Miami Mayor Accused of Hitting Wife

M I A M I, Feb. 8, 2001 -- Mayor Joe Carollo spent the night in jail despite his wife's efforts to convince authorities that her husband didn't wish to hurt her when he hit her in the head with a tea canister.

Maria Ledon Carollo, 42, told police her husband struck her in the head with a terra-cotta canister Wednesday. Carollo, 45, was charged with simple battery.

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

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

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

According to the arrest report, officers who went to the home found 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 but later changed her mind, said police Lt. Bill Schwartz. Police decided to file charges anyway.

No Preferential Treatment

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

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

But Judge Mark King Leban refused the request.

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

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

The jailing violated a pre-arrest agreement with police and prosecutors that the mayor would charged, given the emergency hearing and released without spending the night in jail, Kuehne said. He said authorities backed out of the agreement because they were "scared" of looking like they were giving the mayor special treatment.

After Arrest, Business as Usual

Carollo faces up to a year in jail if convicted but likely won't see jail time because he has no prior record, said Ed Griffith, a state attorney's office spokesman.

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

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

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

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

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

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