Cesar Carasa's smooth tongue didn't do him any good in court. Late yesterday, a Miami-Dade
jury found the former West Miami mayor guilty of exploiting his official position. The loquacious Cuban American politician ran up more than $70,000 in calls to women in the Dominican Republic on his city-issued cell-phone. Prosecutors convinced jurors that Carasa then directed West Miami employees to have Sprint waive or reduce the cell phone charges.
Shortly after his arrest, New Times
interviewed a few of the women Carasa had dialed in the DR, including one young lady who claimed to have been his girlfriend for a brief period of time. Gov. Charlie Crist suspended him from office, but that didn't stop Carasa from running for reelection. He lost.
The investigation was conducted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Miami-Dade ethics commission. Following the verdict, state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued the following statement:
It is bad enough for a public official to use his city tools, in this case his cell phone, for personal use, But trying to have the city eliminate a personal debt only compounded this misuse of office and justifiably outraged the people of the City of West Miami.