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5 posts from October 19, 2013

October 19, 2013

Miami Beach 'Boob God' won't hold Halloween fete

@cveiga

The Real Housewives of Miami cast member Lisa Hochstein and her plastic-surgeon hubby, Leonard “The Boob God,” won’t be hosting their annual Halloween fundraiser, which benefits organizations like the Humane Society or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Blame the Miami Herald.

Leonard Hochstein called a Herald reporter to ask whether she’d agree to not write about the event, which he said would be held at the Star Island home they recently purchased. The home has been at the center of an ongoing controversy because the Hochsteins want to tear it down, but preservationists are fighting to save it.

Hochstein said his lawyer advised him against throwing the fundraiser because it could generate bad press. To justify demolishing the house, the Hochsteins have said it is unsafe, a claim that might be undermined by using the place for a party as they did earlier this year.

When the Herald refused to agree to stifle any coverage of the event, Leonard Hochstein said he would call the director of Make-A-Wish to say the event was off because of the newspaper.

No word on why the Hochsteins can’t throw the bash at their Sunset Island manse, where they actually live. That property is assessed at $6 million, according to county records.

--CHRISTINA VEIGA

Miami-Dade School Board member passes bar exam

@NewsbySmiley

It’s not the FCAT, but Miami-Dade School Board member Marta Pérez has passed a crucial exam: the Florida Bar.

Pérez, 62, took the test in July but learned only recently that she’d passed. Friends and colleagues honored a surprised Pérez at the school board’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

Pérez studied family and constitutional law at the St. Thomas University School of Law as a part-time student for several years and graduated in May. She also holds a doctorate in education from the University of Miami.

She was inducted to the bar late last month, according to her office.

--DAVID SMILEY

In Miami Beach, a mayoral race as lively as the city

@cveiga

Miami Beach’s mayoral election has attracted the kind of star power and money that has come to be expected of the million-dollar sandbar.

Former President Bill Clinton has dropped by, and eclectic Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson has weighed in. More than a million bucks in campaign expenditures have been made in the fight to become mayor of this brand-name city of 90,000.

The gig pays $10,000 a year, and the mayor only gets one vote out of seven on the commission. The job comes with no executive authority.

Hoping to land the post: former comedian Steve Berke, current city Commissioner Michael Góngora and self-made multi-millionaire Philip Levine.

Perennial, fringe candidate Raphael Herman also is running. He claims to have killed Osama Bin Laden, solved the Cuban Missile Crisis and to have come up with President John F. Kennedy’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

More here.

Politically connected Dade Medical College CEO accused of covering up criminal past

@MrMikeVasquez

Ernesto Perez is the politically influential CEO of Dade Medical College — but also, he is a man with a criminal past.

Perez’s apparent failure to acknowledge his old brushes with the law, even in sworn statements to the government, has now led to a new batch of criminal charges.

Miami-Dade prosecutors on Friday charged Perez, 44, with two counts of perjury, a misdemeanor, and one count of providing false information through a sworn statement, which is a third-degree felony.

Perez has yet to turn himself in to authorities. Reached by phone on Friday, Perez said he was traveling outside the country, but that if any forms were filled out incorrectly, the errors were simply an oversight and an “honest mistake.”

“We have a lot of papers that cross our office on a daily basis,” Perez said, declining further comment.

More here.

FBI investigating Sweetwater mayor's ties to towing company

@BrendaMedinar @msanchezMIA

The FBI is investigating former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño’s connections to a towing company and its dealings in his own city and Doral.

FBI agents have questioned local officials, police officers and others about Southland The Towing Company, which Maroño once owned while he was serving as mayor, focusing on whether there has been any official misconduct related to the towing of cars and payment of fines.

The FBI’s Miami regional office declined to comment about the existence of an investigation.

Southland, which public records show was formerly owned by Maroño in 2009, struck an “oral agreement” that year to tow cars in Sweetwater, although city has been unable to provide any records about this deal.

Records show that Maroño also represented Southland The Towing Company during negotiations with the city of Doral, where the towing business operated through a pilot program that began in July 2009 and ended just weeks after his August arrest in a federal corruption case.

More here.