South Florida Business Leader Arrested!

Coral Gables candidate for office Richard Martin

Former candidate for Coral Gables City Commission Richard Martin’s booking photo (Click on the mug for more famous SoFla baddies)

Richard Martin, the president of the Ponce de Leon Business Association and a former candidate for Coral Gables City Commission, surrendered to police yesterday and was charged with being a fugitive!

He is held on no bond on a warrant from authorities in Hackensack, N.J.

Martin, 55, a financial advisor, has been wanted since 2006 on a forgery charge.

The warrant was issued after Martin allegedly failed to show up a court hearing in New Jersey, said a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney.

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But here’s where it really gets interesting: The warrant came to light while Coral Gables police investigated Martin for allegedly harassing current City Commissioner Ralph Cabrera!

“We are looking into Mr. Martin in a local matter but that investigation is pending, so I can’t discuss it,” said CGPD PIO Dean Wellinghoff. “Mr. Martin was arrested on a warrant from New Jersey.”

Cabrera confirmed that Martin, whom he beat easily for his seat in 2010, is a primary suspect in an investigation in which he is the complainant.

Cabrera said he asked police to look into a pattern of harassment against him that started in 2010, and included emails and old-fashioned letters designed to spread lies about Cabrera.

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“This has been going on for two years,” Cabrera said. “But I tried to ignore it because I didn’t want to waste the police’s time.

“Now, I’m running for mayor, so something had to be done.”

Shady Lady Ranch

One email that was sent to Cabrera and other community leaders showed a convict from the state’s sexual offenders list with Cabrera’s head photo-shopped on it.

Last year, someone sent a letter to Cabrera’s home. The phony missive came from an honest-to-goodness brothel, the Shady Lady Ranch in Beatty, Nevada.

“The letter was basically an application form for a male prostitute and it said I was rejected,” Cabrera said. “And the reasons for my supposed rejection were spelled out in great details. It would’ve been funny if the letter didn’t end up in other people’s mailboxes all over town.”

Restore the City Beautiful

Cabrera said he had not idea who orchestrated the shadowy campaign against him but was told by detectives that Martin is their main suspect.

Martin is likely to remain at the pre-trial detention center until a Dec. 17 hearing.

Martin is listed in state records as the president of the Ponce de Leon Business Association, a chamber of commerce-style group whose mission is the promote Coral Gables businesses.

When he ran for city commissioner, according to his campaign’s website, Martin said he wanted “to restore” Coral Gables’ reputation as the City Beautiful.

He couldn’t be reached for comment and has yet to hire an attorney.

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