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Surfside investigated ex-building official after tower records went missing, emails show

Aaron Leibowitz, Ben Conarck and Sarah Blaskey, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

“They said it’s a mess,” Salzhauer said. “The papers were just not all neat and organized the way you would want them to be.”

Building department records are important for investigators who rely on structural drawings to look for design defects and permits, inspections and other documents that might point to a history of problems.

Salzhauer also questioned why the investigation has not yet been concluded, and why it wasn’t turned over to an outside agency.

“In a small town like this, I think it’s pretty clear that an outside agency needs to conduct investigations” related to town officials, she said.

A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department, which has an open death investigation into the collapse, said they were not investigating whether Prieto may have entered the storage facility that housed the condo records.

“That’s not our investigation. That’s strictly Surfside,” said Miami-Dade Police Lt. Carlos Rosario. “We are not looking into that.”


Rosario confirmed that Surfside police had reached out to the county about the investigation but said the county had no interest in the case or the storage facility.

“People going into a storage facility where they keep records, that’s their investigation,” Rosario said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is not participating in the investigation either, department spokesperson Dana Kelly told the Herald.

After hearing about the collapse on June 24, Surfside officials began a haphazard process of collecting all town records regarding the building’s original construction, renovations and records about recent inspections. Building clerk Rony Jean and part-time chief mechanical inspector Jan Pierre Perez were sent to the storage locker around 11 a.m., according to the police report.


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