Tales of Teele: Sleaze Stories

Art Teele is a man of very big appetites, and because of them he is now in very big trouble. As the investigative report below indicates, the once-powerful politician is possessed of a seemingly insatiable craving for all things illicit -- adulterous sex, illegal drugs, bribery and extortion.

Three weeks ago the U.S. Attorney charged Teele with 26 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering -- all arising from schemes at Miami International Airport. Those allegations followed earlier criminal charges brought by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. On March 2, Teele was convicted of threatening a police officer after confronting undercover cops who were shadowing him as part of the corruption investigation reprinted here, which resulted in ten felony counts of unlawful compensation. An October trial date has been set in that case.

The Teele investigation was initiated by the State Attorney's Office, which used Miami-Dade Police Department detectives to do the legwork. Police reports generally do not make for lively reading. This one is different. It reads like a work of fiction. And for many people who thought they knew Arthur E. Teele, Jr., the report may as well be fiction, for it's hard to believe one man could inhabit so many different personas, live so many different lives simultaneously.

The dispassionate tone of the writing -- authentic cop talk -- only heightens the reading experience: understated but over-the-top. Less than half the full report is presented here, and although it has been edited and rearranged for easier understanding, the words are those of the police themselves, principally Det. Juan Koop of the department's Public Corruption Investigations Bureau.

CASE NUMBER: PCIB 03-111.047

Investigation into allegations of corruption within the City of Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) began on December 12, 2003, when Assistant State Attorney (ASA) Richard Scruggs requested that the Miami-Dade Police Department's Public Corruption Investigations Bureau investigate allegations made by City of Miami Auditor General Victor Igwe. On October 22, 2003, Mr. Igwe published an in-depth audit of the CRA detailing suspicious expenditures, questionable hiring practices, and irregular business transactions. In response to ASA Scruggs's request, detectives from the Public Corruption Investigations Bureau examined the allegations in Mr. Igwe's audit report.

The suspicion of criminal acts was confirmed when the target of an unrelated corruption investigation, Evens Thermilus, was charged and subsequently agreed to testify truthfully concerning the CRA investigation. This investigator has spent dozens of hours interviewing Evens Thermilus and analyzing documents, which he has provided. As stated in previous reports, Mr. Thermilus pled guilty to one count of Organized Scheme to Defraud in an unrelated investigation involving corruption at the Miami International Airport. Mr. Thermilus entered a plea of guilty pursuant to a plea agreement that required that he testify truthfully concerning his knowledge and/or involvement in any illegal acts by any public officials or government employees.


On July 7, 2004, at approximately 7:00 a.m., a surveillance was established at Plaza Venetia located at 555 N.E. 15 Street, Miami, FL, the residence where City of Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele resides. The surveillance was conducted by Sergeant J. Plasencia, Detective J. Koop, Detective M. Martinez, Detective B. Guerrero, and this investigator (Detective L. Gonzalez).

7:00 a.m. Detective Koop observed Commissioner Teele's dark blue Buick Park Avenue parked in the valet area of the Plaza Venetia.

1:22 p.m. Sergeant Plasencia observed Commissioner Teele leaving the Plaza Venetia in the Buick Park Avenue.

1:30 p.m. Detective Guerrero observed Commissioner Teele arrive at 4646 N.W. 17 Avenue, Miami. The commissioner, who was wearing a gray colored suit, exited his vehicle and entered the Band Box Barber Shop.

1:52 p.m. Detective Koop observed a black Ford Explorer with a police blue light on the dashboard arrive at 4646 N.W. 17 Avenue, Miami. A black male wearing a green colored suit with a white shirt exited that vehicle and entered the Band Box Barber Shop.

2:00 p.m. Commissioner Teele and the black male exited the Band Box Barber Shop and walked over to the Park Avenue. Commissioner Teele opened the rear door and retrieved documents, which he gave to the black male. Commissioner Teele and the black male had a brief conversation and they left the area in their respective vehicles.

2:23 p.m. Detective Guerrero observed Commissioner Teele arrive at city hall. Commissioner Teele parked in front of the building and proceeded to enter.

5:45 p.m. The surveillance was discontinued from city hall.


Assistant State Attorney Richard Scruggs provided these investigators with a brief overview of specific incidents that he believes are very suspicious in nature and are most likely to result in a criminal prosecution.

The CRA purchased five different parcels of land and constructed parking lots on these lots. Since the day these parking lots were constructed, they appear to have never been used. There is no apparent reason as to why these parking lots were constructed because there is no shortage of parking and no buildings to justify the additional parking spaces. Also adding to the suspicion of wrongdoing is the fact that parking lot #5 was sold for $50,000; however, it cost the CRA a total of $150,000 to build.

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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.