Armando Codina Is "Disappointed" With Prosecutor Richard Scruggs

As jury selection continues in the bribery and grand theft trial of suspended Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, the prosecution's main witness, prominent developer Armando Codina, gave new testimony that pokes holes in the state's case. Trial is set to begin next week.

In a deposition taken this past February 16, Codina -- a former business partner of Jeb Bush -- implies that Miami-Dade State Attorney Richard Scruggs misled him into believing Spence-Jones stole $12,500 he had donated for an event honoring former County Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler.

Scruggs brought Codina in for a second interview because he had heard the developer was "angry" or "upset" with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. Codina informed Scruggs he was "disappointed" not angry with Scruggs' comportment when he initially brought criminal charges against Spence-Jones early last year.

"You told me there had not been an event," Codina told Scruggs. "You told me that the charity was a fake and that she had used the money as her own piggybank...that no event had taken place and that she had pocketed the money."

To recap, prosecutors allege that Spence-Jones asked Codina for a $25,000 contribution to her nonprofit agency, Friends of MLK Trust, that was hosting an event for Carey-Shuler, Spence-Jones' mentor and the star witness in another separate public corruption case against the indicted city official.

She asked for the donation around the time Codina and a business partner, Ricardo Glas, were seeking a city commission vote to rename part

of SE 2nd Ave as ``Brickell Avenue" to help boost an office-hotel complex with which the developers were involved. Both men cut $12,500 checks for the Carey-Shuler gala.

When he was initially interviewed by Scruggs, and again on February 16, Codina emphatically said he did not expect a quid pro quo from Spence-Jones. And since the first interview Codina told Scruggs on February 16: "I know there was an event."

Under questioning by Spence-Jones' attorney Peter Raben, Codina said he did not believe he was a victim of theft. "I did think I had been defrauded at one time," Codina testified, referring to his first meeting with Scruggs. Now, he said, "I don't think I have been defrauded." Based on Codina's statement, Raben is filing a motion to dismiss the grand theft charges against Spence-Jones. 

You can read the entire deposition below:
codina depo
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.