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Ex-Miami Mayor Wants Old Job Back

February 10, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ Former Mayor Joe Carollo’s lawyer asked a judge on Monday to throw out absentee ballots from the Nov. 4 mayoral election because of ``rampant fraud″ and declare Carollo the winner.

Carollo came just 155 votes shy of a majority in the Nov. 4 general election, forcing him into a runoff with current Mayor Xavier Suarez. Carollo sued, then was beaten in a Nov. 13 runoff. Suarez forced the runoff in part on the strength of absentee votes, 63 percent of which went his way.

``There is rampant evidence that fraud, abuse and illegality have been going on,″ Carollo’s attorney, Kendall Coffey, said in opening statements of Carollo’s lawsuit. ``The voting probe has been corrupted.″

Coffey said he would present evidence of hundreds of questionable absentee ballots to prove that the will of Miami voters who cast machine ballots was subverted. He planned to enter as evidence the results of a grand jury probe that found widespread fraud and an investigative report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

``Democracy will prevail,″ Carollo said as he entered the courtroom.

Carollo, 42, one of Miami’s most outspoken politicians, said he kept quiet for the last three months to avoid interfering with the new administration.

During his opening statement, Coffey argued that simply throwing out the election results was insufficient because Suarez would have the advantage of being an incumbent in a new election.

Suarez, 48, a Harvard-educated lawyer, was mayor from 1985 until 1993 and then reclaimed his old job, winning the election in November. His lawyer, Joseph Portuondo, suggested there was little evidence of widespread fraud.

The non-jury trial could last more than a week. The judge could uphold, reverse or throw out the election.

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