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With Friends Like These

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Q: Mr. Mas said he would?
A: Mr. Mas said he would take care of Mr. Diaz de la Portilla at the appropriate time electorally. In other words, they would run someone against him and go after him and defeat him. That's what he was saying.

...
Q: Did Mayor Penelas at the meeting talk about the political ramifications of allowing Church & Tower to continue doing the work?

A: Yes.
Q: What did he say?
A: He said that he thought that the entire incident surrounding the contract was an embarrassment to both the county and the company and the subcontractors, and that his interest was to see that the taxpayers got their money back, and that he agreed with the manager that the work should not continue under the contract. And he also mentioned that Church & Tower should have agreed voluntarily to the [inspector general] when it was brought up, that this kind of snowballing effect is what led this incident to become as controversial as it was.

Q: Let me go back to the question I asked. Did the mayor talk about the [political] ramifications of allowing Church & Tower to continue doing the work?

A: Yes. He said he thought that it would be an embarrassment to the county to allow them to continue doing work.

Q: Did he say whether it would be politically bad for him or not?
A: I believe when he was speaking of the county he was speaking of himself as well.

Q: Did the mayor make mention of the fact that allowing Church & Tower to continue doing the work would provide political ammunition to Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla; did he say that at the meeting?

A: I don't recall specifically, but he may have made reference to that.

Typically during depositions, attorneys commonly tell their clients to answer questions as directly and as succinctly as possible and not to volunteer information. If May was given such advice, he obviously ignored it. Several times during his deposition, May -- who has a reputation as a political street fighter -- tried to throw a little mud on the Mas family for the embarrassment this lawsuit was causing him and Penelas. Indeed he went out of his way to put on the record comments Mas Jr. allegedly made about the Dade State Attorney's Office.

A: Mr. Mas Jr. made mention at that [November 1] meeting that the state attorney overseeing the investigation was no accident. He had implied that he had talked to the state attorney about actually taking that out of the county's hands.

Q: You said he implied. What did he say?
A: He said exactly that, that the fact that the state attorney has agreed to oversee the county's audit was no accident, that he had influenced that to happen.

Q: Did he say he had influenced that?
A: No, those weren't the exact words, but that's a paraphrase of what he said.

Q: Tell me as best you can what the words he said were.
A: That it was no accident.... I can't recall specifically the words that he used in his description other than he said it was no accident, and that he, and I believe he referenced Mr. [Hank] Adorno as well, had had discussions with the state attorney about overseeing the audit.

The State Attorney's Office and Hank Adorno deny May's assertion. "We didn't have any contact with the State Attorney's Office about taking over the investigation," Adorno says.

May also recounted another meeting, this one on November 18 in his office with Juan Carlos Mas and Adorno. The day before this meeting Penelas issued a memo rejecting all of the bids for a new paving contract Church & Tower was in line to win.

A: Mr. Mas was apoplectic I guess would be the best description.
Q: What is that?
A: Very upset, very emotional.
Q: What did he say?

A: He said that if the mayor did not turn this around, that he was going to go to Cuban radio and tell everybody that the county was corrupt all the way up to the mayor, including the mayor, and added that, whether it was true or not, he was going to go to the radio and say that, if the mayor did not reverse these actions.

Q: What did you say?
A: I felt a little bit intimidated by the conversation.
Q: Why?

A: The threat of a lawsuit being one and the tone and tenor of Mr. Mas's comments were a bit upsetting to me. I felt uncomfortable that he would be saying those things to me.

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Jim DeFede
Contact: Jim DeFede