NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott has suspended North Miami Beach commissioner Frantz Pierre after his arrest on charges of bribery and money laundering,
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced Pierre's arrest on Wednesday.
Investigators found Dean Tyler, the owner of Dean's Gold strip club, paid Commissioner Frantz Pierre $12,500 in bribes from December 2013 to September 2014 to vote in his favor, according to the arrest warrant.
"Mail $7-8K to Frantz Pierre at 821 NE 121 Street, NORTH MIAMI, FL 33162. BE FOREVER BLESSED," a text message from Pierre to Tyler said, according to investigators.
"I just put a check for $7,000 in the mail," Tyler reportedly responded. "It will go out tomorrow."
"Thank you so much," Pierre, 53, reportedly wrote. "That will not be forgotten."
Investigators have evidence that Tyler and Pierre also met at the strip club to discuss the deal. Tyler needed Pierre to change his mind about allowing him to get a license to keep the strip club open until 6 a.m.
"Pierre had voted against the 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Business Tax Receipt for Dean's Gold in 2013, but then he voted for the 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Business Tax Receipt for Dean's Gold in 2014, in 2015 and again in 2016," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.
Investigators accuse Pierre of asking Tyler to donate $9,865 to Community Hope for Children and Families in Need, a non-for-profit owned by Jacquelin Alexis, who also owns Psychoed & Consultation Services. Alexis is accused of giving $5,250 to Pierre.
Alexis also solicited $5,000 from the city for an after-school tutoring program that investigators say doesn't exist. After the city issued $2,000 from Pierre's discretionary fund with the commission to Community Hope for Children and Families in Need, investigators say Alexis paid Pierre $2,905.
"This program was used, it was used, as a means of laundering additional money that was provided to commissioner Pierre," Fernandez-Rundle said.
Investigators say Pierre knew he was involved in bribery, unlawful compensation, and an organized scheme to defraud when he accepted four checks from Tyler and three checks from Alexis. Officers also arrested Alexis on one count of grand theft.
In May, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found Pierre guilty of exploiting his position to avoid code violations on his home and the North Miami Beach commission fined him $1,000 and issued a letter of reprimand.
According to the investigation of the complaint, Pierre had been issued two code violations in 2015 that upset him so much, he threatened to fire city employees if they didn't stay away from his house.Pierre allegedly said he would also fire the city manager and code compliance director, and tore down the posted notice and threw it in the direction of the code enforcement officer's car.
Pierre, who was removed from office in January for not attending meetings for six months and was reinstated in May, turned himself in to authorities. He is facing charges of bribery, reward for official behavior, organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and money laundering.