Back in 2002, Demetrio Perez Jr. had an epic fall from prominence. The then-Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Member was removed from public office following his 21-count federal indictment that he had been overcharging elderly tenants at his federally subsidized low income apartments in Little Havana for a decade.
He ended up pleading guilty to five federal charges, including mail fraud. He served six months of house arrest, two years of probation and 500 hours of community service, as well as having to pay thousands of dollars in fines, restitution and police investigative costs. But his crimes did nothing to diminish Perez's political clout.
Today, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro will ask his colleagues to issue $110 million in municipal bonds and use the proceeds to provide tax exempt, low interest financing for Perez's private and charter schools business ventures.
Before he got on the school board, Perez was a Miami city commissioner in the 1980s, where he made national headlines in 1982 when he demanded Hollywood filmmakers Oliver Stone and Brian de Palma rewrite their script for Scarface to turn title character Tony Montana into a spy for Fidel Castro because of the film's negative portrayal of Cuban immigrants who came during El Mariel.
Perez's Lincoln-Marti schools came under intense scrutiny when he was indicted. According to a Miami Herald investigative report from April 8, 2002, Perez "pocketed more than $1 million in rent payments from public funds that were meant to benefit a program for at-risk children."...
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