Meet Antonio Junior, But Don't Call Him a Bagman

Well, at least Antonio Junior can take solace in knowing he made a killing as a minority partner in several deals involving Miami-Dade taxpayer money. 

And even though he ratted out his political godmother -- ex-county Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler -- and some of his other politically connected buddies (according to a recently released report by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office), Junior can also take comfort in knowing he squealed on them long after the statute of limitations had run out. 

Junior's ride on the county gravy train came to an end in 2004 when he was busted, along with 26 other defendants, in the infamous fuel farm scheme at the airport. Junior was accused of securing a lucrative contract for a construction company in exchange for a $70,000 kickback. 

He pleaded guilty to commercial bribery last year and was sentenced to six months of house arrest and two years' probation. He also has to pay $20,000 in restitution and investigation costs. Part of his plea deal required him to spill the beans on other shady deals he was involved with.

One of those deals was a controversial no-bid contract the county awarded Junior and five other county hall insiders in 1999 to build the Martin Luther King Jr. office building in Liberty City. Last year, one of the business partners, William "Bill" Perry III, sued Junior, Otis Pitts Jr., Dewey Knight III, Alben Duffie, and Raul Masvidal. Perry claimed he was never paid his cut in the deal.

Well, this past August 29, Junior informed public corruption prosecutor Richard Scruggs and state investigator Robert Fiedler that he and his five partners got the MLK deal because of their connections. 

Junior said he received his cut through Carey-Shuler, while county Commissioner Dorrin Rolle wanted to include Perry, Pitts, Duffie, and Knight. Masvidal was added, Junior alleged, to make then-Mayor Alex Penelas happy. For his part in the MLK deal, Junior said, he gave Carey-Shuler numerous money orders for various amounts at her direction.

A source close to the investigation told me the State Attorney's Office believes Junior knew the statute of limitations had run out, so none of the people he talked about could be prosecuted for any crimes. Nevertheless, Junior tried to make it appear he had a falling out with Carey-Shuler when he met with Scruggs. He told the veteran prosecutor he was "upset" that in the community he had been identified as her "bagman."

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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.