Doral Police Chief Cleared of Criminal Wrongdoing

Chief had been investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds, bid tampering

Doral's police chief was cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the alleged misappropriation of funds and alleged bid tampering violation.

Chief Ricardo Gomez may have violated policy but committed no crimes, according to a memo released this week by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office's public corruption unit.

“The witchhunt is over, folks. They didn’t succeed," Gomez said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “The machincations of those with political interests that had a complete disregard for my family and I did not succeed."

He said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and her staff  “saw through a web of lies and rendered its decisions based on facts and evidence, and it was the correct one."

The investigation began last April after an anonymous letter was sent to the State Attorney's Office alleging a "good old boy system" in place at the Doral Police Department, according to the memo.

The first issue investigated was the use of city money for a police department swearing in ceremony at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa.

According to the memo, Emergency Vehicle Supply Company owed the city money for a refund, but paid the money directly to the resort to cover costs associated with the ceremony.

The president of EVS said a check was issued directly to the resort, as instructed by a member of the police department, the memo said.

Investigators determined the city funds were used to pay for a city event, and that no crime was committed.

"The question of the best use of city funds for city functions is an issue that should be addressed by the city, the city manager and the city commission," the memo read.

The second issue reviewed was related to the purchasing of office furniture for police department offices. A former Doral Police commander had alleged that a bidding process was undertaken for the furniture and that Gomez had some bids destroyed.

"There is no evidence that a formal bid process was commenced," the memo said, adding that "there is absolutely no evidence or allegations that Chief Gomez or the vendor illegally profited from the contract."

On Thursday, Gomez lashed out at a city councilman who he said inappropriately went to the media to claim "that there was corruption behind me without any evidence and without a full and complete investigation being done."

"He had been instructed by the city attorney not to comment on the investigation, and he disregarded those instructions and commented anyways," Gomez said. "That councilman, Pete Cabrera, ignored prudent and reasonable legal advice and went on a media blitz to discredit me, my department and the City of Doral.”

Cabrera could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

The day before, Doral City Manager Yvonne Soler-McKinley issued a statement supporting Gomez.

"I want to thank the State Attorney's Office and Katherine Fernandez Rundle for investigating this case and totally exonerating Chief Rick Gomez of any wrongdoing," she said. "I always knew that Chief Gomez was innocent."  

Gomez, who spent several years with the Miami-Dade Police department, has served as Doral's chief since 2007.

Gomez said he never left his post, but said the allegations made it very difficult for him to do his day-to-day job.

“This has been a nightmarish year for me," he said. "If it’s not for my family and my faith and my friends, I really don’t know if I could have made it through these times."

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