Paul Crespo, self-described, conservative "Reagan Republican" who lost last year's U.S. Senate primary to David Rivera (Rep. District 25) and now runs for a Florida House seat is described differently by a Miami Beach cop: Drunk stunt driver from a The Fast and The Furious movie.
Crespo, 45, was arrested and charged with DUI as he left South Beach one early morning in February -- four days after he signed documents to run for the seat that will be vacated by State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez (REP District 102), who is running for Hialeah mayor in one of the domino effect races caused by the recall of the county mayor. And Ladra is pretty sure that the information about this arrest came from the camp of one of the other two in that race.
The former U.S. Marine said he pled not guilty and asked that voters do not make judgement until after the matter is resolved in court, which he expects to be months before the election this fall. There is no information in the county clerk's online court database on his case, but Ladra first got a copy of this corrections record photographed here in her email. She then asked for the arrest report from the records department at Miami Beach Police to get more details. And they are detailed indeed.
Crespo was stopped initially for speeding and erratic driving about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 26 as he drove his black Infinity west on McArthur Causeway back to his Coral Gables home. And maybe those five speeding tickets in his past records indicate the communications company owner does have a lead foot (like Ladra sometimes has had... er, in the distant past, any police offficers who are reading this). But then Officer Philip Wirth wrote in his report that he smelled alcohol in the car and on Crespo, who Wirth said admitted to drinking.
According to the report, Officer Wirth was at the light on 8th Street and Alton Road when the Infinity came south on Alton and rounded the corner westbound on 8th "failing to slow down, let alone stop for the red light." The officer then turned around to watch Crespo "closing in" on the red light on West Avenue. "Brake lights flashed for a moment and then the def[endant] accelerated through the red light onto southbound West Avenue." When he reached MacArthur, Crespo "made no attempt to stop," Wirth wrote.
"He drifted his vehicle like he was a stunt driver for the 'Fast And The Furious" movie."
As Crespo allegedly sped up westbound on the east bridge, Wirth turned on his lights and sirens. He wrote that Crespo stepped on the brakes for a moment, but then floored it, changing lanes and cutting in front of a taxi. In fact, it was that Friday night/Saturday morning traffic fleeing from South Beach that finally forced him to gradually slow down and stop on the bus lane in front of the Terminal Island traffic light. "On my approach, the defendant was feverishly putting a mint flavored gum in his mouth and wildly chewed it." After he opened his window and the officer asked for his driver's license, Crespo gave him his registration and insurance card. After the third time Wirth asked, he got the license, he wrote.
"The defendant had bloodshot, watery eyes and a strong oder of alcoholic beverage coming from the cabin, where he was the sole occupant. I asked the defendant to step out to isolate him from the cabin odor. Once outside, I still detected the odor from his mouth when he spoke," Wirth wrote, adding that Crespo failed the subsequent roadside sobriety tests and was arrested.
"Once in the holding facility, the defendant said to detention officers Abercrumbie and Hicks while waiting for me, 'I don't know why I was arrested. I only had two drinks.'" (Okay, just as an aside, isn't it hilarious that those two detention officers sound like a retail store that pre teen love?).
When Ladra called him about it, Crespo said he did not want to answer questions or talk about the charge outside the courtroom. "It's not appropriate and it's not fair to the judicial process," he said, adding that a hearing will likely be scheduled and the issue resolved before the election.
And while the report is not good for Crespo, it has to be taken in the context that the information has been distributed in what seems like an orchestrated campaign. Ladra received it from someone identifying himself as Roger Roig, who has also posted comments on my blog and other internet sites. "The public needs to know. This man is a danger to our community," Roig wrote in his first email to me with the attachments. "I am here to inform the facts."
After I replied asking who he was and if he was connected to any campaign, he responded: "I am a follower of your blog and I saw your post. I am not conected to anyone in this race, but I did follow the congressional race closely (I did not like Mr. Crespo's tactics, and I was not a supporter of Rivera either). This all came from MDPD through a public records request, I can have the person who got them email you. He works in the Law enforcement/investigative field."
Well, several attempts to find Mr. Roig, if that is indeed his name, have been frustrating. There has been nobody at the Fast Car Gas warehouse in Hialeah that is a business registered to a Roger Roig (they also ship to Bolivia). Nor the house that comes back in South Dade to him.
I guess Ladra will have to make a public records request on all recent public records requests at the police department on Crespo's record to see who went to all these lengths. Because we believe it is relevant. If Crespo should be transparent about his arrest record, Roig should be transparent about his source, or else his motives are suspect.
Crespo's campaign manager saw the pattern, too. "This is obviously an orchestrated campaign to discredit Paul and it shows clearly that he is the front runner in this race," said Emilian Antuñez.
He wouldn't venture to guess or express if he thought the music was coming from someone tied to Jessica "Jessie" Fortich or Manny Diaz, Jr., the other two candidates. I left Fortich a message. Diaz is impossible to reach. His phone rings and rings and doesn't give you the option of leaving a message. If anybody reads this that knows him (ahem, "Mr. Roig"?), please pass the message.
I'm waiting to hear more information before we start the Fast and the Furious voting.