The Republican candidates in the election for U.S. House in District 25 are all having close encounters with law enforcement in recent days.
First Paul Crespo had that caught-on-tape brush with West Miami Police who asked him to leave a meeting of the local Reps during a candidate forum and told Ladra he would follow up with a request for internal affairs to look into it.
Then, Monday morning, State Rep. David Rivera was at the Miami-Dade Police Department Monday to be fingerprinted -- but not because he committed a crime. In fact, it may be because he never did.
And Marili Cancio told Ladra today that she will take a letter delivered to her campaign office this afternoon to the police to report it as an anonymous threat to slander or libel her if she does not drop out of the race.
Is there no real crime in Miami anymore?
Allegations of domestic violence that surfaced (again) last week against the front-running Rivera -- most likely fueled by opponents in that election -- may have forced Rivera, who has otherwise not responded to the "desperate, false accusations" to go to the Doral station and clear his name.
Last week, Ladra called Rivera on Friday and left him a voice mail message about what we had learned from a Det. Rebeca Perez at MDPD. She told me a David M. Rivera with his date-of-birth (he's a Libra) was arrested once. But she could not tell me the charge or the date, which indicates the record was sealed or expunged. She also said that people who are falsely accused of crimes -- either through identify theft or because they simply share a common name and birthday with someone else -- could take steps to clear their names by running their prints in the system. She said people often did.
On Monday, Rivera was fingerprinted and had those prints run. And he has no record.
So says a document signed by records technician Retha Nelson. Ladra is looking at it, dated today, stamped with the official department seal.
I am also holding another record, this one dated Friday and also stamped, signed by technician P. Rogerson, which says he does have a local misdemeanor arrest record.
But there seems to have been a computer glitch because when someone pulled that case up, it corresponds to another David Rivera -- a Capricorn (different DOB). Instead of the 44-year-old legislator (accused by people with a political agenda of repeat domestic violence in 1994) we are looking at the record of a 40-year-old with a 2003 misdemeanor charge for petit theft from a Home Depot in Miami Gardens. Not the same guy, we assume.
(Huh? And it is just a coincidence that the computer glitch had David Rivera's dob, the David Rivera who is a sitting State Rep., Congressional candidate and rising political star? Um, I would like to see someone look into how that happened. Computer forensics could tell us all if this was truly computer or human error or intentional sabotage. We deserve to know.).
We are impressed that Rivera went through the trouble of going to the police and having his hands inked for fingerprints at 8:15 a.m. And we are pleased. Candidates too often dismiss false allegations as negative campaigning without trying to set the record straight. In this case, only Rivera -- by providing fingerprints -- could have shown that the record in police files was not his. While it does not clear up the family court case with his name on it (but no DOB, and need we remind people how common David Rivera is?), it also, naturally, throws doubt onto it. Particularly with no paperwork or public documents to back it up and when the alleged victim told me herself that it is not the state rep she dated 16 years ago.
(We were also reminded by people who know that while Rivera worked from 1991 to 1999 at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting within the U.S. State Department, the feds ran background security checks regularly. Ladra has seen the 1996 and 1997 reports that give him clearance).
Rivera had earlier told me that it was a case of mistaken identity. But he has since declined to "dignify these false allegations with a response." Asked Monday why he felt compelled to take steps to clear his name in the police case, Rivera repeated that the allegations do not deserve the dignity of a response, but added: "I have never been accused of anything in my life."
Reached by phone, Marili Cancio (Rep), who is running against Rivera, said the fingerprints prove nothing because you do not have to be fingerprinted to have a temporary restraining order against you. I believe that might be true, but the fact that this was so easily debunked certainly casts a pall of doubt on everything else.
"It's great if he is innocent," said Cancio, who said she was not the one who originated the story.
"I said that he was a coward if he hit a woman," she told Ladra. "I did not say he hit a woman."
Uh huh. That's like asking "When did you stop smoking crack?"
Cancio also hints at a conspiracy: "You can make anything disappear."
Then again, she was a little distracted during the interview -- and maybe ruffled -- as she awaited a staffer coming with an anonymous letter that arrived in the mail at the campaign office Monday. She had a staffer read it to her over the phone and then asked him to bring it to her.
"I'm taking it to the police," Cancio said. "This is a fun, fun campaign."
She said the letter had a fictional return address but was mailed from the 33152 zip code.
"The contents are intended for me to back down or they are going to say things about me," Cancio said. What things? She would not get into the details.
"I don't get intimidated," Cancio said. "I just get mad."
Ladra has a feeling there is more to come on all of this. We will keep checking with the cops.