Hold the Phone! West Miami Mayor Charges $70,000 in Calls to City

Prosecutors said the calls had nothing to do with city business

Perhaps he should have dialed it back a notch.

West Miami Mayor Cesar Carasa has been suspended from office and charged with one count of exploiting his official position after he ran up a $70,000 cell phone bill through long distance calls to the Dominican Republic and China.

In the past three years, since he was elected in 2006, Carasa made nearly 7,000 international calls, according to the Miami Herald.

Prosecutors said the calls had nothing to do with city business, and West Miami has no sister cities.

City officials are given a number of minutes but are required to cover any minutes over their allotment.

The city has a deal with Sprint, who was able to build a cellphone tower in exchange for covering the bills, but last year, Carasa's bills became too much for the company to handle.

After he was approached by the city manager over his massive tab, Carasa "pleaded with her to make arrangements allowing him to make international calls on his city phone," a prosecutor's statement said.

No dice. Now Carasa, suspended by Gov. Charlie Crist, faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail, and will almost certainly lose his phone priviledges.

Vice Mayor Eduardo Muhina will take over until the next election on April 13.

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