Carlos Gimenez, Rebeca Sosa and David Rivera Shower Favors On Ex-Cocaine Trafficker (Updated)


alexp-davidr.jpg
Banah International Group
Alexander I Perez recieved a congressional recognition from U.S. Rep David Rivera.
FROM TRAFFICKING TO POLITICKING

On Banah Sugar's Facebook page, Perez loves posting photos of his new political pals. Scroll through them and you'll catch images of Mayor Gimenez with his arm draped around Perez and embattled U.S. Congressman David Rivera, who is the subject of two federal investigations, shaking hands with Banah's founder in his company's lobby. 

Another pic shows Hialeah Mayor Hernandez, Hialeah City Council President Isis Garcia Martinez, and Herman Echevarria, owner of Miami socialite magazine Venue, in Perez's office at Banah's Hialeah headquarters. They are standing in front of a wall decorated with a large photo of former President George H. Bush and former Soviet Union head Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as seals for the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of Homeland Security, and the Vice-President of The United States. 

The politicians provided Perez with more than just photo-ops. On Oct. 13, 2011, Rivera awarded Perez with a "Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition" due to his "outstanding and invaluable service to the community." At the presentation ceremony in Washington D.C,, Rivera and Perez were joined by Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehitinen and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

Rivera spokeswoman Leslie Veiga says the congressman did not know about Perez's criminal record and that he gave Banah's owner the certificate at the behest of Colombian American business leaders she did not identify. "Had our office been aware of the issues in Mr. Perez's past, he certainly would not have received a congressional certificate," she says. 

Katrina Valdes, Diaz-Balart's spokeswoman, says her boss only attended the event as a professional courtesy to Rivera, who asked him to meet with a large group of South Florida businessmen. Ros-Lehitinen's press secretary could not be reached for comment.

Three weeks later, through the Beacon Council, a public-private agency that is supposed to promote economic development, Banah requested $400,000 in tax incentives from the county and state. The company claims it will create 300 new jobs paying an average of $50,000 a year in 2013. In December of that year, county commissioners approved Gimenez's recommendation to grant Banah the tax breaks.

Gimenez spokeswoman Suzy Trutie says the mayor's office was unaware of Perez's criminal record and relied on the Beacon Council to conduct a background check on the company and its officers. On the state application for the incentives, Perez listed "none" when answering a question if he or any of his companies were involved in any recent criminal investigations, civil suits or had any liens. 

Asked if the mayor would have rejected Banah's request had he known about Perez's conviction, Trutie declined comment. "I don't want to talk hypotheticals," she says, insisting the mayor's recommendation is just a formality. "The Beacon Council did the due dilligence. Nothing came up."

(Banana Republican did not try to obtain comment from the Beacon Council prior to publication because the responsibility of monitoring how these tax incentives are doled out ultimately falls on the county. Below is the Beacon Council's response which was emailed to me this afternoon.)

Beacon Council spokeswoman Ana Acle-Menendez explains that the agency relies on Google searches and information obtained from Dun & Bradstreet, a company that provides some information on businesses such as their credit rating and if they've filed for bankruptcy. "We do not have the capability to do a criminal search as we don't have a person's birth date and often companies are owned by several people or corporation," she says. "It'd be great if the county or state could do the search but it would have to be done in a timely manner."

Acle-Menendez also noted that the background question on the state application for the incentives is not clear. "The problem is 'recent'has to be define," she says. "It's not up to us to define that and we'd like to see that loophole closed."

She adds that Banah must fullfill its investment, add the 300 jobs and pay all its taxes before it actually gets the money. 

Nevertheless, Perez showed his gratitude for Gimenez's formality when Banah International Group donated $500 to the mayor's reelection campaign on Dec. 12, 2011, six days after the county commission signed off on the incentives. Two months later, the county commission approved Commissioner Rebeca Sosa's request to rename SE 10th Avenue in honor of Banah. Sosa says she did so at the request of the Hialeah mayor and the city council. Hernandez declined comment.

However, Sosa didn't seem to have a problem with Perez's criminal record. "There are people who have paid their debt for incredible mistakes they made in life," she says. "Where do you draw the line?" 

My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
bobjefferson
bobjefferson

This proves the fact that the Herald is a rag being used by Democrats! Why doesn't the Herald investigate or report on the fact that Joe Garcia while working for the US Dept. of Energy under the Obama Administration gave $2 billion in taxpayer money to China to build solar pannels? Why doesn't the Herald report on the fact that Joe Garcia was lobbied by energy companies to raise our electric bills whille he was Chairman of the Public Service Commission? He did raise Floridians electric bills and when he left the Public Service Commission he got a cushy job as a political hack! Joe Garcia is the most corrupt politician in Miami-Dade County and has no business being a Representative of District 26! David Rivera was given a 100% voting record in favor of job creation. That's all I need to know, he's got my vote and my support.

JesusLovesMe
JesusLovesMe

Jesus fucking Christ. Beacon council can't run a simple Miami Dade criminal background check? I wonder how much money the folks at The top of the beacon council take from taxpayers.

David
David

A primary rule of Business ownership: The business is an entity on its own. What does the man behind it have to do with how it will be run? How many lawsuits are pending for small business around the country who are still trying to get their basic structures firmly planted? Banah has promised a lot of things, but not a single one of those promises have been broken. The article is designed to smear the reputation of a man with a questionable past, by means of discriminatory language no less. What REAL wrong has been done here? Your links aren't functional, your language is derogatory, and all your really doing is provoking the easily influenced american public into believing that people cant possibly try to make something of themselves once they've made a mistake . As a well educated hispanic of cuban descent, id like to say that people like you, "tellyounow", are what has ruined this city. Better yet this society. What exactly do you do that contributes so much to the fabric of the culture we live in? Don't sit there and compare cubans to some sort of plague   when your running around screaming your dimwitted idealisms out onto the internet with probably no real understanding of what it means to be living here as an immigrant. 

 

There is no cooperative effort among congress and business owners to help each other excell just because of their heritage. Jesus, the man only gave $500 to the re-election campaign. Thats close to nothing. The people in county government don't do as thorough a job as they should have, and thats obvious, but that has nothing to do with where they came from. It also has nothing to do with them being taught to be thieves or hustlers in their home country. It has to do with the idiots that decided to bring them into power. The same idiots that are commenting on this article. Do me a favor, globalize your perspectives before talking. This country was built on people like the ones mentioned in this article. People who are proactively trying to make the most out of the country they live in. Not people like you. 

 

tellyounow
tellyounow

these people are CUBANS  not " liberals" cubans here are known to be the best at what they do rob , scam , and fraud they learn it where they were born at CUBA ! ingrates they come to this country as refugees get free medicare  , free school money , free food stamps and then they rob peoples taxes this is not about republicans and democrats  its about CUBANS being  THIEFS get them out of this city ! they have ruined it all !

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Can somebody explain to me why I should vote for these Liberals who keep on spewing this cronyism?

 

 

 

Tony Castaneira
Tony Castaneira

More cronyism. Tell me again why I should vote for Liberals?

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

Cuz he's a fellow Cuban hustler, like themselves (how come they don't bestow such perks on a similar black or Haitian entrepreneur?!).

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...