Miami Mayor Accused of Hitting Wife

ByAlex Veiga

M I A M I, Feb. 8, 2001 -- Mayor Joe Carollo spent the night in jail despitehis wife's efforts to convince authorities that her husband didn'twish to hurt her when he hit her in the head with a tea canister.

Maria Ledon Carollo, 42, told police her husband struck her inthe head with a terra-cotta canister Wednesday. Carollo, 45, wascharged with simple battery.

Carollo spent the night at the North Dade Detention Center in a6-by-6-foot windowless cell, said Janelle Hall, a Miami-Dade CountyCorrections spokeswoman.

He was expected to be released today after a bond hearing.

Carollo was arrested after a girl identified by police as one ofhis daughters made a frantic 911 call, saying, "Come help! My dadis hurting my mom."

According to the arrest report, officers who went to the homefound Mrs. Carollo with a golf ball-sized lump on her left temple.The mayor had two scratches behind his left ear.

Mrs. Carollo wanted to press charges against her husband butlater changed her mind, said police Lt. Bill Schwartz. Policedecided to file charges anyway.

No Preferential Treatment

Lawyers for Carollo and his wife had asked a family court judgefor an emergency bond hearing so the mayor would not have to spendthe night in jail.

Mrs. Carollo issued a statement through her lawyer, saying,"Under no circumstances did my husband intend to harm or injureme."

But Judge Mark King Leban refused the request.

"I see no reason to treat Mr. Carollo differently than anyoneelse," he said.

"Mayor Carollo has been singled out for much more serioustreatment because of who he is," Ben Kuehne, Carollo's attorney,said afterward.

The jailing violated a pre-arrest agreement with police andprosecutors that the mayor would charged, given the emergencyhearing and released without spending the night in jail, Kuehnesaid. He said authorities backed out of the agreement because theywere "scared" of looking like they were giving the mayor specialtreatment.

After Arrest, Business as Usual

Carollo faces up to a year in jail if convicted but likely won'tsee jail time because he has no prior record, said Ed Griffith, astate attorney's office spokesman.

"It's strictly a personal matter and it's business as usualhere," mayoral spokesman Jay Rhodes said.

Three months ago, the mayor's wife announced she was seeking adivorce after 15 years of marriage. In court papers, her attorneysaid there was "no hope for a meaningful reconciliation."

The couple's daughters, Caroline and Kelley, were ages 12 and 10at the time of the divorce filing.

Carollo, who has been called "Crazy Joe" by newspapercolumnists for his confrontational style with opponents, was firstelected mayor in 1996 to fill a one-year vacancy.

He was defeated in 1997, but a judge reinstated him in 1998after throwing out absentee ballots tainted by fraud.

Carollo has said he will not run for re-election in November.

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