Miami City Attorney Under Investigation for Suspected Involvement in Real Estate Scandal

Miami City Attorney Under Investigation for Suspected Involvement in Real Estate Scandal

The Florida Bar is currently investigating Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez due to her close ties with companies that allegedly purchased homes from vulnerable Miami residents at significantly below-market prices and quickly resold them at substantial profits, sometimes on the same day.

This investigation, not previously disclosed, has been ongoing since at least April of the previous year, as indicated by an email from Rick Courtemanche, the deputy general counsel of the Florida Bar.

The email, obtained by the Herald, did not provide specific details, and a Bar spokesperson confirmed that the investigation is still in progress but did not offer additional information.

This investigation poses potential challenges for Méndez, who is already facing a lawsuit from an individual claiming to have been coerced into selling his family’s home in what he describes as a “conspiratorial scheme to enrich the city attorney and her husband.”

This adds to the city’s recent troubles, including a commissioner facing criminal charges, another receiving a $63 million judgment for harassment, and the mayor undergoing multiple investigations.

Despite a recent commission vote terminating her contract early, Méndez will remain the city attorney until June, earning over $340,000 as the second-highest-paid city employee.

In a recent interaction with reporters, Méndez disclosed the subject of the ongoing Bar inquiry, which is typically not made public until after the initial investigative process.

Miami City Attorney Under Investigation for Suspected Involvement in Real Estate Scandal

She mentioned that the investigation was prompted by the aforementioned lawsuit against her and her husband, Carlos Morales, who allegedly owned the company involved in buying and reselling homes. The probe also reportedly considers reporting by WLRN, a public radio affiliate in South Florida.

Méndez labeled the civil case as “bogus” and stated that the Bar investigation is contingent on the resolution of this lawsuit.

She characterized WLRN’s reporting as a “hit piece” and noted the details about her family’s profit from the Guardianship Program, a county initiative involving the sale of homes to cover the future care expenses of seniors and incapacitated residents.

The Bar investigation disclosure coincided with a new complaint filed by documentary filmmaker Billy Corben, accusing Méndez of unprofessional behavior and violating Bar rules during a recent commission meeting.

Corben alleged that Méndez interrupted public comment to accuse him, without evidence, of being paid by undisclosed individuals aiming to damage her reputation. Corben referred to Méndez as a “mob lawyer” during his comments.

She spoke to Corben from the dais, “You are a vile little man.” Her remarks were streamed live during the city commission meeting.

Corben showed up wearing a “Vile. Little. Man” t-shirt for the following commission meeting. During public comment, he made a play on words that went viral on social media: “I am going to vile a Bar complaint.”

The complaint contained a passage from a deposition in which the businessman Méndez, who was charged with financing Corben, denied any involvement in the matter while testifying under oath.

The outside legal representative for the city took the deposition. When Corben made her public declaration, she said the city attorney was “well aware” of the sworn statement.

Following an initial examination, Méndez will have 15 days to respond to Corben’s complaint, according to Florida Bar rules. At that point, the Bar will determine whether to proceed with an investigation or to reject the complaint.

“I am cautioning you writing about a Bar review that is not a public record and trying to damage my reputation,” Mendéz wrote. “Please govern yourselves accordingly.”