Felon fired amid investigation, then quickly re-hired by Miami commissioner

Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla says Jenny Nillo is actually a victim

Jenny Nillo is part of a state investigation and was quickly hired by Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla after she was fired Tuesday from a job investigators believe was a no-show position arranged by the commissioner. (Image from Jenny Nillo's Facebook page)

MIAMI – A convicted federal felon, under scrutiny by state investigators, was fired Tuesday from a job investigators believe was a no-show position arranged by a Miami city commissioner.

Hours later, that commissioner, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, re-hired her for a position in his office.

Diaz de la Portilla insists no state investigation exists, and he says his hand-picked employee is the victim.

Jenny Nillo received a terse, two-sentence notice of termination from the director of Miami’s Omni-area Community Redevelopment Agency, who hired her at the behest of Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla, who is also the CRA’s chair.

Her firing there comes several months into an ongoing multifaceted state investigation described by sources as documenting Nillo, Diaz de la Portilla’s former legislative aide and long-time confidant, using a taxpayer-funded position and a city-issued automobile to do the commissioner’s personal bidding.

Diaz de la Portilla requested that the Omni CRA Director hire Nillo last April. After two raises since then, she was most recently paid $53,000 annually before her firing Tuesday.

Nillo is currently serving probation after serving time in federal prison for her role in a 2017 mortgage fraud scheme, for which she pleaded guilty. Diaz de la Portilla arranged her hiring at the CRA several months after her release from prison.

Photo of Jenny Nillo's office at the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. (Glenna Milberg, WPLG)

Diaz de la Portilla sent a text message Tuesday from Houston, where he said he was traveling on business, that “there is no state investigation.”

He texted that he is doing his own oversight requests with the CRA he chairs, because of his own suspicions of impropriety there.

Hours after Nillo’s termination, Diaz de la Portilla hired her as for a “community outreach” position and gave her a “slight” salary increase, he said, for “what they have put her and her family through.”

Her salary is not in public documents yet.

Nillo was not at her home Tuesday afternoon, nor at the Omni CRA office, where staffers declined to comment.

A person who answered the phone at her listed telephone number hung up on Local 10 News′ call.

At a city event Tuesday morning, Miami City Manager Art Noriega said he has no involvement with Nillo nor CRA administrative activities.

A box of unopened business cards seen on the desk of Jenny Nillo's office. (Glenna Milberg, WPLG)

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."