North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre Played $29,000 of Soccer For Free on City Field

Anyone who plays soccer in Miami knows how frustrating it is to find a good game; fields are scarce, so either you pony up the cash for an organized game or you play free pickup on some forlorn, lumpy turf that hasn't been mowed since the Carter Administration. As mayor of North Miami, Andre Pierre apparently decided he was above the struggles of most weekend midfielders.

Pierre and his pals instead played dozens of games on a pristine city field without paying rental rates, to the tune of $29,000 worth of pickup games, the Miami Herald reports. The mayor even seems to have used a questionable nonprofit to hide his free futbol habits.

"This is a very clear violation. It's so blatant because it's so open," Bob Jarvis, a professor who teaches ethics at Nova Southeastern, tells the Herald.

Pierre didn't respond to the daily's calls; Riptide has also sent him an email asking for comment on why he thought it was OK to waive field fees for his mayoral footie team. We'll update this post if we hear back.

The mayor and his friends used the North Miami Athletic Fields -- a really nice, artificial turf facility on NE 151st Street -- 78 times between Oct.r 2009 and Sept. 2011, the Herald found. That's $29,000 worth of playtime.

Then, starting in Sept. 2011, the hilariously named North Miami Taxpayer's Soccer Club -- which includes Pierre as a member -- started playing for free on the fields.

City manager Stephen Johnson claims he authorized the free play because the club is a "good cause." What cause, exactly? It's not clear because the group isn't actually a registered nonprofit. Presumably, the cause is getting Pierre a few goals without paying $20 a week.

In case you've missed the ongoing saga of Pierre, Dade's shadiest mayor, the soccer field shenanigans join a long list of questionable behavior by the leader of Miami's fifth largest city.

He's driven a mysteriously donated Porsche, given out thousands of dollars of fake police badges and been tied to a bribery case against his nephew and campaign manager. He's let his own house go into foreclosure, steered thousands in city contracts toward former law clients, and been caught on tape talking about a shady city services vote.

The soccer games, meanwhile, go on -- the North Miami Taxpayer's Soccer Club has the fields reserved for free through April 6, the Herald writes.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink