Once I read the opening sentence of an article posted by the Miami New Times entitled, Biscayne Park’s Temp Top Cop Once Suspended for Boozing With Babes, I just knew this was a story I couldn’t pass up.
Reporter Michael E. Miller had me at, “Let’s play trivia. Today’s topic: laughably inept local governments. Can you name the Miami-Dade village that mysteriously suspended its top three cops March 27?”
That column, combined with a Miami Herald article published last night, Former police chief denies taking loan from officer as Biscayne Park leaders allege, begins to solve the whole Bermuda Triangle mystery of the disappearing cops in the Village of Biscayne Park.
The former Biscayne Park police chief referred to in the Herald article is none other than Ray Atesiano, who applied for a job at the North Miami Beach Police Department on February 20, 2014.
The infinitely more entertaining Miami New Times article relates the story of a Biscayne Park cop who was hired after he quit the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department in the middle of an Internal Affairs investigation, which eventually “found him guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and inappropriate use of a county vehicle” involving a Beer, Boobs & Bullets Beach Party.
Yeah, go read the story.
Despite Officer Thomas “Tommy” Harrison’s interesting but checkered career in law enforcement, not only did the Village of Biscayne Park Police Department hire him, but they promoted him to Interim Chief to fill in for Ray Atesiano, who was mysteriously suspended along with two other members of the command staff on March 27, 2014.
Tommy’s gig as top cop was short-lived as the Village quickly replaced him with a new Interim Chief, former Coral Springs Police Chief Duncan Foster, as reported in the Miami Herald article. Village Manager Heidi Shafran denies the switch had anything to do with the Herald’s digging into Harrison’s past, despite the fact that she demoted him one day after a public records request was made for his police record. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.
The Police Chief Musical Chairs game in Biscayne Park appears to have started with the discovery of a loan made by Harrison to the former Chief, which was apparently an ethically questionable move on the part of Atesiano.
According to a hand drawn “contract,” Atesiano was to repay the $2,000.00 loan at a rate of “$150 a pay period. & 2 off duties a week & 8 hours OT a pay period.” About this loan, Village Manager Shafran told the Herald, “A manager should never borrow money from a subordinate. And I also have concerns about how the money was to be repaid. It’s a betrayal of the village. He was using village funds and manpower to repay a personal loan.”
Although Atesiano claims the whole thing was a joke, that “no money was ever borrowed,” and that he and another officer were only “making fun of Tommy,” it’s apparently not a joke to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. The executive director of the Commission, Joe Centorino told the Herald, “We will take a look at it.”
Seeing as how Ray Atesiano is not:
- Politically connected to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle or Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez;
- A local mayor whose constituents are necessary for the re-election of either of the above; and
- Does not appear to be married to a Circuit Court Judge…
Let ’em Go Joe will most likely find Probable Cause.
Every once in a while the Commission needs a sacrificial lamb to justify its taxpayer funded existence.
Mazel Tov, Ray! You are that lamb.
Also suspended with Atesiano were Cpl. Nicholas Wollschlager, who has since been reinstated while still under investigation, and Capt. Larry Churchman, a Sweetwater recruit, who earned a plaque on the LEO Wall of Shame – Unfit for Duty – by being “featured in a 2011 story by the Sarasota Herald Tribune about embattled cops who remain in uniform.”
And did I also mention that he’s from Sweetwater?
Yeah, ’nuff said about that.
Meanwhile, no one has yet to figure out what this whole Biscayne Park scandal has to do with off-duty jobs in Miami Beach. Maybe the Ethics Commission will solve that mystery for us.
Former Village of Biscayne Park Police Chief Ray Atesiano now wants to join the ranks of North Miami Beach’s Finest. For the love of decency, I hope he’s not being seriously considered for the job. Morale is bad enough at the PD. How humiliating would it be to get a Biscayne Park reject? Oh, I don’t even wanna think about it.
Cheer up, Ray. If you don’t get the job, there’s always Opa-Locka.
They’ll hire anybody.
“Spreading the Wealth”