Not a Commie, but ...

Jacqueline Carini

Oscar Corral has written reams on Fidel Castro, Miami’s exiles, and the many controversies that roil South Florida’s most powerful immigrant community.

A handsome 32-year-old Miami Herald reporter who married eight years ago and bought a half million dollar home in posh Coral Gables before age 30, he seems to have lived a charmed life. The Miami SunPost even did a cover story on him titled, “I am not a Communist.” Tens of thousands of his pictures of him - sipping a coffee -- were on newsstands across the city.

One quote from that story sticks out: “Having roots in a community makes you sensitive to that community; I think it’s people who have roots here who are most appreciative of what I do. No one wants to see their city turned to crap. People like to know there are journalists out there, prosecutors, artists, etc. who are trying to do the right thing for their city. Hopefully.”

The day after publication, though, he was popped in the city’s western reaches negotiating the price of a a blow job with accused 18-year-old prostitute Yamilet Lopez. He was driving a black Acura. An undercover cop heard the conversation. (It came to $50) Corral was one of 13 people arrested as part of a regular sting, Miami police say. One arrestee was a pimp. The rest were accused Johns and hookers.

According to a police report, Yamilet Lopez said: "This is only my second time prostituting. I only did it because I need to pay the rent."

The Herald published an unbylined brief on the bust Tuesday.

The local blogs are going wild with the news. Commenters on Babalu take delight in what more than one called a “schadenfreude moment.”

“Cluck-cluck,” writes Alberto de la Cruz. “I hear the chickens approaching--coming home to roost… Oh well, such is life. One day you're on top spitting down on the community that raised you and the next day, you're down in the dirt.”

Jorge Luis wonders “why the Herald didn't publish his mugshot, as they did with the reporters in Corral's TV Marti ‘expose.’” Corral “sure is a consistent destroyer of reputations, this time his own,” he writes. “Karma.”

Ruth quotes Shakespeare: “There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will,” and other posters pick up the Hamlet and run with it: "Foul deeds will rise, though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes." (Luis, again.) “So oft it chances in particular men that for some vicious mole of nature in them … shall in the general censure take corruption from that particular fault,” writes George Moneo, before transitioning from Shakespeare to Richard Pryor: “And if he gets an STD, he can go to Cuba for free medical care! To quote Richard Pryor, ‘You see, the shit works out just fine!’”

Steve Klotz kicks off the commentary on Stuck on the Palmetto: “He said he's innocent? He took a stand? Remarkable!”

“Nonee Moose” offers a clarification (“ was hard-line media whores that were being solicited”), Alex offers a potential explanation (“I'd think he could have been working on an article (that's probably what his innocence claim hints at) but in that case why doesn't the paper say it in the note?”), and “The Real John Longfellow” offers a rare dose of innocent-until-proven-guilty: “Just b/c some fat corrupt Miami cop arrest you does not mean you are guilty. Hell, it seems that the Miami cops spend most of the time investigating and arresting themselves!!”

Several people interviewed at the Herald say they were astounded by the arrest. “He is such a mild mannered guy,” said one. “It just doesn’t seem right.”

Corral, who professed his innocence in the Herald, didn’t return a phone message left at his home.

Update: Charges were later dismissed against Corral.

--Chuck Strouse and Frank Houston

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Frank Houston