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| Columns |

Marc Sarnoff Uses Taxpayer-Funded Lawyer For Personal Battle

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On Dec. 14, Miami Police officers

hauled off Reid Welch to jail because he sent his nemesis, Miami city

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, an email. According to his arrest report,

Welch violated a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from

contacting Sarnoff and his wife.

Welch's arrest is the latest skirmish

involving the commissioner and his propane-huffing nemesis, whose

lawyer Jason Wandner argues Sarnoff is abusing city resources to build a case

against his client.

Sarnoff is represented by assistant city attorney

George Wysong even though the commissioner's ongoing battle with

Welch is a personal matter that is unrelated to city business.

"I've

filed a motion to have Wysong disqualified," Wandner says. "Mr.

Sarnoff is not entitled to a free city lawyer for a private court

battle."

Furthermore, Wysong is the assitant city attorney who represents the Miami Police Department, which has previously identified Welch as Sarnoff's victim. "Wysong has a conflict of interest," Wandner says.

During Sarnoff's re-election run, Welch was riding around Coconut Grove's residential streets tearing down and defacing the commissioner's campaign signs that had been placed on public rights-of-way.

On Oct. 30, Sarnoff and Welch got into a brief scuffle. According to a Miami Police incident report, Welch was identified as the "victim." He alleged Sarnoff tackled him and then threatened to kill him.

Almost a month later, Sarnoff and his wife successfully obtained a temporary restraining order against Welch, which prohibited him from coming within 500 feet of the couple. He was also barred from sending them emails or writing about them on an online cycling message board.

Sarnoff now alleges Welch violated the restraining order a week ago when he sent him an email. "The content of the electronic mail leads the victim to a specific blog in which a clear message is sent to the victim," the police report states, although it does not specify if Welch actually threatened Sarnoff.

Wandner claims his client is at unfair disadvantage since Sarnoff's lawyer also represents the Miami Police Department. "Reid went to the city clerk's office to obtain information for his defense," Wandner says. "He was informed in writing that he had to go to the Miami Police Department. The clerk carbon copied Wysong so he immedietly knew what we were looking for."

Welch's lawyer also suspects Wysong may have directly contacted the cops to arrest his client without first obtaining a warrant. Wysong could not be reached for comment. His boss, City Attorney Julie Bru, has repeatedly ignored our messages asking her why Wysong is representing Sarnoff. 


Reached on his cellphone, the commissioner says the city attorney's office is representing him because the only reason Welch is harassing him is because he is an elected official. "He wouldn't be bothering me if I wasn't a commissioner," Sarnoff says. "So it is a city issue."

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