An El Portal city commissioner was arrested Thursday on allegations that he embezzled money from a law firm for stays in hotels and rides all over town, including to a Hialeah sex-toy shop called the Caliente Adult Superstore.
Law enforcement arrested Harold Mathis Jr. on over 60 felony counts, including grand theft, organized scheme to defraud, forgery and petty theft.
The allegations don’t relate to his position as an El Portal commissioner, but for his work as a paralegal for the Miami criminal defense firm Ratzan & Faccidomo.
“We thought of him like part of the firm’s family,” said the firm’s partner, defense attorney Jude Faccidomo. “We just hope he knows a really really good criminal defense lawyer.”
Mathis is believed to have stolen at least $50,000 using the firm’s credit card. He’d been a paralegal for the firm for more than six years.
Earlier this year, the firm said it discovered he’d been forging checks, doctoring credit-card statements and using the company’s account for stays at local hotels and Lyft rides around town. The investigation was spearheaded by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office public-corruption task force.
Mathis became a councilman in 2006. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former mayor Audrey Edmonson resigned to accept a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. He served until 2012, taking a two-year break before winning election in 2014.