Joe Centorino

For the past thirteen years he's worked in the public-corruption unit of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, the last six of them as its chief. Joe Centorino has seen his office grow from a part-time operation to a staff of nine attorneys who do nothing but investigate and prosecute public officials. That's a disheartening growth curve, to be sure, but the results have been refreshing: dozens of indictments and convictions, all of which have raised the public's awareness of and intolerance for corruption. From bad cops to crooked politicians, from minor indiscretions to major felonies -- all pass over Centorino's desk. He sifts through hundreds of tips and scores of investigations before making the life-altering decision to charge people with high crimes or misdemeanors. Pressure? You bet. And that's not all. As he said at a recent forum: "All public officials have lots of friends. If you go after someone, you make enemies." To survive this long under these conditions requires a thick hide and some proven methods of stress relief.

The best ways he's found to decompress from stress and chill out in Miami:

Out of the home: "Listening to audiotaped courses while driving on I-95 (it is pretty easy to ignore road maniacs when you are thinking about Plato)."

And when he leaves terra firma, he likes to take "a slow trip by outboard over to Whiskey Creek at John U. Lloyd State Park in Hollywood on a weekend."

Culturally: "Just about anything produced at New Theatre in Coral Gables." Gastronomically: "Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop (when I am looking for the antithesis of the power lunch). I usually get the chicken steak at Enriqueta's, though I enjoy watching others eat less healthful things."

In the home: "I do my reading everywhere and anywhere there is time or space, during lunch breaks, in bathrooms, in the car (audiotapes), even during moments of late- night insomnia." On the list: "The novels of Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner, anything written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the New York Times Book Review."

And finally some truly decompressing activities: "Listening to folky Sixties music [and] talking with my secret guru."

On top of all that: If the office must become home, make the best of it: He does "anything that will make my secretary laugh. I do various things with the secretaries to make them laugh, one of which was an imitation of Barry White."