driving to City Hall.
And the mayor was again chastised for handing out dozens of fake police badges to friends and supporters.
We tried to call Pierre to talk about his manager's arrest, but a cell phone number went to a recording saying he "wasn't accepting calls." A message left at City Hall was also not returned.
Here's Brutus' police report:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Update: North Miami Council member Scott Galvin says he played a key role in bringing down Brutus. Here's the email he sent out about his role:
Earlier today, State law enforcement officers arrested outside my office Ricardo Brutus, campaign manager and nephew of North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre. He has been criminally charged with Unlawful Compensation, the equivalent of bribery. Brutus is also Pierre's appointee to the City's Board of Adjustment.
It has been a long time coming.
Since October 2010, I have been working directly with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office (SAO) on an investigation of public corruption in North Miami.
Today's arrest is a direct result of information I brought to law enforcement five months ago.
The exact details of my assistance in the probe will become known very soon as investigators and the State Attorney publicly release details. And I will share with you whatever they allow me to do that does not jeopardize our case.
It has been hard to bite my tongue these last five months, knowing that corrupt, back-room deals were being carried out by people around me. One of the most difficult things I have ever done is to watch people abuse the public trust to enrich themselves and stack the deck for their friends while I pretended not to notice.
You have heard me shout loudly about missing police-like badges and and insider deals. Today is just the start of that story -- soon, you'll know even more about why I shouted.
And it will also become very clear why the corrupt forces of influence have attacked me so personally. They have done their best to discredit me and distract our community from the real scandal.
Today's arrest and the dominoes that will fall as a result, will help set the record straight.
While the political pressure and attacks on me have also been difficult to take, they don't even compare to the damage these corrupt double-dealers have done to North Miami. I spoke up and did what was right for a simple reason -- corruption and illegal dealing cannot be tolerated or seen as "just part of the process."
It's not. And as long as I am honored with the public trust, I will not stand for even a moment of it. Today, the first round of justice is being served in North Miami.