what you should Know
- Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo spoke to NBC6 on Tuesday, just days after a jury found him liable for $63 million in a federal lawsuit
- Carollo said he is confident the jury’s verdict will be overturned on appeal and said he has no plans to pay the judgment
- Carollo said the city also won’t pay the massive fine and laughed off calls for him to resign
Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo believes a $63 million judgment against him in a civil political retaliation case will be overturned on appeal and said he has no plans to pay the huge sum.
In an exclusive interview with NBC6 on Tuesday, Carollo defended himself less than a week after a federal jury found him liable in a lawsuit filed by two businessmen who claim Carollo used his office to harass them in political retaliation.
A jury found Carollo liable for violating the First Amendment rights of Little Havana business owners William Fuller and Martin Pinilla.
Fuller, the owner of the Ball and Chain restaurant and club, and Pinilla alleged that Carollo armed the city’s police and code enforcement departments to shut down several of their businesses in Little Havana because they supported his political opponent.
Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo called the $63 million settlement absurd after a federal jury found him liable in a political retaliation case.
Carollo denied the allegations on Tuesday.
“I did nothing wrong, nothing was shown, not one person could tell, nor could it be shown to any person, that I ordered anyone to do anything wrong. “Unfortunately, the jury never got to hear as much from the people who are residents in Little Havana, who couldn’t sleep at night,” Carollo told NBC6. “I have no doubt that once it is appealed, it will be overturned.”
The jury awarded Fuller more than $25 million in punitive damages and more than $8 million in compensatory damages. Pinilla was awarded nearly $22 million in punitive damages and more than $7 million in compensatory damages.
Carollo said there was no way he could pay the judgment.
“I would love it if I was a defrauded elected official who had all kinds of money. But unfortunately for them and they know it, I was an honest elected official that I don’t have that much money and you know it,” he said.
Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo was found liable in a federal lawsuit and ordered to pay $63 million — but where will that money come from? NBC6’s Lorena Inclan reports
It’s unclear who will pay for the damages, though Carollo insisted the city won’t be penalized for it.
During the trial, it was reported that the city had already paid about $2 million in Carollo’s legal fees. He said Tuesday that the city likely paid another $1 million or more.
He said taxpayers footing the bill is appropriate.
“Can you imagine who would run for public office if rich people could sue you for every decision they didn’t like? Who’s going to run for office then if you’re going to have to pay the attorney fees out of your own pocket?” Carollo said. “Obviously they could have been spent a lot better, but it’s not my fault that they’re the ones who filed a lawsuit like this against me, against the city of Miami separately.”
Carollo said he generated millions for the City through contracts he negotiated, an amount far in excess of attorneys’ fees.
“Joe Carollo was a money-making machine for the city of Miami,” he said. “Even if, say, over the next 20 years the city of Miami has to pay $2 million, $3 million in legal fees for me, it’s a great deal to have me as an elected official because I bring them millions more new ideas that generate recurring revenue , than anything they will have to pay.”
A group of Miami residents and business owners are calling for Commissioner Joe Carollo to resign after a federal jury found him liable for more than $63 million in a lawsuit that accused him of political vendetta.
Carollo spoke after a group of activists held a press conference outside Miami City Hall to call for Carollo’s resignation. The commissioner laughed off the suggestion that he would resign.
“Those 15 people who were there in front of the town hall are part of the same group that the plaintiffs have been with in recent years,” he said. “They tried to recall me and they failed. They opposed my last re-election a year and a half ago and I won with 65% of the vote. So this is not new.”