Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Step one: arrest the pastor
Miami's ongoing saga of corruption, including the corruption of pastors (I have finally seen this one first hand, while working on an anti-gambling expansion effort. The other side had no shame, and no problem, buying pastors' silence... it's a cancer on Miami's Black community...) continues, only now, there's a new sheriff in town: Miami-Dade's "strong mayor," Carlos Alvarez. Alvarez isn't a politician, he's a cop. And he was elected to clean up this town. Backed by a, shall we say, vigorous, prosecutor, he's going after the smaller fish, with an aim toward reeling in some marlins.

Today's contestant is Rev. Gaston Smith, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain to the Miami Police Department, and president of the Baptist Ministers Council of Greater Miami-Dade and Vicinity. The Miami Herald picks it up from there:
A well-respected Liberty City pastor was arrested late Thursday and charged with stealing $10,000 earmarked for the low-income area, according to WFOR-CBS4.

The Rev. Gaston Smith, senior pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, faces second-degree grand theft charges.

Smith, 41, had been under investigation for several weeks by the public corruption unit of the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, sources told The Miami Herald. They were tracing money as part of a larger investigation on public corruption in the city of Miami.

The state attorney's office has been investigating controversial loans made by the Metro Miami Action Plan Trust. Two years ago, the trust presented Smith with a check at his church to be used for his congregation's financial needs.

According to WFOR-CBS4, Smith took a $25,000 county grant that was supposed to go to his nonprofit group Friends of MLK. The money was to be used to buy fliers and posters for community outreach, to help start an Internet website to promote local efforts, for an MLK fundraiser and to coordinate a senior citizens community garden.

Instead, Smith is accused of pocketing most of the money.
So what did he do with the money? We'll get to that in the next post. For now, here's more on the Set man of the House:
Smith has received honors from the U.S. Congress, Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and the Congressional Black Caucus.

In 2007, Smith was honored with a Pillar award by the Black Heritage Planning Committee of Miami-Dade County's Black Affairs Advisory Board, for his contributions to the South Florida community.
BTW a "save our pastor" rally is planned at Friendship tomorrow. Feel free to be there, and wear pretty colors for the investigators' long-lens cameras...

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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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