Suspended Miami city commissioner pleads not guilty to money laundering and other charges

Oct 15, 2023, 7:52 AM

MIAMI (AP) — A suspended Miami city commissioner who is accused of accepting $245,000 in exchange for voting to approve construction of a sports facility has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges, including bribery and money laundering.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla did not appear in court Friday, but his attorney, Ben Kuehne, entered the plea for him.

Diaz de la Portilla and a co-defendant, Miami attorney William Riley Jr., were arrested Sept. 14.

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Diaz de la Portilla, who is a fellow Republican, after the commissioner’s arrest. Kuehne said Friday that his client was campaigning for the Nov. 7 election to keep his seat on the commission.

“We look forward to a vindication of these charges because Alex is not guilty,” Kuehne said at the Miami-Dade criminal courthouse, according to the Miami Herald.

Kuehne requested that Diaz de la Portilla be tried separately from Riley, WPLG-TV reported.

On Friday, Riley’s attorney also entered a not guilty plea for his client, who did not appear in court. Riley is accused of being the front for the business that allegedly gave money to the Diaz de la Portilla campaign in exchange for the right to build a sports facility on land that is now a downtown city park.

Both men bonded out of jail soon after being arrested, and their next status hearing is Nov. 14. A trial date has not been set.

Diaz de la Portilla is a former state legislator and was elected to the city commission in 2019.

Investigators said Diaz de la Portilla and Riley accepted more than $15,000 for the Miami-Dade County Court judicial campaign of Diaz de la Portilla’s brother but did not report the money, as required by state law. Riley also controlled a bank account in the name of a Delaware-based corporation to launder about $245,000 in concealed political contributions made by a management services company in exchange for permission to build a sports complex, officials said.

Investigators also said Diaz de la Portilla operated and controlled two political committees used both for his brother’s campaign and for personal spending. Records showed one of the committees reported donations of about $2.3 million and the other reported more than $800,000.

Diaz de La Portilla and Riley are each charged with one count of money laundering, three counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior, one count of bribery and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Diaz de la Portilla is also charged with four counts of official misconduct, one count of campaign contribution in excess of legal limits and two counts of failure to report a gift. Riley is also charged with failure to disclose lobbyist expenses.

National News

Associated Press

Harris to visit battleground Wisconsin in first rally as Democrats coalesce around her for president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is making her first visit to a battleground state Tuesday after locking up enough support from Democratic delegates to win her party’s nomination to challenge former President Donald Trump, two days after President Joe Biden dropped his reelection bid. As the Democratic Party continues to coalesce around her, […]

9 minutes ago

FILE - Buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura near Lake Charles, La., ...

Associated Press

Data shows hurricanes and earthquakes grab headlines but inland counties top disaster list

Floyd County keeps flooding and the federal government keeps coming to the rescue. In July 2022, at least 40 people died and 300 homes were damaged when the eastern Kentucky county flooded. It was the 13th time in 12 years that the rural county was declared a federal disaster. These are disasters so costly that […]

3 hours ago

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, left, talks with Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell...

Associated Press

Senate to consider bills that aim to protect children and teenagers online

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate will consider legislation this week that aims to protect children from dangerous online content, moving forward with what could become the first sweeping new regulation of the tech industry in decades. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is set to announce Tuesday that he will bring the bipartisan bill up in the […]

4 hours ago

Death row inmate Taberon Honie leaves the Utah Board of Pardons commutation hearing Monday, July 22...

Associated Press

Attorneys for state of Utah ask parole board to keep death sentence for man convicted in 1998 murder

Attorneys for the state of Utah are expected on Tuesday to urge a parole board to deny a death row inmate’s request for his life to be spared ahead of his scheduled Aug. 8 execution. Representatives of the 49-year-old victim, Claudia Benn, were scheduled to testify before both sides deliver their closing arguments during the […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart speaks at the Capitol in Washington, May 26, 2021. Stew...

Associated Press

Jon Stewart pushes VA to help veterans sickened after post-9/11 exposure to uranium

WASHINGTON (AP) — Comedian Jon Stewart is pressing the Biden administration to fix a loophole in a massive veterans aid bill that left out some of the first U.S. troops who responded after the Sept. 11 attacks and got sick after deploying to a base contaminated with dangerous levels of uranium. Special operations forces deployed […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military bas...

Associated Press

Netanyahu is in Washington at a fraught time for Israel and the US. What to know about his visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week is looming as a fraught one between the two allies, coming at a moment of extreme political flux in the United States, and wariness among American leaders about Netanyahu’s history of interjecting himself into U.S. domestic politics. The main purpose of Netanyahu’s […]

5 hours ago

Suspended Miami city commissioner pleads not guilty to money laundering and other charges