Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Simon Says
Did a whistle blower from Miami Lakes stalk the town's vice mayor? The answer depends on who you're asking. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Nancy Simon: "Well, I'm a vice mayor for the town of Miami Lakes."
Nancy Simon says she needs court-ordered protection from one of her constituents, Gus Abella.
Nancy Simon: "I am afraid of this man. Intimidated and nervous when he's around me and just sitting here is causing me a lot of mental anguish."
Simon got a temporary injunction against Abella after claiming he stalked and harassed her.
Nancy Simon: "The most egregious incident occurred right outside Publix."
According to Simon's petition, her daughter was taking pictures of Abella's car outside of Publix .
He believes it's because he had a sign on it that read "Vice Mayor Nancy Simon should resign."
The petition alleges Abella "came out of his car swinging his hands in the air and screaming at her. The petitioner (Simon) ran to her car and left with her family."
Now she wants a permanent injunction. Something Abella's attorney says is unwarranted.
Joseph Altschul: "His position is he has never harassed her, and he never intends to harass her, and he believes this whole time being here is retaliation because of a story that ran in the press."
That story would be a Seven News Investigation called "Lawmaker or Lawbreaker?'
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like to talk with you about the status of your real estate license."
We revealed Simon is the subject of a state investigation regarding her possible involvement in the real estate business.
It's an investigation sparked by a complaint from Gus Abella and his wife.
Gus Abella: "We felt it was our duty to file it."
Although her realtor's license is no longer valid, Simon admitted to showing a neighbor's house.
Carmel Cafiero: "You're acting as a realtor aren't you when you show a property? Isn't that considered acting as a realtor?
Nancy Simon: "No."
Carmel Cafiero: "No?"
Nancy Simon: "I don't think so. I'm not negotiating anything."
At the time, Simon was critical of the couple.
Nancy Simon: "They're local troublemakers is what they are."
Carmel Cafiero: "And when the local newspaper, 'The Miami Laker,' ran a story about our story, the trouble continued. Simon complained, and the paper decided it would no longer cover local politics. But the paper says that decision had nothing to do with pressure from Simon."
In a faxed statement to Seven News, editor Roger Reece wrote, "We don't believe our role as a community newspaper is compatible with the extensive coverage expectations of local politicians."
Nancy Simon: "I don't want him near me or my children."
And now an emotional Simon has gone to court, asking that Abella be kept away from her.
Nancy Simon: "But there's a point where I feel intimidated and I feel threatened, and I can't go to sleep at night because I don't know who's out there."
But there was no decision on who is right or wrong here.
Once everyone was in court Simon asked for a delay because she didn't have an attorney. Abella's attorney didn't buy it.
Joseph Altschul: "And to come here and have us sit here for hours with this man having to incur the expense of an attorney under these dreadful allegations, and then come and say, 'I didn't know about any of this,' I think that's rather disingenuous."
There will be another hearing in a month. Meanwhile, Abella has to stay 25 feet away from Simon.
Joseph Altschul: "I think this is retribution for essentially voicing complaints about a public official."
We couldn't talk with Simon about that. She ducked out an emergency exit after the hearing.