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Jun 03rd
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Written by Erik Bojnansky, BT Senior Writer; Photos by Silvia Ros   
August 2018

The North Miami Beach meltdown

North Miami Beach’s mayor is criminally charged, THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY ATTORNEY ARE FORCED OUT, a commissioner is arrested, and elected officials are at each other’s throats

OCoverShot_8-18n his Facebook page, George Vallejo introduces himself this way: “Former Mayor of North Miami Beach who delivered progress and good government to NMB.” On Twitter he uses the same “Former Mayor of North Miami Beach” handle.

Vallejo’s website,, proclaims, “Official Site of Former Mayor George Vallejo, North Miami Beach” along a black banner. Below is a computer-generated image of a municipality with high-rise towers in the foreground and the words “The Honorable George Vallejo.” Beneath, in smaller letters, is the phrase “The Mayor Who Brought Progress and Good Government to North Miami Beach.”

Vallejo was elected mayor of North Miami Beach in May 2011. During his time in office, garbage services were outsourced. Management of North Miami Beach’s water plant -- which serves other parts of North Miami-Dade including North Miami, Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, Miami Gardens, and Ojus -- was also contracted out to a private company. The city’s zoning code was overhauled, allowing high-rise development with retail and offices in parts of North Miami Beach. The city even passed legislation creating a “brewery district” near NE 8th Avenue and 163rd Street.

Vallejo was re-elected in 2015 without opposition but suddenly resigned on April 10, 2018.

According to a press release issued that day by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office (SAO), Vallejo’s resignation was part of a plea deal stemming from criminal charges involving two $5000 payments from a political committee first registered under his aunt’s name, but which he controlled. Those payments flowed to two companies registered in another person’s name, but which were really controlled by Vallejo and his wife, Sandra Shinego.

As part of his deal, the 52-year-old Vallejo pleaded guilty to two first-degree misdemeanor counts of violating state campaign finance laws. He resigned from office, spent 90 days under house arrest, and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 500 hours of community service. He was also barred from seeking public office while on probation and had to write a public letter of apology.

CoverStory_1_LEADBen Kuehne, a prominent defense attorney, helped negotiate Vallejo’s plea agreement, which, in Kuehne’s opinion, was a good one.

“What I can tell you is that Mayor Vallejo, now Mister Vallejo, has fully resolved his case,” Kuehne says. “He’s no longer an elected official. He’s continuing to contribute to his community in ways he can. He’s no longer interested in looking backward, only forward.”

Indeed, the SAO asserts in its plea agreement with Vallejo that he could have faced up to two years in prison for “false reporting of political expenditures” and “making and/or authorizing illegal political expenditures.” Instead the plea agreement resolves “any and all charges against the defendant and Sandra Shinego related to the filing of false reporting of expenditures by the political committee Floridians for Progress,” as well as “actions known to the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement officers related to or occurring during defendant’s tenure as the Mayor of the City of North Miami Beach.”

Some of the details of those “actions” were revealed on June 1, when prosecutors released a 168-page document titled “Sworn Statement of George Vallejo.” The statement is a transcript of a meeting Vallejo had, as required under his plea agreement, with assistant state attorneys Tim VanderGiesen, Nolen Andrew Bunker, and Robert Fielder on April 5, five days before he resigned as mayor. Vallejo’s defense attorneys, Kuehne and Jeffrey Sloan, were also present. As part of the plea agreement, Vallejo was granted limited immunity for what would be revealed during his interrogation by prosecutors.

DCoverStory_2uring his session with prosecutors, Vallejo insisted all of his decisions were based on “facts and logic” and doing “the greater good.” But he later acknowledged using tens of thousands of dollars raised from two political committees set up under other people’s names, as well as his own re-election campaign account, to pay for personal expenses like trips, bills, sports gear, even beauty treatments.

In addition, prosecutors discovered that Vallejo’s wife received at least $5000 a month from Dezer Development, a company run by Michael Dezer and his son Gil that built a number of condominiums in Sunny Isles Beach, including six Trump-branded towers. Michael Dezer also bought the Intracoastal Mall for $64 million in December 2013, which he and Gil intend to transform into a community with as many as 2000 residential units and as much as 2.5 million square feet of retail and office space in high-rise towers.

Vallejo didn’t want to be interviewed for this story, saying he’s now concentrating on his wife, who is battling cancer. “We’re not interested in participating and dredging up the past,” he says. “We moved on and, really, right now my wife’s health has been my focus.”

In response to written questions, a spokesman for Dezer Development says Sandra Shinego was hired as a private contractor in 2014 to plan parties and events for the Miami Car Museum at the Dezer Collection, a property at NE 19th Avenue and 146th Street in North Miami that’s now being transformed into a sprawling virtual-reality arcade. (See “Arcade Mogul,” April 2018.)

Dezer Development also states that Shinego was hired because the Dezers were impressed with her work in planning a past event. That event, Vallejo told prosecutors, was likely a reception for the USS Philippine Sea, a guided-missile cruiser commanded by his brother-in-law, Capt. Steve Shinego. Vallejo couldn’t remember the date of the reception, but it was probably November 2012.

“At no time did the Dezers try to hide [Shinego’s] role at the museum. On the contrary, her activities were public and open,” Dezer Development states via e-mail, adding that “her efforts have been integral to the operation of the venue,” and that she still plans events there. “The compensation paid to Ms. Shinego has been commensurate with both her responsibility and market-level pay,” the statement continues.

However, Vallejo himself never disclosed that his wife worked for the Dezers when he voted on zoning changes that allowed high-rise development at the Intracoastal Mall, or when he voiced support to obtain state funding to study ways to move more traffic in and out of the mall, a precondition backed by Commissioner Beth Spiegel, who lived in the adjacent neighborhood of Eastern Shores.

Prosecutors say that in 2015 Vallejo even lobbied state legislators in Tallahassee for $8.9 million to modify NE 163rd Street in order to improve traffic flow at the mall, a budget item Gov. Rick Scott ultimately vetoed

CoverStory_3As for Dezer Development’s payments to Sandra Shinego, they were made to Creations Unlimited, a business that Vallejo registered in Wyoming, and to JATC, a limited liability company registered to a friend of his wife’s. But JATC was really owned by Vallejo and Shinego. Vallejo admitted to prosecutors that he created the shell companies because “I don’t like people all...up in my business.”

Barbara Kramer, a city commissioner who encouraged Vallejo to run for office seven years ago, admits she was shaken by some of things uncovered in the criminal investigation. “I don’t know what to think because I knew him as a hard-working mayor who always sought to do the right thing for the city,” Kramer says. “It hurt to read that.”

The prosecutors interviewing the former mayor were also interested in Keith Donner, a consultant who helped Vallejo win election as mayor and often advised him on political matters, as well as Donner’s business partner, Ringo Cayard, the controversial former head of the Haitian-American Foundation. (Prosecutors charged Cayard with racketeering and grand theft in March 2008, only to drop most of the criminal allegations later. Cayard was finally cleared following a pre-trial program for first-time defendants in 2013.)

Donner and Cayard represented the Dezer Development when it was seeking high-rise zoning from the city. Prosecutors wanted to know if Donner and Cayard had a hand in forming Vallejo’s two political committees, as well as details of their relationship with the Dezers.

In an e-mail to the BT, Donner asserts that the prosecutors’ interest in him and Cayard is in the past. “They were doing their job, following the money,” Donner states. “It’s safe to assume they wanted to trace any campaign money related to George from end to end.”

Donner adds that he, too, was shocked when he read the transcript of Vallejo’s interview with prosecutors. “That was an eye-opener,” he says. “Everything was detailed for the first time, and it was far more extensive than I had ever imagined. It was just a series of bad choices, one after the other. And it was entirely avoidable.”

But during their April 5 interrogation of Vallejo, prosecutors were very focused on Donner using his credit card to pay a monthly $80 subscription fee for the Infusionsoft e-mail service that Vallejo used to contact constituents and potential donors. Assistant State Attorney VanderGiesen pointed out that Vallejo’s finances were in such shambles he hadn’t paid his house’s mortgage for more than a year, and that he carried a $30,000 balance on his credit card “for years and years and years.” With Vallejo’s card maxed out, the prosecutor said, Vallejo couldn’t even afford the monthly Infusionsoft fee without the help of someone (Donner) who lobbies city hall.

Vallejo did not deny that Donner paid for the Infusionsoft service but claimed that a relative paid for his mortgage to resolve a foreclosure action on his home. (Donner tells the BT that the Infusionsoft subscription was actually his.)

Vallejo also swore to prosecutors that he set up the political committees and shell companies on his own, after consulting with Donner and conducting his own research.

Vallejo likewise claimed that he was the one who introduced Donner and Cayard to the Dezers, in hopes of countering criticism of their plans to develop the Intracoastal Mall.

More may soon be revealed. An official at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office tells the BT that a dozen boxes of evidence related to Vallejo’s criminal case are expected to be released later this month, after confidential information has been redacted. That evidence includes materials prosecutors have obtained from the Dezers.

TCoverStory_4here’s plenty of other political intrigue in North Miami Beach besides Vallejo’s resignation and whatever those 12 boxes of evidence may contain.

On July 24, Commissioner Frantz Pierre was arrested on charges of bribery, money laundering, and grand theft involving a strip club at Biscayne Boulevard and NE 163rd Street called Dean’s Gold, as well as using a dubious nonprofi, that falsely claimed to provide lunches for disadvantaged kids, as a conduit for kickbacks.

Prosecutors say Pierre collected $12,500 directly from Dean Tyler, operator of Dean’s Gold, in exchange for voting to give the strip club a 6:00 a.m. liquor license. He also collected $12,770 from psychologist Jacqueline Alexis in exchange for soliciting donations to her Community Hope for Children and Families. Alexis did not attempt to disguise her kickbacks to the commissioner -- she sent him checks drawn on her business account, PsychoEd & Consulting Services.

Defense attorney Ben Kuehne also represents Pierre. He maintains that Pierre

“remains adamant that he engaged in no wrongdoing, and it’s too early to tell what the details of the case are.”

This wasn’t Pierre’s first brush with trouble. On May 24, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics hit Pierre with a $1000 fine and $500 in costs for threatening to have a code compliance officer fired for daring two years earlier to cite his home for violations.

Five months prior to that, Pierre was ousted from his commission seat by Vallejo and his colleagues for excessive absences. Rather than go quietly, Pierre, who suffers from heart ailments and kidney problems, retained Kuehne to sue the city to keep his seat. Following a judicial order, Pierre retook his seat on May 1, but he was suspended from office again, on July 26, this time by the governor.

Vallejo and Pierre weren’t the only elected officials who left office before their terms ended. This past March, Commissioner Marlen Martell, a staunch Vallejo ally and friend of NMB City Manager Ana Garcia, resigned her seat so she could take a job as city manager of North Bay Village, a tiny municipality surrounded by Biscayne Bay with its own controversies. That gig lasted less than four months before she was fired by the Village Commission.

As a result of these vacancies, the North Miami Beach City Commission had difficulty fielding a quorum prior to Pierre being reinstated in May. During that same month, Beth Spiegel, a city commissioner since 2009 who frequently argued with Vallejo on the dais, was appointed mayor, and Fortuna Smukler, an Eastern Shores activist skeptical of rampant development, was appointed to Martell’s old commission seat. In June, Ingrid Forbes, a food scientist and city resident since the early 1990s, was appointed to Spiegel’s old seat.

Then, on June 28, the removal of two municipal officers hired at Vallejo’s behest -- city manager Ana Garcia and city attorney José Smith -- first appeared on the city commission agenda. In response, dozens of residents and employees spoke in favor of keeping both officials.

CoverStory_5In the end, the city approved a $143,470 severance package for Garcia and a $146,768 severance for Smith during a special meeting held July 10. Garcia was replaced by Esmond Scott, previously an assistant city manager who has worked for the city since the 1990s, on a temporary basis. Deputy City Attorney Sarah Johnston replaced Smith, also on an interim basis.

Citing the separation agreements, Mayor Spiegel declined to comment on the departure of both officials, except to say that the split “wasn’t personal” and “was in the best interest of the city.”

However, Spiegel did want to emphasize that the city continues to function smoothly. For example, last month the city commission approved a development agreement allowing a 2.5-million-square-foot “micro city,” similar to Midtown Miami. Called New Tower North Town Center, the project will be built on an 18-acre brownfield at 15530 W. Dixie Highway. In addition, the city is contemplating creating a “Chinatown” mixed-use commercial district along NE 163rd/167th Street.

“The city is doing fine,” says Spiegel, a retired divorce attorney. “We’re moving ahead.”

Commissioner Anthony DeFillipo disagrees. He thinks the city is sputtering under Spiegel’s leadership. “With Beth Spiegel being our mayor right now, it’s really become a very hostile working environment,” says DeFillipo, a frequent ally of Vallejo when he was mayor and a friend of former city manager Garcia. “I want to bring this energy back to city hall and bring back a positive atmosphere and charisma, which is, right now, something we don’t have.”

DeFillipo wants to bring back that energy by becoming mayor. Three other people are currently running for the mayor’s post as well: Spiegel, former North Miami Beach mayor Ray Marin, and civic newcomer Robert Dempster. Another ten people (so far) are running to fill five commission seats up for grabs this November 6. The number of candidates can grow or shrink before August 25, the city’s deadline for candidates to file formal paperwork.

The upcoming election has already aggravated things at city hall. Arguments between DeFillipo and Spiegel at the dais are common. During a July 17 commission meeting, resident Alter Gambarte declared his intention to recall Commissioner Phyllis Smith (no relation to José Smith) for first proposing Garcia’s removal.

And then there’s the conflict being waged between 28-year-old lobbyist Evan Ross and Stephanie Kienzle, who runs the website that comments on politics in northeast Dade and south Broward. They are suing each other for defamation.

Kienzle, a friend of Vallejo, alleges that Ross used her own name to create the website to malign her. Ross claims that Kienzle’s stories about him on are “half-truths, whole lies, and selective coverage of issues to serve her personal agenda.”

But that’s not all. Kienzle, a former NMB resident who now lives in Davie, says that with Vallejo gone, Evan Ross is trying to take over the City of North Miami Beach. “He’s behind all the stuff that’s going on here, like the firing of Ana,” she declares.

Ross, who lives at the Marina Palms Yacht Club and Residences, located at 17201 Biscayne Blvd., claims he just wants better government. “As a resident of North Miami Beach, I hope November’s elections will usher in a commission filled with people who will put their egos aside, put residents first, follow best practices, and govern with ethics, integrity, and high character that sets an example for our neighbors,” he states in a message to the BT.

Keith Donner, the lobbyist whose past clients include Dean’s Gold, says he and Ringo Cayard are staying away from North Miami Beach until the dust settles -- if it settles: “I am not getting sucked back into that city’s vortex of crazy.”

ACoverStory_6ccording to his Facebook page, Vallejo is originally from West Palm Beach. His LinkedIn page states that he received a degree in finance from the University of Florida in 1988. After graduation, he worked at Wells Fargo Financial as a bank manager for nearly 12 years. In 1994, while he was still working as a banker, Vallejo and wife bought a vacant waterfront lot in Eastern Shores for $84,000. There they built a five-bedroom, four-bath house, which Vallejo and his family moved into in March 1999.

Soon after moving to NMB, Vallejo left his bank manager job and took up work as a mortgage executive, a property manager, and a real estate broker for various companies and for himself. At one point, he even had his own tax appeal business.

As a volunteer, Vallejo coached the Cubs, a Little League baseball team affiliated with the North Miami Beach Optimist Club.

“He was a great coach. The kids loved him,” says Kienzle of What impressed her most about Vallejo was his ability to calm disputes. “He was a peacemaker,” she says.

Vallejo became an activist in North Miami Beach when he became a director of the Eastern Shores Property Owners Association.

It was around this time that the city’s mayor, Ray Marin, sought to encourage high-rise development in certain parts of the city, including the twin 24-story towers called Marina Grande at Maule Lake, a project that would later be known as Marina Palms.

But some residents hated the idea of high-rises in the city. Among them was Bill Borkan, a wealthy medical device inventor who lived in Eastern Shores and didn’t want towers ruining his view. In 2007, Borkan funded the city commission campaigns of Phyllis Smith and Frantz Pierre, who unseated two pro-development incumbents. In 2009, Borkan struck again, bankrolling the victorious campaigns of Myron Rosner for mayor and Barbara Kramer and Beth Spiegel for commission.

Rosner turned out to be a mayor of questionable ethics, and it was during a meeting with like-minded civic activists at Commissioner Barbara Kramer’s Eastern Shores home that Vallejo began looking like a viable alternative. “We thought he would be an excellent candidate because he was intelligent and he seemed to understand government,” recalls Kramer, who now lives in Western Eastern Shores. “We were looking for someone to move this city forward because Myron wasn’t doing that.”

CoverStory_7Keith Donner, who had worked on the campaigns of Spiegel and Kramer, says he was impressed with Vallejo. “George was a natural candidate on the stump. He was engaging, charming, and articulate,” Donner tells the BT via e-mail. “He connected with all the major voting blocs -- gringos (including a lot of Italians and observant Jews), Hispanics, African Americans, and Haitian Americans. He even had the perfect political family, complete with a beautiful wife, two handsome sons, and even a cute dog.”

Vallejo’s only drawback: He was a “so-so” fundraiser. “It was always an unnatural act for him to ask for campaign contributions,” Donner adds.

Nevertheless, Vallejo unseated Rosner in May 2011. A year later, Rosner pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful compensation related to unreported campaign donations. He was sentenced to three months’ probation. In October 2017, Rosner was arrested again, this time on four counts of securities fraud regarding a real estate project that was never built. A trial is pending.

Soon after his election, Vallejo and his colleagues on the commission had to deal with an imploding budget, dropping property values, and rising pension costs. Among his more controversial actions, besides outsourcing garbage collection and the management of the water plant, was laying off 31 city employees -- including the police chief and 17 police officers -- to balance the budget in his first year in office. Vallejo also went through two city managers before Ana Garcia was hired.

But the creation of eight mixed-use zoning districts during Vallejo’s terms as mayor didn’t generate that much controversy. (See “City on the Verge,” November 2015.) Development foe Bill Borkan had died in September 2013.

The Intracoastal Mall property was one of the new zoning districts. Another was created at the intersection of NE 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard, where Dean’s Gold now stands. On February 20, 2018, the city commission approved an ordinance that would allow the CK Privé Group to replace the strip club and a nearby ABC Fine Wines & Spirits outlet with a million-square-foot high-rise complex.

Keith Donner says the city benefited greatly from Vallejo’s leadership. “I have not seen anyone in NMB who could have moved that city so far, so fast,” he says. “It now has a much broader tax base that is still growing, lower taxes, much better services, and like more than $20 million in reserves, a sustainable debt and pension liability load.”

BCoverStory_8ut Vallejo told prosecutors he remained fearful that a few cranky residents would derail his efforts to modernize the city’s zoning code and bring high-rise development to the city.

“If you want to stop something in North Miami Beach or anywhere else, get a few noisy people to show up and make some noise, and your easy-to-crumble elected officials will crumble,” Vallejo said during his April 5 interrogation by the State Attorney’s Office.

Vallejo maintained that he really believed that high-rise development, as envisioned under the revised zoning code, would be good for the city, especially at the Intracoastal Mall.

“Intracoastal Mall, prior to the city’s modernization, was permitted to have 15-story buildings all over every square inch of that property,” he said, “up to 25 feet away from the property line, along 35th Avenue, which was disastrous.”

With the new zoning code, Vallejo said, developers had to have a mix of residential and commercial. They had to include parkland. They had to make sure there was proper traffic flow into and out of new developments.

Vallejo argued that mixed-use high-rise developments, like the Dezers’ desired projects at the Intracoastal Mall, had the potential of providing the city an additional $1.5 billion in taxes. “That would pay for a lot of police, a lot of parks, a lot of road improvements, just a whole lot of benefit throughout the city,” he told prosecutors. “Unfortunately, there’s a handful of folks that never have heard that story, that don’t want to hear that story. And I have the feeling they’re the kind of people that have you guys on speed dial or whatever. But, listen, it doesn’t matter. I mean, it is what it is.”

“See, that’s not the issue,” assistant state attorney Robert Fielder later replied.

His colleague, Tim VanderGiesen, was blunt: “I don’t want to have a 100-page transcript of you guys going back and forth on Mount Theoretical.”

The prosecutors were really interested in Vallejo’s political committees.

Vallejo explained that he had been interested in forming his own political committee soon after he was elected mayor, as a means for allowing him to become “a more powerful elected official” who can “help move, drive your agenda forward.”

Vallejo settled on forming what is known as a 527, after the IRS tax code that allows for the creation of tax-exempt political committees that can advocate for issues, but not directly for candidates. Such committees don’t have to worry about oversight from the Federal Election Commission, and they file their documents with the IRS, not the FEC or state election officials.

CoverStory_9In January 2013, Vallejo founded his 527 organization, which he called Progress NMB. Its purpose, as Vallejo explained to donors, was “to keep me strong with the voters” and “to push my agenda.” But to insulate himself, Vallejo registered the group under the name of a neighbor. (That neighbor, whose name was misspelled in the interrogation transcript, could not be located by deadline.) In reality, there were only two members of Progress NMB: Vallejo and his wife. As Vallejo told prosecutors, “My wife is, she’s one of my political sounding boards and she’s like one of, I hate to use that word, political operative, but one of my political operative people, you know, in talking to the community, and talking to people, and stuff like that.”

Vallejo told the prosecutors he raised between $25,000 and $30,000 from donors, such as Marina Palms developer Neil Farman, the Dezers, and the operators of Duffy’s Sports Grill, which has a popular location at the Intracoastal Mall.

The money didn’t pay for political fliers or commercials. Instead, it was spent by Vallejo and Shinego personally. For example, Vallejo went on a trip to Sandy Springs, Georgia, a municipality renowned for outsourcing nearly all of its services. During his trip, Vallejo met the Sandy Springs mayor and deputy city manager. But the meeting coincided nicely with the baseball tournament he and his son attended in Sandy Springs. He also bought a baseball bat for his son using Progress NMB proceeds

Vallejo then confirmed to prosecutors that he and his wife spent Progress NMB money on car insurance, groceries, clothes, family dinners, salon treatments, another baseball tournament -- this time to Sarasota -- and some political gatherings in which he and his wife emphasized the importance of electing officials aligned with their pro-development, pro-business vision for the city.

Assistant state attorney VanderGiesen: “At the time, did you understand that you weren’t free to just spend the money however you wanted? That there are rules on how 527s can spend their money?”

Vallejo: “My understanding of the rules probably was a little more expansive than, you know, what I know now.”

VanderGiesen: “Do you recall how the purchase of the baseball bat was in furtherance of the 527?”

Vallejo: “Not a clue.”

In March 2015, using his aunt’s name, Vallejo created a regular political committee called Floridians For Progress, with the express purpose of advocating for changes in the city charter during a special election to be held in November 2016. (These records are available for viewing on the Miami-Dade Elections website.)

In the span of 20 months, Vallejo raised $73,850 for Floridians For Progress. FFP’s biggest contributor was Michael Dezer’s wife, Neomi Dezertzov, who gave $30,000. Other major contributions included $10,000 from Moore Investments, former owner of a W. Dixie Highway brownfield that’s now slated to become the 2.5 million-square-foot “micro city.” Russell Rosenthal, a prominent property owner, gave $8500. Dean Tyler, operator of Dean’s Gold, kicked in $7500. ASA College, located within the Intracoastal Mall, donated $5000.

Vallejo sent $43,898 in FFP money to the Democracy Project, a political committee run by Keith Donner. Vallejo told prosecutors those funds were used for mailers and polling. Other expenditures went to candidates friendly to Vallejo’s agenda and to other political committees. And, as mentioned earlier, Vallejo directed two $5000 disbursements to shell companies that he and his wife controlled.

For his own 2015 re-election, Vallejo raised $49,030. Part of those funds, $9320, was sent to JATC, Inc. for “consulting fees.” Vallejo, though, had no opposition, and under state law leftover money must be returned to donors, given to a charity, or placed in a city office account “to be used only for legitimate expenses in connection with the candidate’s public office.”

In accordance with that law, Vallejo allocated $3000 to the Mystic Force Foundation, a non-profit children’s cancer fund-raising group. The rest of the unspent funds, $13,237, was sent to Vallejo’s mayoral office account. The money was used to pay for various personal expenses. “All I can think of is that I was short money,” he told prosecutors. “I, you know, moved the money here to loan it temporarily and then paid it back.”

For instance, Vallejo said he put money back into his office account after he earned a commission for brokering the $10.2 million sale of a site on NE 164th Street that is expected to become a 347-unit apartment building.

“I think that account still has a few hundred dollars in it,” Vallejo told prosecutors.

VanderGiesen countered that it appeared that virtually all of all of the office campaign funds were gone, spent on BillPay Online, Walmart, SunPass, Cuban Guys Sandwich Shop, and other personal items.

“A few hundred dollars, doesn’t really pay a lot of bills in today’s world,” VanderGiesen said.

“No,” Vallejo replied.


This article has been updated.


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