North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre and his friends have used city soccer fields for free, causing the city to lose nearly $40,000 in fees. Councilmember Scott Galvin, former mayor Kevin Burns and Alonzo Mourning High School athletic director Ron Shycko weigh in on the news.
Controversial North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre and his friends have used a city-owned soccer stadium more that 100 times for free, in a direct violation of a city statute, records show.
An NBC 6 review of city records shows the lost fees from the use of the stadium equals some $40,000, a large amount of lost revenue as the city is making budget cuts.
The records show Pierre and his group played on the field for free over 100 times since the start of 2010, sometimes under the mayor's name and sometimes under the name "North Miami Taxpayers."
The group, which plays most Fridays and Sundays and sometimes more, racked up unpaid fees of $300, $400 $700 and even more per game, according to the records.
The stadium features expensive lighting and a two-person staff paid by the city.
While the free time on the pitch could be called a simple perk for Pierre, it goes against a city resolution that makes it clear that no one is exempt from paying unless it's a charity, and they're allowed just one exemption a year.
The resolution was signed by Pierre himself.
NBC 6 requested comment from Pierre through calls and texts to his cell phone and through his spokesperson, but received no response.
At an unrelated North Miami community meeting Tuesday night, some city leaders were incredulous over what some are calling "Soccergate."
"Administration at all levels was complicit, and they knew that it was going on and decided to ignore the laws of the city just to allow a bunch of guys to play soccer," said North Miami Council member Scott Galvin.
Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns said it would never have happened under his watch.
"It's almost a conspiracy, racketeering," Burns said.
Local schools, charities and small businesses pay more than $1,000 per game in rental fees at the stadium. And students from Alonzo Mourning High School, which is adjacent to the stadium, sell candy bars at 50 cents a piece to pay for athletics, including the stadium.
The students would have to sell some 80,000 candy bars to pay for Pierre's use of the field.
"Well, they probably wouldn't be too pleased about it," Mourning High Athletic Director Ron Shycko said.
Sources told NBC 6 that Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators are looking into "Soccergate," but the State Attorney's Office hasn't confirmed any investigation.