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As federal prosecutors, Allan Sullivan and Andres Rivero worked some fairly high-profile cases. Sullivan prosecuted former CenTrust chairman David Paul; Rivero went after General Development Corp. in a real estate fraud case. The walls of their conference room on the 25th floor of the Miami Center are filled with artists’ rendering of their courtroom hey day. But two years ago, Sullivan, Rivero and a third federal prosecutor, William Xanttopoulos, gave up the limelight to go into business for themselves. While the cases that Sullivan & Rivero handle — Xanttopoulos since has left the firm — are interesting, they haven’t generated the kind of ink or publicity these lawyers once enjoyed. That is until a few weeks ago when Sullivan received a call from Miami Mayor Joe Carollo. Carollo called asking for their help. He wanted them to assist with his investigation of former Miami City Manager Donald Warshaw and his alleged mishandling of money belonging to the police pension fund and a police charity. At first, the two wondered whether it would be a good idea to “jump into that fray,” admits Sullivan. But once a federal prosecutor, it’s hard to say no to an opportunity to become a gumshoe again. “This opportunity gives us a chance to go back and do what we did when we were with the U.S. attorney’s office, which is to go back and look at and investigate a situation, devoid of any political pressures you might have if you were in an office where you had a political master,” Sullivan said. The job pays nothing, so money was not a motivating factor. What ultimately caused them to accept Carollo’s offer was a unique opportunity to, for the first time, defend the use of subpoena powers that were given to the mayor in 1997 under a city charter change. “I didn’t know that the mayor had subpoena power,” said Rivero, who himself once had political aspirations, running unsuccessfully for a Florida House seat six years ago. “It didn’t exist until 1997 and I don’t think it has ever been used,” he said. Subpoena power allows Carollo to bring in witnesses and get to the bottom of allegations of possible wrong doing. “We both exercised subpoena power as federal prosecutors so we know it can be very powerful in helping to resolve controversies,” Rivero said. Benedict Kuehne, Carollo’s attorney, confirmed that the mayor has never invoked his subpoena power but has every right to use it. “The ability of an executive to require compliance with subpoenas is perhaps the only way the facts will be fully aired,” Kuehne said. “If we rely on the voluntary goodwill of people, since this is such a politically charged hot potato, people will be hesitant to cooperate,” he said. Section 14 of the city charter reads: “The mayor, commission or any committee thereof may investigate the financial transactions of any office or department of the city government and the official acts and conduct of any city official … In conducting such investigations the mayor, commission or any committee thereof, may require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers and other evidence.” It’s Warshaw’s position that the information requested “do[es] not constitute financial transactions of any office or department of the city government or any official acts of any office or department of the city government,” as argued in Warshaw’s motion to quash the subpoena. “This isn’t a financial matter relating to the city,” said Pamela Terranova, one of Warshaw’s attorneys. It’s Warshaw’s contention that the organizations for which the records have been sought were not financial documents relating to city business and he was not acting as a city official. At issue are charges Warshaw made to an American Express credit card that belonged to the charity Do the Right Thing, where he is a top officer and member of its board. Warshaw has admitted to using the credit card to make personal charges, but has said he repaid the money. His attorneys say the organization is not an office or department of city government and therefore is exempt from the subpoena. The scandal broke last year, but died down. For a while, it appeared that Carollo was satisfied that no money had been misappropriated. It wasn’t until the removal of Elian Gonzalez by armed federal agents and the subsequent firing of Warshaw and the resignation of Police Chief William O’Brien that the matter was resurrected. “This came up at least a year ago and at no time did the mayor raise any issues,” said Terranova. “It was only at the time [Carollo] terminated [Warshaw] that this became an issue.” Though it won’t comment, the U.S. attorney’s office reportedly is investigating Warshaw, which raises the question whether Sullivan and Rivero are duplicating the efforts of their former office. “We don’t know what the investigation is that the U.S. attorney’s office is conducting. What we do know, because we were both corruption prosecutors, is that those types of investigations can take years and years and years to resolve,” Rivero said. “They can sometimes be resolved in a private fashion without ever becoming public. What we are doing is designed to get answers for the taxpayers of Miami about how public moneys are being spent.” If the charity’s funds were mishandled, Sullivan said he and Rivero will have to figure out how, why and if there were others who knew about it. Once they have gathered all of the facts, the information will be turned over to the mayor, who will make recommendations that could range from civil litigation to criminal prosecution. “It may simply be that it ends with a report which is used to effect changes in the future so that certain practices are not repeated,” Kuehne said. Rivero suggests that even more importantly the case will allow the courts to establish the proper way to use subpoena power and “create a situation where elected officials have the ability to, and are expected to, clean their own house. “If people know that elected officials have the power to go clean house, it will have a positive result,” Rivero said.

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