Former SM Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro Vindicated

This case, which has been slowly moving forward may have reached a partial conclusion with the 11th Circuit Court Judge ruling  (CASE NO.: 13-9342 CA 15) that the city, which fired Martinez under the pretense that he violated his contract by serving as Acting City Manager, did not have merit nor legal standing. Several area attorneys who are familiar with the case, but not working on it, think that the city may have to pay Martinez and his attorney $300,000 or more make it  go away.

Chief Orlando Martinez Castro

Chief Orlando Martinez Castro

The former Chief’s attorney, Paul Totten stated after the ruling, “We are extremely pleased of the judge’s recent ruling granting our motion for summary judgment. This is a vindication of our clients position and confirmed that of SM acted illegally and in violation of its own charter in passing the resolution that effectively terminated Orlando without cause a year and half ago.”

According to the court ruling “The State Constitution, which the city attorney, Mr. Thomas Pepe erroneously cited to fire Martinez de Castro, has to do with dual office holders as it pertains to elected officials…” Mere government employment, though, does not amount to holding office” (pg. 6 of ruling). In addition, according to the city charter, it was incumbent upon the commission to vote via resolution as to who fills in for an absent City Manager, which they failed to do. He further stated the City’s omission of city charter article VI, section 6 was, “disingenuous” (pg. 5 of ruling) since “both parties agreed that the role of the police chief was a directorship.” The judge granted a, “partial ruling” with regards to attorney’s fees and the contract since an exact amount would have to be determined, by a mediator which will also be at the city’s expense.

Stoddard, who had attempted to force the previous City Manager, Hector Mirabile to fire the former chief, was refused. Mirabile stated; “The Chief has done an excellent job and to fire him without grounds will result in an enormous financial loss for the city.”  Stoddard then tried a different tactic by submitting an ethics complaint against Martinez de Castro in the hopes that the ruling would provide a valid reason to terminate his employment.

The Ethics Commission did not find Martinez de Castro guilty of ethical violations  which seems to have led Stoddard and two commissioners to fire the City Manager, in order to hire one that would do their bidding. The firing of Mirabile resulted in an additional expense since the city paid Mr. Mirabile a six month “consulting fee”, plus of course the salary of his replacement, Stephen Alexander as the new manager.

A few days ago the former mayor Feliu stated“The former chief’s victory over our city comes as no surprise to me. Even a child could see that the resolution, which led to the Chief departure had no legal merit what so ever. This will cost the taxpayers dearly for years to come.”


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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at michael@communitynewspapers.com

5 Comments on "Former SM Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro Vindicated"

  1. AE Defineinsanity | March 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Reply

    Flashback Friday! South Miami Grey Ghosts Soccer Club, Inc., vs. City of South Miami Verified Petition
    12. A municipal charter is the constitution of a city and effectively limits the legislative power of a city in the same manner the state constitution limits the power of the Legislature. See Gontz v. Cooper City, 228 So.2d 913 (Fla. 4th DCA 1970); City of Miami Beach v. Fleetwood Hotel, Inc., 261 So.2d 801 (Fla. 1972)(municipal charter, like state constitution, is the paramount governing instrument of a municipality).
    13. Adherence to the City Charter is mandatory, not discretionary, and must be considered in its totality where a statutory or charter provision direct the manner in which a specific act is to be done, it precludes the act from being done in a different manner. Alsop v. Pierce, 19 So.2d 799, 802 (Fla. 1944).
    14. The City Charter mandates, in terms of “will,” that the Commission act by “written resolution” and by “ordinance” in matters of a franchise. See Article III, Section 6 of City Charter ¶6 above.
    15. South Miami United (“SMU”) is a youth soccer club that has operated a league at South Miami Park for approximately two and a half (21⁄2) years.
    16. About three (3) years ago, the CITY decided to enter into an agreement with SMU to run the soccer program at CITY facilities. There was no bid or RFP process, but SMU was selected based upon favoritism.
    17. Given the duration of the agreement, some three (3) years, the agreement with SMU is a de facto franchise within the purview of Article VI Section 5 of the Charter addressing franchises. Article VI Section 5 of City Charter, ¶6 above.
    18. The CITY has an Ethics Ordinance which prohibits anyone who sits on a City board from -5-
    19. In violation of relevant Charter provisions and the CITY’s Code of Ethics, two of the principals of SMU, Patrick Flood 2 and Anthony Tolgyesi, 3 sat on the City of South Miami Parks and Recreation Board overseeing the soccer programs while also operating SMU, the de facto franchise.
    20. Specifically, Flood and Tolgyesi sat on the City of South Miami Parks and Recreation Board overseeing the soccer programs while also operating SMU, during the approximate two and a half (21⁄2) years that SMU held an agreement with CITY to operate or manage the soccer program at CITY facilities.
    21. Patrick Flood and Anthony Tolgyesi were within the prohibited class of individuals defined in the City Code of Ethics, until their resignation from the City Parks and Recreation Board in March 2012. This existing and ongoing violation went on for over two years (2) and was known by the CITY and all of its elected officials, who willfully allowed this violation to exist.
    22. Both the individuals and CITY knew or should have known of the conflict.
    23. At all material times, members of the City administration, including City Commissioners,
    (2 Flood was a City of South Miami Parks and Recreation Board Member from the Fall 2007 through March 2012.
    3 Anthony Tolgyesi of SMU, who sat on the board in direct violation of the charter, is an attorney and members of the Florida Bar and, thus, should have known his actions were a violation of the City’s Code of Ethics. Tolgyesi was a City of South Miami Parks and Recreation Board Member from 2008 to the present. )
    knew of the violations that existed by having the leaders of SMU run the soccer program and also sit on the CITY’s Parks and Recreation Board, but consistent with the improper act and omission that give rise to this action, City administration and elected officials willfully allowed the violation to exist.
    24. It was evident to the City administration that by granting any additional extension to SMU, it in effect created an agreement which blatantly falls within the definition of franchise and within the purview of Article VI, Section 5 of the City of South Miami’s Municipal Charter, relating to a franchise. Article VI Section 5 of City Charter, ¶6 above.
    25. The City administration recognized that there was an issue with perpetuating the agreement with SMU and the de facto franchise granted to SMU without complying with the provisions of the City Charter. CITY, only then, commenced a competitive bid process in the form of an RFP for the Management of Soccer Programs at South Miami Park.
    26. At all material times, elected officials knew of the existence of the “Cone of Silence” applicable to the RFP and that the intent and purpose of the “Cone of Silence” are to protect the process, assuring a fair and impartial decision making, selecting the most beneficial proposal to the CITY, and preserving the public trust.
    27. The “Cone of Silence” prevents manipulation or corruption of the RFP and prevents that an award of an RFP proposal is done arbitrarily, capriciously, pre-textually, or based on personal favoritism.
    28. The “Cone of Silence,” Florida’s Sunshine Law, and the Code of Ethics are intended to maintain transparency and equality to avoid any circumvention or manipulation of the bid,-7- http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/07/so

  2. AE Defineinsanity | March 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Reply

    "Judge cancels South Miami youth soccer permit Judge Ellen L. Leesfield found that South Miami leaders improperly awarded a permit to the group running the city’s youth soccer league. By ANDREA TORRES
    atorres@MiamiHerald.com Posted on Sunday, 07.22.12
    A judge has taken away the permit of South Miami United, the organization running South Miami’s youth soccer program, saying the city botched the process of choosing the company. …, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen L. Leesfield found that the city’s handling of the process to select a soccer club had violated Florida law. And she nullified the annual permit that the city had issued to allow United to use the soccer fields." http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/22/2904537/jud

  3. Is about time the thruth comes out.

  4. Donna Shelley | March 14, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Reply

    At the time all of this was going on, I publicly stated that this was an improper firing of the Chief. I supported his right to respectful treatment by his employer, the City of South Miami, something he sadly, did not receive. When I ran for the office of Commissioner, a seated Commissioner who was not running for office, circulated flyers stating that I would re-hire the Chief were I to be elected. This was absolutely not true. I would not have re-hired him had I been elected because of the dissent it would have caused. However, I would not have agreed to spending time and taxpayers dollars fighting the Chief's lawsuit. The suit was warranted as demonstrated by the judge's summary judgment in favor of Orlando Martinez de Castro. And although it is a slog through legalese, a link to the full decision would be a welcomed addition to your article.

  5. Everybody remember him as a great cop who put the city of south Miami in order… He must return!

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