North Miami Beach mayor charged with voter fraud
Mayor Anthony DeFillipo, a real estate agent and property manager who allegedly lived outside city limits, has been at the center of separate ethics complaint
North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo, a real estate agent and property manager, was charged with three counts of voter fraud this week.
DeFillipo, a former commissioner who was elected mayor in 2018, was arrested on Wednesday morning. An investigation by the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez found that DeFillipo voted three times in August, October and November of last year using a North Miami Beach address where he no longer lived, according to the state attorney’s affidavit. He and his wife sold that property in December 2021.
Cellphone records show that between midnight and 8 a.m. from December 2021 and June 2022, DeFillipo’s phone was near one of his Davie properties. Between June and August, it pinged a North Miami Beach cell tower during those hours. And between August and December, it pinged a cell tower near his family home in Davie overnight, according to the affidavit. He and his wife paid about $1.2 million for the Davie house in July 2022, property records show.
In addition to allegedly committing voter fraud, DeFillipo also allegedly violated city charter, which requires elected officials in North Miami Beach to live in the city. His arrest comes about six months after a complaint was filed against him with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust. Since then, three city commissions have refused to attend commission meetings because of the residency concern.
The state attorney’s investigation, prepared by Robert Fielder, found that at DeFillipo’s instruction, North Miami Beach City Clerk Andrise Bernard emailed the city’s human resources department in December 2021 to have DeFillipo’s address changed to apartment 406 at 3601 Northeast 170th Street in North Miami Beach, a unit he had purchased in 2004. This contradicted DeFillipo’s claim that he was living at his mother’s address in North Miami Beach. On top of that, his tenant at that address testified last month that he lived there from November 2021 to December of last year, providing a lease and stating that DeFillipo did not live there also or visit him during his lease.
DeFillipo and his attorney, Michael Pizzi, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As mayor, DeFillipo has voted on real estate projects, including Dezer Development’s controversial plan to redevelop the Intracoastal Mall property into a $1.5 billion mixed-use project. DeFillipo was a key vote in favor of the development agreement and zoning amendments in 2021, even after suggesting to residents in the Eastern Shores neighborhood that he was skeptical of the developer’s traffic mitigation plans and that he’d ultimately vote against final approval of the project, one lawsuit challenging the approval alleged.
DeFillipo has been a real estate agent since 2004. He hangs his license with the London Real Estate Company, according to state records. He also holds a community association manager license dating back to 2009. DeFillipo has been a property manager at Vida at the Point in Aventura since 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has abstained from voting on at least one real estate project planned on a property he had previously been involved in.
North Miami Beach and other South Florida cities have seen their fair share of elected officials charged with crimes or allegations of misconduct — in many cases, real estate developers have been involved.
In 2018, former North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo resigned after pleading guilty to using campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses. His wife also secretly worked for the Dezer family while he voted on issues that involved their properties. Vallejo is president of Allied Florida Group, a brokerage that specializes in Eastern Shores, according to social media.
More recently, former Plantation Mayor Vera-Lynn Stoner is facing charges that she illegally tried to help Invesca Development Group secure a loan for a project in the city by falsely claiming that the Invesca LLC had fixed code violations. Stoner turned herself in to authorities this week, and will plead not guilty at her arraignment, according to her attorney.
In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez’s consulting job with developer Rishi Kapoor’s Location Ventures is at the center of a county ethics investigation. Kapoor’s company allegedly paid the mayor at least $170,000 over the past two years to help secure permits and cut through red tape for a project that Kapoor’s firm plans in Coconut Grove, the Miami Herald reported. Spokespeople for Suarez and Kapoor have said that the consulting gig is unrelated to any Location Ventures matters at the city.