Sex, Lies, and City Hall
If you think Bill Clinton has suffered for his marital indiscretions, you haven't heard about Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado's problems. Four years after he obtained a criminal restraining order against his former lover, Regalado is still dealing with the fallout from an extramarital affair.
In April Elba Miriam Mor sued Regalado and his wife Raquel in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, seeking more than $15,000 in damages. Mor claims that soon after the eighteen-month affair was exposed in 1995, the Regalados ruined her reputation. She claims the couple convinced prosecutors to accuse her of stalking and assault. Those charges were eventually dropped, but not before Mor was "held up to public repute and shame and humiliation," and "suffered the loss of public esteem and business resulting from the false ridicule," according to her lawsuit.
This is the same Elba Miriam Mor who pleaded guilty last year to voter fraud, admitting she illegally signed her name as a witness on two absentee ballots in support of incarcerated former Commissioner Humberto Hernandez. She was sentenced to a year's probation, including a month of house arrest.
"The whole lawsuit is just a ridiculous waste of justice-system time and energy for all involved," says Jonathan Colby, attorney for the Regalados. "I don't know why she's putting herself back in the political spotlight after what she's already gone through." Colby surmises that Mor is a spurned lover who has an almost cinematic obsession with the politician.
"She's got a fatal attraction to Mr. Regalado," Colby says, referencing the Hollywood movie where a scorned mistress brings an obsession to rabbit-boiling intensity. The Regalados declined to comment for this article, as did Arthur Tifford, Mor's attorney. Tifford also refused to allow Mor to be interviewed.
Tomas Regalado has admitted that, before he was elected to the city commission, he engaged in an affair with Mor, beginning in 1993. "I never could have imagined that she would have been so belligerent and so violent and so threatening [as] she has been," he testified at a 1995 court hearing.
His wife discovered the relationship in April 1995, and, she told Miami police officers, promptly received a threat from Mor: "Now that you know who I am, I'm going to break you and make you powder." Five days later, on April 17, Raquel was entering her car after work when Mor's dark-blue Mercedes charged at her in an attempt to hit her, she says.
Mor was arrested and charged with stalking and assault. A judge ordered her not to go within 1500 feet of the Regalados and their children.
At a bond hearing in June 1995, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Amy Karan determined Mor violated the order. A transcript of that hearing presents plenty of specifics. For instance Raquel says on April 21, 1995, she was on her way to pick up her son from karate practice when Mor "followed me and put down her window and said: 'I'm going to ruin your reputation and then I'm going to break all your bones, and then I'm going to pay someone to kill you.'" The Regalados' grown son Tomas Jr. also allegedly received a death threat from Mor. Witnesses asserted that Mor frequently used the telephone to harass both Tomas and Raquel Regalado.
After the hearing Judge Karan placed Mor under house arrest in her condo at The Grand. Karan later vacated that ruling when Mor's attorney presented evidence that Raquel Regalado had been repeatedly calling Mor at her workplace, Doctor's Health Group, Inc. One week before the case was to go to trial, prosecutors dropped the charges.
Hence the current lawsuit. Mor, through her attorney, is claiming Raquel concocted the accusations of stalking and assault. "What you've heard, your honor, is little more than a hysterical wife, a woman scorned, who differs with the lady about an affair her husband has had," Tifford argued at the 1995 bond hearing, "and I suggest to you that if you're the judge trying this case, you're going to hear a lot more about Mr. Regalado's philanderings and his wife having to deal with that rather than an extreme mode of conduct by [Mor]."
Mor's position is supported by messages left by Tomas Regalado on Mor's answering machine. Transcripts of these messages, which have been obtained by New Times, reveal Regalado to be friendly and affectionate toward Mor in dozens of phone calls made immediately prior to Mor's arrest.
"Hello, I am at the movies with my son. I will call you later. I love you," Regalado said on March 27, 1995. Four hours later, he left an update. "I am eating with my son at Fuddrucker's and I thought you would be in.... Maybe you are in church at this time. I will try to call you later. If not I am going to sleep because I am really tired. I will call you." On March 30 he left five messages including this cryptic recording: "You are imperfect. You are imperfect. You are just like the phone, but I love you."
Whatever the prior relationship between Regalado and his mistress, Colby claims Mor's lawsuit is frivolous. In May he filed a motion to have it dismissed. He says he expects the case will be thrown out within a month.