MIAMI — A judge investigating a campaign finance scandal involving former state representative and Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Greco recommended suspending Greco’s legal license for 90 days, according to a report released Tuesday.
The report was released by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge George As part of the Florida State Bar case, Sarduy called on the Florida Supreme Court to find that Grieco violated the state’s rules against attorneys involved in dishonest conduct or “criminal conduct against attorneys.”
The state Supreme Court will now make a final decision on whether and how Grieco should be disciplined. In addition to the proposed suspension, Sarduy’s report ordered Grieco to pay unspecified costs in the Florida Bar Association’s lawsuit.
Grieco, Prominent South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Rumor is Given a run for Miami Beach mayor later this year, he was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night. His attorney in the Florida attorney’s case, Ben Kuehne, said in a statement that Grico “respected the referee’s recommendation.”
“The Florida Supreme Court has a responsibility to determine the outcome of these long-ago charges,” Kuehne said. “Since then, Michael Grieco has continued to fight for his clients and represent the best interests of the community.”
Kuehne added, “Miami Beach voters already know this topic and have elected and re-elected [Grieco] Florida Legislature. “
Grico, 47, resigned as Miami Beach commissioner in 2017 amid a campaign finance scandal. He was elected as a Democratic state representative in 2018 and ran unopposed two years later. He applied to run for the state Senate in 2021 against incumbent Iliana Garcia, but withdrew last summer.
Florida State Bar spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis declined to comment on the case. The Bar Association filed a formal complaint against Grieco in July 2017.
The case relates to Grieco’s conduct during his unsuccessful 2017 bid for mayor of Miami Beach. That year, Grieco pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge that a political committee he secretly managed accepted $25,000 in foreign money funneled through straw donors.
In 2021, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found that Grieco had mischaracterized his affiliation with the committee, People for Better Leaders, first by telling the Miami Herald that he had nothing to do with the committee, and then by telling the Herald: “This Absolutely untrue . . . you could look right into my soul.”
Sarduy, the judge in the Florida Bar case, concluded that Grieco’s statement “was designed to mislead the media and the public about his true involvement with the PAC.”
The 64-page referee’s report, dated Sept. 30, 2022, was published in the public online case brief on Tuesday.
It noted that Grieco initially said through his lawyers that he was an attorney for the PAC, but later testified under oath during the referee’s investigation that he did not.
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“It is thus clear that interviewee narratives and testimonies on this topic vary depending on the audience presented and what the interviewees wish to achieve,” Sarduy wrote.
Sarduy added that Grico made false statements to the committee “with regard to his participation, under oath before me, during these proceedings.”
Kuehne said Grieco “presented the facts to the referee fully and accurately.”
Grieco’s troubles began during the 2017 mayoral election. On the campaign trail, he has been outspoken and willing to take on special interests at town hall. But a Herald investigation found he was quietly running a PAC to raise money from a number of special interests, including developers, lobbyists and city suppliers. Donors to the committee said Greco himself had asked them to donate.
When asked by the Herald, Greco denied in the strongest possible terms his involvement.
“I don’t [political committee]said Greco. “I didn’t set one up.” I have not solicited one.
That statement and other similar denials were deemed untrue, first by the Miami-Dade Ethics Committee and now by the referees.
In releasing his disciplinary recommendation, Sarduy noted that Grieco was publicly reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court in 2008 in connection with his conduct as an assistant state attorney. The bar association accused Grieco of interfering in a friend’s assault case, leading detectives to believe he was involved and later demanding special treatment from his friend.