Testifying in civil trial, ex-city manager says Carollo targeted business owners
Former Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez testified in the federal civil trial of Joe Carollo Tuesday, saying the powerful city commissioner did use his influence to target two business partners.
Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, of popular Little Havana nightclub Ball & Chain, are suing Carollo, accusing him of abusing his power to target and harass business owners who opposed him.
Ball & Chain faced numerous police raids and code enforcement violations, its owners said.
The trial is being held in Fort Lauderdale federal court.
Gonzalez testified Tuesday that as the city’s top administrator, he got along well with Carollo, until the Ball & Chain controversy surfaced.
He testified that Carollo was “targeting” Ball & Chain and its owners’ other businesses allong Calle Ocho.
Gonzalez also testified that staffers were afraid not to comply with Carollo’s requests for code and police inspections.
The jury saw a clip of a 2019 meeting soon after the lawsuit was filed, where the commissioner defended his position that Fuller and Pinilla were skirting codes.
The then-city manager would cite that kind of circus and “politics of personal destruction” as the reason for his resignation.
On the stand Tuesday, he appeared to have no eye contact with his former commissioner.
Some of Miami’s former top administrators are on the witness list. Jurors will hear from them next week.