Miami political drama: No-show employee raises questions

Woman planted at CRA by city commissioner didn’t come to work for 11 months, boss says

Jenny Nillo didn't show up for work for 11 months, says the Community Redevelopment Agency director who fired Jenny Nillo from a job she was planted in by City of Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.

MIAMI – State investigators have spent months coming and going into Miami’s Omni Community Redevelopment Agency looking for an employee they likely won’t find showing up — Jenny Nillo.

“For 11 months she never showed up for work,” said CRA Director Jason Walker, who fired her Tuesday with a short letter.

Nillo is the focus of an 11-month, ongoing Miami-style drama about a $53,000 per year no-show employee who is taxpayer funded, in a city-issued car, doing the personal work of the man who got her the job — CRA Chair and City of Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.

It includes Nillo — she told staffers — campaigning for Diaz de la Portilla’s brother’s failed commission campaign, on the public’s dime.

“He’s the boss. He’s the chairman. And so we did what he wanted to do,” Walker said of Diaz de la Portilla.

Local 10 News first reported Tuesday that Nillo was quickly rehired to Diaz de la Portilla’s commission office after her firing.

Nillo sent a text message to Local 10 News on Wednesday afternoon, sharing that she is outraged and saying she was terminated from the CRA without reason or explanation.

Nillo’s office at the CRA is nearly bare, inside it an unopened box of business cards is still sealed.

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

The one photo is of herself with Diaz de la Portilla. She’s a long-time, apparently loyal, worker for him and his family, long involved in Miami politics and government.

From out of town, Diaz de la Portilla tells Local 10 News he planted Nillo as a CRA employee to be his spy, of sorts.

“When I became chairman of the CRA,” he texted, “I began to suspect certain irregularities in the way the agency does business...”

Diaz de la Portilla acknowledges putting Nillo in the CRA job months after her release from federal prison for mortgage fraud, which might make her an odd choice to oversee those who deal in millions in land deals

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

“Not only odd to me, I think it’s odd to anybody that has half a brain that he would send someone like that to do that,” Walker said. “And also she didn’t do a very good job because she was never here to monitor what we were doing.”

The state investigation became public when Nillo was suddenly pulled over last week in that city-issued car, though even Miami’s city manager says he knows nothing about it.

“I have no idea,” City Manager Art Noriega said. “From what I hear it was done by Miami-Dade County. The City of Miami police had nothing to do with that at all.”

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."