Former Doral City Manager Joe Carollo is suing the city and some of its leaders for allegedly violating his constitutional rights, the state law protecting whistleblowers, and the Doral city charter.
Carollo is suing to get his job back after he was fired from his position as city manager in April of this year. The former city manager said he is suing “for justice” and so he and others “have justice.”
“From the very early on, we started seeing so many things that were wrong,” Carollo said. “That we had no alternative other than go to the proper law enforcement authorities.”
The lawsuit refers to a meeting that was captured on surveillance video where Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, former councilman Pete Cabrera (who is running for the same office again), and the Mayor’s long-time business associate and land developer Carlos Tovar. The group is seen meeting in a Doral restaurant a short-time before Tovar filed a false police report claiming Carollo assaulted him.
Carollo and Tovar had a heated exchange before Tovar said Carollo assaulted him. Police eventually arrested Tovar for filing a false police report. Carollo and his attorneys said the false report was one of many things he was subjected to while trying to expose what he saw as corruption in the city.
“He wanted to take a stand and do the right thing and he put the principles of justice and the Constitution above his own interest and who knew there might be a price to pay,” said Carollo’s attorney, Diana Fitzgerald.
The State Attorney's office, however, declined to file charges against Tovar, saying: "Had the City Manager not been involved, the case would not have been given the scrutiny and intense police work that it was given. Under normal circumstances, there would not have been an arrest."
"We regret that Mr. Carollo continues to tarnish Mr. Tovar's reputation," said his attorney, Jesus Suarez, in an e-mail to NBC 6.
According to the lawsuit, city leaders Boria, Fraga, and Ruiz are being sued as individuals, and “in their official capacities,” and the lawsuit said all three “acted in bad faith, and or with malicious purpose and/or outside the scope of their duties.”
“The things that were wrong and incorrect that I went to the authorities on, the rules that the city council established, in fact said that’s what the city manager should do,” Carollo said.
Carollo wants to once again become Doral’s city manager and also wants all his benefits restored and back pay. The Doral city attorney said he hasn’t been served with the legal action yet, so they couldn’t comment about the lawsuit.
Cabrera, who is not named as a defendant in the suit, issued a statement to NBC 6’s Willard Shepard that said: “Doral residents are sick and tired of the instability that my opponent, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, and her counterpart, Joe Carollo, have made this city go through. It is shameful that six days prior to an election, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera causes yet another scandal, as if her erratic behavior wasn’t enough. This is precisely why Doral residents have asked me to run.”
Aguilera responded saying in part, "I find it sad and ironic that my opponent, who was sued by the City clerk for aggressive behavior and cost the city thousands of dollars and in addition had numerous complaints filed against him by female city employees before he unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of our city now attacks me for his involvement in a lawsuit in which I am not a named party or even involved"