Well-Paid Hialeah Cop Gets Free House From Hialeah Housing Authority

ponce.jpg
Hialeah Housing Authority Executive Director Julio Ponce speaks with a volunteer at Julio Robaina campaign HQ.
Raleigh Flowers lives in a three-bedroom condo with brand-new kitchen cabinets and freshly painted walls in a lushly landscaped residential development in west Hialeah. It is certainly a home fit for a Hialeah Police major earning at least $3,500 every two weeks. Except this cop doesn't have to pay rent. Flowers gets the unit for free from the Hialeah Housing Authority (HHA), even though the major already owns a two-bedroom house in the city of Miami, which he leases to a woman who pays a large portion of her $900 monthly rent with a federal government-funded subsidy.

So not only does Flowers get a free pad, but also he is earning a profit from a program meant to help folks who can't afford to pay for a home on their own. Flowers could not be reached for comment. But the Hialeah Housing Authority's executive director, Julio Ponce, tells Riptide he has no idea how a high-ranking officer could get such a sweetheart deal. "You are going down an avenue I have no knowledge of," Ponce says. "I didn't make the decision."

The HHA has a federally approved program that provides free living quarters to rank-and-file cops in units owned by the city's housing agency. Joel Bonilla, HHA's public housing director, says an officer's personal finances are not taken into consideration to qualify for the program. However, he did not explain why Flowers was picked over other officers on the waiting list.

According to Ponce's predecessor, Alex Morales, a police presence is meant to deter crime on HHA residential properties while allowing affordable-housing residents to build a rapport with the city's finest. Officers are expected to report any possible crimes and are not allowed to sublease their rent-free units. "It is a good program," Morales says. "However, it was never envisioned to go to commanders, deputy chiefs, or majors."

It seems Flowers and Morales go back. Flowers headed the cops' internal affairs division, which last year investigated Morales, an enemy of Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina. Ponce is Robaina's longtime friend, former business partner, and volunteer on his campaign for county mayor.

"Robaina and Ponce used Raleigh for their shenanigans," Morales says. "After I was fired, they had Raleigh sweep HHA headquarters for bugs. I find it ironic that Ponce now claims he doesn't know anything about the major's living arrangement."

According to HHA records, Flowers was approved for the condo this past March 10, one day after Ponce began his job as executive director. But Ponce insists he was not involved, claiming he was on jury duty for the first two days of his employment. "I didn't know Raleigh was involved with the program," Ponce says. "I don't even know the other officers who are in it."

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16 comments
Julio77653
Julio77653

With the amount of overtime and paid off-duty assignments these police perform, please tell me how many waking hours a day do they really spend "protecting" their section 8 housing?

Claudiafernandez1964
Claudiafernandez1964

Whether it's legal or not, the perception is not good. Look at the questions and comments. It brings up bad remarks and opinions. In my opinion it should not have been given to a high ranking officer making $3500 paychecks. It just looks bad. The people in power in Hialeah are infamous for doing favors and doing sketchy activities. This just looks like another sketchy activity whether it is or not.Like the old saying goes "Perception is reality"

Sharon
Sharon

It seems that the Hialeah Housing Authority has a history of doing favors for high rank officers. Because, I remember that a few years back the son (Daniel Bolanos) of the Chief of Police at that time was fired from the City of Hialeah Police Department and was rehired by the Hialeah Housing Authority's previous administration and Daniel Bolanos' only responsibility was to spend the entire day at Maruch's corner cafe mingling with his police buddies. What a shame.

Robert Lee
Robert Lee

That Robaina and Ponce are criminal cohorts, is beyond question. Though the facts are accurate in this story, facts often only describe a framework, a picture frame; but the picture within can be of a different color than portrayed by the facts. Raleigh Flowers is a damn good man, well respected by his peers. Often there is agitation between older,senior hispanic police officers; and younger, up and coming, black police officers. I asked a very senior, tough minded, hispanic detective how he liked his new position under a tougher, more hardnosed hispanic who had replaced Raleigh. This older latin detective had some less than pleasant comments about his new boss, but about Raleigh, "that man is a gentleman, I would work under him gladly anytime." Raleigh had essentially run the Hialeah Police Dept., as the administrative sergeant. (Police depts. are run by sergeants) Raleigh has raised adopted children, and raised his own children very well and very responsibly. Yes, he did purchase an investment home in the area. That the rent is being paid by a gov't agency is really not pertinent. This is the choice of the renter. Raleigh has been a damn good husband for a long time, even though he is handsome, physically fit , extremely intelligent and attractive. (to the ladies, thank you) He remainedfaithful in a difficult marriage. He no longer lives in this marriage home. His own children are grown , and the adopted daughter is beautiful, respectful and almost an adult. If a standing process was violated to allow Raleigh to jump the waiting list for HHA housing, then shame on him. Raleigh does not make the rules in Hialeah. If the referee, the umpire, the boss writes the rules; and you want to advance in the game, then you play by the rules;as long as you do not violate the law. If you lay down with dogs, then you get fleas. The Hialeah electorate hired a dog to run their city. If Raleigh has become tainted by this administration not of his choice; then I feel sorrow for this. Robaina and Ponce will not be in Hialeah, much longer; but I hope Raleigh remains for a long time. Regardless of the information provided in this accurate article; Raleigh Flowers is a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good cop, a good boss, a good administrator; and a damn good friend.Do not toss out the baby out with the dirty bath water. Send Robaina and Ponce to hell....but Raleigh Flowers is too good a man to lose.

Wow
Wow

Amazing, shocked, appalled and shamed there are so many people out there over 7,000 applicants waiting, City employees that don't make that money and took a 17 % pay cut and can't qualify. This is truly shameful. How does he get 3 bedrooms?

Osama Out!
Osama Out!

Why is this such a big deal. I meet Mr. Flowers and he is or seems to be a nice man. Lets be real here the only reason I believe there is any concern or issue is Mr Flowers is a Black man and one of your Cuban officers didnt get in. I know people that live in hialeah housing communities and there are several Cuban officers living there and it has never been a problem then, why now. I feel safe with having an Officer of the Law living in my community.

oracle15
oracle15

Cronyism to the max, Major Flowers is truly a sergeant with a trumped up made up position. There are more like it. Mr. Alvarado look into his and others trus rank and what they should be making. 4 Majors Six Commanders all conjured positions for Mr. Robaina's buddies. More money and power with them.

you suck
you suck

Wicho the only person that is illiterate is you.Just because you took the time to sit down and look at the dictionary does not make you literate. It's not even hand writing it's called typing, I think someone should go back to school.

Tom Stedham
Tom Stedham

This is a good story. People need to know about this kind of shady stuff. Don't listen to the haters! Keep up the good investigative reporting.

WICHO
WICHO

GREAT WE OFFER FREE HOUSING TO SOMEONE UNDER THE PREMISE THAT HE IS THEIR TO PROTECT? WHAT THEY WONT TELL YOU, JULIO PONCE AND THE ROBAINA CLAN IS THAT THIS POLICE OFFICER CONDUCTED PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS OF HIALEAH HOUSING EMPLOYEES WHILE ON THE CLOCK AS A HIALEH POLICE OFFICER. TWO DAYS AFTER PONCE COMES IN FROM WORKING ROBAINAS CAMPAIGN OR TAKING HIS KIDS TO SCHOOL OR PICKING UP HIS CLOTHES FROM THE LAUNDRY MAT THIS OFFICER GETS FREE HOUSING. PATHETIC!!!

WICHO
WICHO

Sam and you suck not only does your hand writing reveal that that you may have GED'S but it identifies as illiterate! Congratulations your in Robainas demographic.

you suck
you suck

Its shame that people have nothing else to do than try to get dirt and say things to hurt others. Before you write this article you should of dug more information, before you look so stupid with false imformation. You can tell you're not a good writer when all you do is get chisme from people that all they do is cause problems. What do you care if they have an officer living in the properties. Dont you get that it is to protect the tenants who live in the properties.You are so ignorant and tying to fit in the crowd that your making your self look bad listening to foolish people and there shenanigans like you say. So just to let you know this article was a waste of time and just to let you know. The officer is not only one with new cabinet and freshly painted walls. All apartments are have freshly painted walls and new cabinets etc. So I just had to sit hear and laugh at this ridiculous article. Francisco Alvarado you suck a reporter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sam
Sam

Mr. Francisco Alvarado, try to be a well informed reporter, and not just try to help your felon or almost felon buddies out with what seems to be dirt on the Hialeah Housing Authority. Please refer to the Federal Rules and Regulations on housing police officers.

Robert Lee
Robert Lee

I absolutely agree with you Claudia, the perception is not good; but salary was never a determining factor for this program. The idea of the officer in the neighborhood program was to get police officers to stay in public housing and on school grounds. The determining factor is when did this officer sign up on the waiting list, and I am not privy to that information. $3,500 does sound like a good chunk of change every two weeks; but it really doesn't go all that far, with two kids in college, a family home to maintain, an elderly mother to support, taxes.....yes the perception is not good. This is why I spoke up...or texted up, more accurately. I am saddened to have a damn good friend, a damn good man, to be tainted by "trusted" guardians of the public funds and well being. Ponce and Robaina have always been, and will always be, crooks. Real estate developers, builders, realtors, should never be elected to public office. It is a conflict of interest. Tired of the same ol' crooks in county hall....just don't elect new crooks.

Robert Lee
Robert Lee

Forgot one other important factor. Hialeah police are paid well below the local scale for police officers. A rank and file Miami Gardens officer can take home between $100,000 and $120,000. By working hard in Hialeah, overtime and extra-duty jobs; a Hialeah officer can break $100,000. A senior officer in Hialeah cannot work overtime or extra-duty jobs.When Raleigh Flowers was promoted to Commander, he took a net pay cut of between $20,000 to $40,000. Per you article, Major Flowers grosses about $91,000....well beneath the pay for a hard working Miami Gardens patrolman.

Kcee
Kcee

Main subject aside. You should really educate yourself as to what having a "GED" is. Think before you post something like that. You may be offending the doctor that checked to see what ailment came about you or the lawyer who helped you fight that speeding ticket or the dentist that fixed the cavity thats been bothering ya...oh and its Sam and you suck period. Capitalize the N in not. Grammar grammar grammar Wicho...

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