SAO drops battery charge on CJ Gimenez in ‘Slapgate’ scene with ADLP

Miami commissioner lashes out against ‘timid’ State Attorney

Nearly six months after he was arrested and forced to spend the night in jail, Coral Gables attorney lobbyist Carlos Julio “CJ” Gimenez — the son of the former county mayor and current congressman — was off the hook Tuesday when the State Attorney dropped a battery charge against him for slapping Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla on the head.

The “slap heard ’round Miami” was at a sidewalk table at Morton’s on Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables, on a clear Wednesday afternoon in February.

So what took so long?

“The state spent an enormous amount of time and money on this,” Gimenez attorney Michael Band told Ladra, calling the experience a “tortured journey” for CJ. It was also a massive waste of public resources.

“It was an exhaustive investigation for a misdemeanor charge,” Band said.

Read related: Details, witness accounts on the arrest of CJ Gimenez in Coral Gables’ ‘Slapgate’

The timing is especially interesting because the hearing on Tuesday was actually to hear Band’s motion to move forward with subpoenas. That means depositions and sworn statements would be taken from Diaz de la Portilla and his lunch mates that day — his BBF (best bagman forever), the disgraced former Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernandez, lobbyist Carlos Lago, brother of the Coral Gables mayor, and Lago’s client, Raul Nuñez of A+ Mini Storage.

Oh, and the commissioner’s bodyguard Sgt. at Arms, Det. Stanley Paul-Noel.

Can you imagine the questions Band could have asked about what they were talking about at lunch and what kind of deal they were cooking? Maybe we would find out where Diaz de la Portilla actually lives, because it’s not District 1. Band said he was really looking forward to asking Lago, an attorney with the prominent Greenberg Traurig firm, about his role in the Feb. 9 events.

But nobody wanted those depos to happen. Especially not Diaz de la Portilla.

“Who’s the coward now,” Band asked, using a word ADLP used in February to describe Gimenez.

To recap for anyone hiding under a rock: Gimenez was walking near his office in downtown Coral Gables when he came upon ADLP and his lunch group, walked up, said “Hey pussy, remember me,” and then slapped Diaz de a Portilla on the side of the head.

Immediately, he was chased down and manhandled by the commissioner’s bodyguard, who is also a sworn Miami police officer working as a sergeant at arms. At one point, Gimenez is thrown to the ground by Paul-Noel, who forcefully held him until Gables Police arrived and took Gimenez to the city’s police station. Then things got weird.

Read related: Videos show CJ Gimenez ‘slap’, zealous takedown by Miami Police bodyguard

At some point a Miami Police officer comes into the holding cell, handcuffs Gimenez and takes him out/ It seems that Miami Police wanted to process the arrest — and trump up more charges probably, and maybe knock Gimenez around a bit. Apparently, a Gables police officer thought that seemed a little weird and it looks like he stopped it. According to sources who have seen the department video and/or were in the holding cell area, Gimenez was then brought back to the pen in his handcuffs. Moments later, his handcuffs were removed.

It seems that Gimenez escaped being basically kidnapped by a police force. I would imagine Band might have wanted to depose Miami and Gables police officers.

So, no, it’s not a coincidence that the SAO announced on Tuesday that they were not going to prosecute. They had to know earlier. A close-out memo written by Assistant State Attorney Kristen Rodriguez says that the incident didn’t amount to much of anything.

“After a complete review of the case, including speaking with witnesses, reviewing discovery and researching the case law, it is clear that though the defendant did effectuate an unwanted touch upon the victim, the contact made was so de minimis that it does not warrant prosecution,” Rodriguez wrote.

De minimus. Like mínimo. Like nothing to see here folks, move along.

This proves that the police response and arrest of Gimenez was always over the top. This misdemeanor case should never have been handled the way it was and wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t CJ Gimenez and ADLP we’re talking about. Anybody else in a similar situation — a sidewalk he said/he said scuffle — would be given a PTA, or “promise to appear” in court and gone home to watch the Late Show and sleep in his own bed.

Read related: Miami Police reportedly wanted to take custody of CJ Gimenez in Gables fracas

The difference here, the X Factor, was that ADLP had a bodyguard who is a cop. police officer Sgt. At Arms in Det. Stanley Paul-Noel and it’s possible the commissioner abused his power. A la “go get him. Make him pay.”

Diaz de la Portilla did not respond to several texted questions on the dropped charges. He did issue a statement to a local news station in which he attacked Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez-Rundle for her handling of the case.

“As the victim of an unprovoked criminal attack in broad daylight, I am disturbed that the State Attorney has run away from her responsibility to protect crime victims. Obviously, she bowed to the demands of a high ranking public official to protect daddy’s little boy,” Diaz de la Portilla said, referring to Congressman Carlos Gimenez.

“This result is all too common in a politicized criminal court system in which pay-to-play takes a front seat, while justice and protection of the innocent is all but forgotten,” The Dean said. “This is a troubling indication of the State Attorney’s priorities. We must demand more accountability from our to timid prosecutor.”

At the time of the incident, Diaz de la Portilla minimized it and called it a “flick of the wrist.”

Band said it was outrageous that the commissioner would try to bring Papi Gimenez into it. “The congressman stayed completely away from it. No politician that I’m aware of made a single phone call,” Band said.

Read related: Alex Diaz de la Portilla is investigated on ghost city employee at Omni CRA

It’s also kinda crazy for him to attack KFR, who may be holding back on other investigations into Diaz de la Portilla’s multiple scams: ghost employees, shakedowns of city vendors, missing COVID-19 Visa gift cards.

It occurs to Ladra that the witnesses were not so cooperative with the SAO and that’s why the case was dropped. Nobody wants those depos to happen.

But it’s not over yet. The city of Miami has launched an internal investigation into Paul-Noel to see if abused his power. They should investigate the commissioner and his abuse of power if he made it happen.

Because the incident was de minimus. But what happened afterwards was not.