Thanks to Jorge Gonzalez, Miami Beach Is Now Dade's Most Corrupt Town

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Among Gonzalez's dubious achievements:

• His pick to head the troubled Building Department was canned after admitting to double-billing taxpayers for more than $154,000.

• His cops have been charged with harassing gays, shooting innocent bystanders, drunken joyriding that nearly killed a beachgoer, and drinking on the job.

• Prosecutors probed whether he extorted thousands of dollars in free tickets from the New World Symphony.

• His procurement director resigned over ties to a felonious developer and accusations of ethics breaches in a convention center renovation project.

• The FBI busted five of his code compliance officers and a firefighter for accepting bribes from clubs, and another firefighter for helping to arrange cocaine shipments.

One question remains: What the hell happened?

Interviews with insiders and commissioners paint a picture of a sordid free fall as scandals bedeviled nearly every department. Gonzalez, who was paid more than the vice president of the United States and will draw a six-figure pension after he leaves office July 8, fostered the problems by creating a culture of fear in a hierarchy with few checks and balances.

"I was not given information, I was lied to, and I was misled regularly," Commissioner Ed Tobin says. "The system has some flaws, but this was all on Jorge."

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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