The Internal Revenue Service is investigating the City of North Miami and has requested reams of documents related to the town's payroll and social security payments. In a letter addressed to the city manager, later published on Scribd by Commissioner Scott Galvin, the agency informs the city -- which has been plagued with numerous recent scandals, including the previous mayor getting indicted this May -- that it must turn over records from 2012 pertaining to 20 individuals and eight city vendors.
Galvin tells Riptide that so far it isn't clear exactly what spurred the investigation. "The IRS is not laying all their cards on the table, which is understandable," he says.
The letter to City Manager Aleem Ghany was dated August 26; Ghany then shared the letter with the mayor and city commissioners September 2.
Galvin added that the IRS's request for records related to eight vendors was particularly curious because several of the companies listed appeared to have dissolved before 2012, the year the IRS is focusing on. "So now I'm asking, 'Why are we paying vendors if they don't exist, and what did we pay them for?'" Galvin asks.
Pam Soloman, the city's spokeswoman, has one theory about the request: The city may have simply been selected at random by the IRS for a spot review, she tells the Herald.
If so, it would be quite a coincidence that the feds just happened to zero in on one of Miami-Dade's most troubled municipalities.
North Miami's recent run of scandals and financial improprieties date back to early 2011, when then-mayor Andre Pierre was caught using taxpayer money to order 43 fake police badges handed out to supporters and cronies. He was accused of numerous other improper actions, including steering $160,000 to two businessmen he represented as an attorney, driving a Porsche without disclosing who gave it to him, and giving a former law partner valuable city land to try to develop an indoor ski slope. Then, this May, his successor, Lucie Tondreau was indicted on $8 million mortgage fraud charges.
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According to the city manager's letter to city officials, the IRS agent leading the investigation will meet with North Miami financial officials September 18 to discuss the review, which Galvin says is still in its early stages.
"I just don't know where it's all going to go," he says.