On Feb. 14, Marc Sarnoff was on the
witness stand, being cross-examined by the attorney representing Reid
Welch, the Coconut Grove resident whom the Miami city
commissioner and his wife are trying to stop from ever harassing them. Things got a little testy when the lawyer,
Jason Wandner, suggested there was nothing wrong with his client or
any constituent cursing at Sarnoff. "I don't know, do you like to
be called a motherfucker or a dick sucker?" Sarnoff retorted sarcastically.
already obtained a temporary restraining order, which Welch allegedly
violated for the second time last week landing him in jail. Welch
and the Sarnoffs are due back in court on March 26. But before he landed in the pokey again, Welch uploaded more than three hours of the commissioner's testimony during the initial hearing to grant the Sarnoffs a permanent injunction against him.
Under oath, Sarnoff -- who won't be criminally charged for allegedly assaulting Welch this past Oct. 29 -- described how he met Reid and how the relationship deteriorated to the point that his propane-huffing antagonist would leave him voice mails calling him "a motherfucker" and "cop cock sucker."
When he moved to Miami in 1987, Welch was one of the first people Sarnoff met. Both men had gym memberships at the defunct Grove Nautilus inside Mayfair. "He was a much larger individual," Sarnoff said of Welch. "He looked like a body builder. He had a fuller figure and a bigger chest. He doesn't look emaciated as he does now."
Aside from working out, Sarnoff claimed he may have gone bicycle riding through the Grove with Welch on a few occasions. But a year-and-half later, Sarnoff said, he lost contact with Welch even though his gym pal only lived a block and a half away in a $1.3 million four bedroom estate on Hardie Road.
Sarnoff didn't speak to Welch again until one day in 2008, but he could not recall the exact date. He said Welch took him for a ride in a fully restored vintage Ford Model A car. "He was very proud of it," Sarnoff said. "He drove me for two or three blocks. During that time he told me he had some health issues, but he didn't get into specifics."
(By then, Welch started having trouble with the law. He was busted for cocaine possession on Nov. 7, 2008. In a story published this past September, Welch claimed the arresting officers gave him a "near fatal beating." A year later, Welch was arrested four times, including felony battery of an elderly person. He received probation and six months of anger management classes).
In 2009, Sarnoff (who is a lawyer) said a distressed Welch came to his house seeking to hire him. Welch wanted to sue the city of Miami Police Department over alleged harassment he had experienced at the hands of cops in Coconut Grove. "He had become emaciated," Sarnoff said. "He was 40 pounds lighter and he told me he had lupus like symptoms and that he had fits of delusion."
Sarnoff confirmed that he rebuffed Welch's request. "I told him I couldn't represent him because I am a commissioner," Sarnoff said. "I told him there are plenty of other attorneys in Miami. The phone book is full of them."
Sarnoff didn't hear from Welch again until last summer when he began receiving vulgar voice mails and emails from his antagonist, the commissioner testified.
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"He would always start by saying we were friends," Sarnoff said. "Then he would say 'you betrayed me, you have forsaken me.' It would end in hyperbole like 'you are a mother fucker' and 'you suck cops' cocks."
In September, October and November of last year, Sarnoff asserted that Welch's harassment escalated. "Reid was at my house every day," Sarnoff said. "He would be in the park. He would have a paper bag and two canisters of propane gas. I saw him finish one. It would affect him significantly."
Sarnoff claimed Welch approached him one day in October and told him: "I am going to put my foot so far up your ass I am going to touch your tonsils." The final straw came on Nov. 8 when Welch left him a cryptic voicemail saying he was going to "die a slow painful death."