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Deliberations to continue Thursday in federal trial against Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo

By CBS Miami Team,


Closing arguments in civil trial of Joe Carollo 01:30

MIAMI -- Deliberations started Wednesday in the federal trial against Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo.

Jurors have left home for the day and they are expected to resume deliberations Thursday at 9 a.m.

The trial has unfolded over several weeks as Carollo, who took the stand on his own behalf, to fend off accusations that he used city resources to quash the First Amendment rights of two Little Havana businessmen.

At least 16 witnesses testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, and prosecution lawyers said Carollo claimed that they all lied under oath, including a former city manager and three former police chiefs.

Carollo, 68, has been in public office for 60 years and has created dozens of political friends -- and enemies.

William Fuller and Martin Pinilla, who operate a string of businesses along the Little Havana business corridor that include the iconic Ball & Chain nightclub, have sued the Miami politician and are seeking at least $2.5 million in damages.

The two business men contend in their federal complaint that the commissioner launched a vendetta against them after they announced support for attorney Alfonso "Alfie" Leon, who Carollo defeated in a runoff for Miami's Little Havana commission seat in 2017.

In the suit, the plaintiffs contend that Carollo pressured code enforcement officers to visit at least two of their venues on dozens of occasions and that Carollo wanted to have their liquor licenses pulled. The Miami Herald reported that one of the businesses closed while another relocated out of the area.

The trial went through a change of venue after a 100-year flood in Broward County prompted a relocation from federal court in Fort Lauderdale, and has included allegations of spying and juror intimidation, according to the Herald.

The judge has already denied motions for mistrials from Carollo's defense team, the newspaper reported.

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