Questionable dealings follow Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina

In 1993, long before Julio Robaina dreamed about creating a more ethical and accountable county government, state business regulators sanctioned the Hialeah mayor for dishonest dealings with a property owner for whom he was working. Robaina agreed to pay a $2,000 fine, but he didn't admit or deny the allegations, according to a stipulation agreement reached with Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Now, the Cuban American Republican wants to run for county mayor, Miami-Dade's top political post. And he has promised to bring reforms to County Hall such as prohibiting outside income for Miami-Dade elected officials and making the Office of Inspector General fully independent of the county.

But while he's laying out his platform, Robaina may want to address what happened after a 1992 verbal agreement to manage a property owned by one Antonio Lopez-Diaz of Puerto Rico.

According to a state administrative complaint, Robaina received a check for $10,267.88 from Lopez-Diaz's insurance company on October 15, 1992, to cover repair of the property's roof, damaged by Hurricane Andrew. The complaint alleges that "without the knowledge or consent of the owner, respondent Julio A. Robaina endorsed the owner's name to the insurance check and deposited it into respondent's escrow account."

A year later, Lopez-Diaz fired Robaina and reported him to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. When a state investigator delivered a subpoena on November 5, 1993, for Robaina's escrow and property management records, "respondent produced some fragmentary bank statements and cancelled checks... but did not produce all the records directed by the subpoena," the complaint claims. On December 10, Robaina gave Lopez-Diaz's new property manager a check for $10,267.88.

The department's investigation determined Robaina had committed ten violations of Florida's administrative code, including dishonest dealing, failing to maintain trust funds, and failing to comply with a subpoena. On July 18, 1994, Robaina signed a stipulation agreement that required him to pay a $2,000 fine.

New Times provided copies of the complaint to Robaina and his representatives and requested a comment on this story. We have not heard back from the mayor or his aide.

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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.

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