On January 16, 2017, Village Councilwoman Ivonne Ledesma sent an email to Village Attorney Richard Sarafan about the calls she had been receiving from residents over their claims that Steven Zelkowitz was no longer living in Miami Shores.
The highlighted representations made by Sarafan carry special weight because he is an Officer Of The Court, and in that capacity is held to a higher standard when repeating claims made to him - in this case Steven Zelkowitz's alleged claims - and also because as the Village Attorney, this "legal opinion" was made in support of a member of the Village Council to another member of the Village Council, both of whom were Sarafan's employers.
As the Village Attorney, Sarafan's principle responsibility is to provide legal advice and guidance to the Council, in in this case he clearly made untrue representations to one Council member to support another Council member.
If anyone knows not to lie to your lawyer, it's another lawyer.
In addition, several weeks ago I established that Mr. Zelkowitz is an unethical, and corrupt elected official when I revealed that he and his law firm were identified as having agreed to be paid "consultants" to the company RMA who was bidding on a project in Palm Beach County before he voted to award RMA a contract to produce a financial feasibility report for the Village of Miami Shores for a payment of $22,400.
Mr. Sarafan, on the other hand, if we were to take his actions at face value, appears to have been willing to accept the representations made to him by Mr. Zelkowitz without the least amount of research - either by him, or by any of the other attorneys in his firm who were involved in the research that led to his January 24th letter - to establish by independent means whether Mr, Zelkowitz was telling the truth.
How simple would it have been to conduct such research? It would have taken a couple mouse clicks, then typing in Mr. Zelkowitz's name in the Clerk of Court's search engine, and scrolling down the list of documents filed in the divorce case until they discovered that there had been a Settlement Agreement filed on August 19th.
What we have here is a situation where it appears that one lawyer lied to another lawyer, and then that lawyer, whether out of collegial courtesy, or just laziness, didn't bother to verify whether he was being told the truth, before repeating what he was told in a "legal opinion" intended to provide cover for the first lawyer to illegally remain in office as a member of the Village Council.
The big question however, and the one that a growing number of Miami Shores residents would like an answer to, is why would Steven Zelkowitz do all of the things he's done in an effort to keep a measly $1 dollar a year, part-time position on the Village Council?
What's so important about being a $1 a year Village Councilman in Miami Shores?
What does he want, or what was he after, that he would risk the embarrassment and possibly a Bar Complaint - which is what I'm going to file against him - to hold on to his Council seat when, as you can see, it takes so little effort to establish that he really didn't qualify as a Village resident after August of 2016?
As for Mr. Sarafan, his actions demonstrate once again his willingness to engage in political games and to provide bogus legal advice, in this case providing cover for Zelkowitz to illegally maintain his seat on the Village Council.
As part of my inquiry into this issue, I sent him the following public records request:
For his trouble I'm also going to file a Bar Complaint against Mr. Sarafan, because one way or another the continued abuse of power by the little clique at Village Hall has got to be put to an end.
He responded by sending me the emails from Councilwoman Ledesma and the legal opinions that he staff collected and that used in his own "legal opinion." (You can read them HERE.)
What he did not do was the following:
On January 24th, Sarafan responded to Ledesma's inquiry by providing her a "legal opinion" he had drafted that supported Zelkowitz contention that he could continue to serve on the Council because he had an "intent" to move back to Miami Shores.
The relevant portions of the "opinion," as it relates to being bogus and self-serving are on page 3. (The complete "legal opinion can be read HERE.)
All things have to start somewhere, and it would seem that the steps that led to Miami Shores Village Councilman Steven Zelkowitz illegally living outside the Village for 9 months started very early on the morning of April 19, 2016, when at "approximately 4:00 AM, while sleeping in the maid's room, he was awoken by his wife."
We can speculate why he was sleeping in the maid's room, but this description provides the kind of opening sentence that a good mystery should have: An suspected errant husband, and an aggrieved wife.
As the story continues, the husband wakes up when he hears his wife frisking his suit, and he asks her what she's doing. She responds that she's frisking his suit because he came home late.
He tells her to take the suit and frisk it elsewhere so he can go back to sleep, whereupon he claims she begins to question him further about his late night activities, and words are exchanged.
During the heated exchange, she allegedly balls up his pants, with his belt still in the loops, and throws it at him, thitting in the head with the belt buckle and telling him she wants him to leave the house.
He refuses. She threatens to call the cops, and when he still continues to refuse to leave, she storms out telling him she's going to call her her father.
Eight days later Allison Zelkowitz filed for divorce against Steven, and put into play the steps that would lead him to leave his martial home, and move away from Miami Shores, thereby setting into play the steps that would disqualify him from being a Village Councilman in Miami Shores.
This whole drama only became know because on June 14th, 56 days after the aforementioned incident, Steven Zelkowitz showed up at the Miami Shores Police Department to file a complaint against Allison, alleging that when she threw his pants at him - with the belt still in the loops - she committed assault and simple battery. (All of this including the further allegation that he believed that she switched out his shampoo with the hair removal Nair can be read in the police report HERE.)
So, as in any good mystery, the first thing we can establish, even if we didn't previously know it, is that Steven was a lawyer, because who else but a lawyer would show up 56 days after an incident to file a complaint in order to create some sort of legal record to possibly use as a weapon against his wife other than a lawyer.
The second thing we learn is that Steven is a BIG PUSSY, again, because who else but a BIG PUSSY would show up to file a complaint 56 days after as incident, alleging assalt and battery because his wife threw his pants at him and hit him in the head with the belt buckle.
And so it began. Steven moved out, and allegedly moved into a condo on Brickell Avenue - close to his office - where at some point he allegedly had the new love of his life move in with him while the divorce proceedings made its way through the court system
On August 19, 2016, Steven and Allison appeared before the judge handling their case and agreed to a settlement that included a division of property. As in most cases where there are small children, Allison got the house. (The complete settlement can be read HERE.)