Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
has a new tormentor. He is Reid Welch, a 57-year-old Coconut Grove
resident who eradicates Sarnoff campaign signs from the neighborhood
when he is not huffing noxious fumes.
"I inhale propane gas to get
high, but I am not the least bit nutty," Welch insists. "I asked
Sarnoff for help against criminal cops and his reply was: 'Sorry,
Reid, I can't help you.'"
Welch is not some run-of-the-mill vandal. He lives in a $1.3 million, four bedroom estate on Hardie Road, just a ten-minute bike ride from Sarnoff's home. According to online county records, Welch provided a $220,000 personal mortgage loan to a man named James Beauchamp in 1986.
Life unraveled for Welch November 7, 2008, the day he was popped for cocaine possession, for which he received a withhold adjudication. "I was a minor crack cocaine user at the time," Welch concedes. "The cops gave me a near-fatal beating."
He filed an internal affairs complaint and was subsequently rebuffed by Sarnoff when he sought the commissioner's assistance in exposing his allegations.
It only got worse. In 2009, Welch was arrested four times, racking up two misdemeanor and three felony charges, including battery on an elderly person. He avoided prosecution by attending anger management classes for six months. Welch was also put on probation for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.
Welch claims Miami Police officers have also had him committed for 72-hour mental evaluations four separate times. Sarnoff, who is running for re-election, describes Welch as a public threat.
"Reid has a horrible temper," Sarnoff says. "I don't think he is in his right mind. He has threatened quite a few people with bodily harm."
Armed with a handheld video camera, Welch has been recording himself riding on his bicycle in search of Sarnoff signs to rip down.
On August 13, Welch clipped off two signs tied to the front gate of Sarnoff's two residences while he taunted the commish on camera: "I suggest you call a cop and have them come arrest me or maybe kill me this time... You killer-cop protector. You fucking mouse."
Later that afternoon, after Welch uploaded the two-minute clip to YouTube, a police officer accosted him inside his garage, Welch alleges. "This bozo had his gun trained on my head," he growls. "He warned me I was trespassing on people's properties."
The following day, Welch recorded more footage of his sign stalking. And he vows to continue: "I'm not going to let them fuck with me."