Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo testified Monday in federal court in the lawsuit brought against him by two Little Havana businessmen for alleged abuse of power and harassment.

The commissioner was called as a witness in the case brought by two plaintiffs, who are businessmen in the community, who allegedly did not support Joe Carollo when he was first elected as commissioner.

When he was due to testify last Tuesday, Carollo’s attorney told the judge he would not appear because he was ill. The trial, which was not scheduled for Thursday or Friday, restarted on Monday with the interrogation of the commissioner.

The plaintiffs’ lead attorney named Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo as an opposing witness and at 9:40 a.m. began his lengthy cross-examination.

Jeff Grudges questioned him mainly about the testimony of other witnesses. One of the questions was whether it was true that Carollo forced her former receptionist to falsely accuse her assistant Steve Miro of sexual harassment after he fired her. To which the commissioner replied in the negative, saying “no, it was wrong”.

He also asked her if it was true that she addressed Rosa Romero, owner of the Sanguich cafeteria, with a very derogatory phrase when leaving a meeting with the commissioner, which she also denied.

After three plaintiffs’ witnesses told the jury that the commissioner said he didn’t like the mural because there were too many Afro-Cuban figures and he didn’t want people to think that Little Havana was a black neighborhood. Attorney Grudges showed her the mural located at 8th and 15th Streets in Little Havana, on property owned by Bill Fuller, and asked her about the mural, which annoyed Carollo.

The commissioner said these were lies orchestrated by the attorney and that he should be ashamed, prompting Grudges to retaliate, eventually prompting the intervention of federal judge Rodney Smith, who halted the exchange.

Alain García, owner of the Ball and Chain restaurant’s valet parking service, testified that Carollo told him that he could not continue working as he did because “he was the law”.

Carollo also denied saying this, eventually leading the attorney to counter that he was going to count the number of witnesses that Carollo claimed to have lied to under oath.

Before the verbal exchange, Carollo replied that yes, “that the witnesses had lied and that the lawyer too”. To which Attorney Grudges replied, “Mr. Carollo, I haven’t lied to anyone in this courtroom.”

This again prompted the judge to remind commissioner Joe Carollo that he should only answer questions and not comments.

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