Husband of Sunny Isles Commissioner cited wife’s position after alleged hit-and-run accident

car accident wreck
The Commissioner is running for Mayor.

Sunny Isles Beach Commissioner Dana Goldman was in the passenger seat when her husband, Michael Gates, allegedly backed his 2021 Genesis into a parked car at Bal Harbour shops. He then left the scene, police said.

When confronted by law enforcement, Gates repeatedly invoked Goldman’s name and elected position, according to a police report first flagged by Miami Herald reporter Aaron Leibowitz.

Goldman, a Nov. 2 candidate for Sunny Isles Mayor who has served on the City Commission seven years, told the Herald her husband “acted inappropriately” during the June 27 incident but maintained “this is my husband’s legal problem, not mine.”

She said she was not paying attention while on the passenger side of the vehicle and declined to say if she heard Gates mention to police that she is a Sunny Isles Commissioner.

Gates, she said, is “a hothead who sometimes says intemperate things at inappropriate times.”

Bal Harbour police said Gates told them of his wife’s elected office after being told that it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident where damage has occurred.

Gates “continued to be very defensive and tell me that I was accusing him of being a criminal and that his wife is the Commissioner of Sunny Isles,” Officer William Myers wrote.

Gates explained to the Herald he wasn’t seeking leverage by telling police of his wife’s position. He was just highlighting her job to show that he and Goldman are good, law-abiding people who wouldn’t leave the scene of an accident on purpose, he said.

The police report said Gates backed his car into the side of a parked Audi SUV while attempting to park in the shopping mall’s valet lot. After he hit the car, a valet worker told him he couldn’t park in the lot. So, he parked elsewhere. The couple then went to dinner.

Police, who had reviewed surveillance footage, were waiting for Gates and Goldman when they returned to their vehicle. Gates suggested he’d hit several objects that weren’t a car — a pole, curb and traffic cone, none of which were nearby, police said.

The damage to the Audi amounted to roughly $300, according to the vehicle’s owner, David Steinberg, who told the Herald that Gates offered to pay him on the spot. Steinberg said no.

“I said, ‘I’d rather you (face) justice than I get a few hundred dollars,’” Steinberg said.

Steinberg said he was taken aback that Gates would mention his wife’s elected position.

“I care about you not getting away with it because of who your wife is,” he said.

Sunny Isles Beach Commissioner Dana Goldman was in the passenger seat when her husband, Michael Gates, allegedly backed into a parked car before leaving the scene. She has declined to say whether she heard him invoke her position when talking about the accident with police. (Image via DanaGoldman.net)

While Gates’ actions could have constituted a misdemeanor, police gave him a criminal traffic citation. Bal Harbour Police Chief Raleigh Flowers told the Herald that Goldman being the Commissioner of a nearby city did not factor in decision.

On Oct. 6, Gates entered a plea of not guilty in traffic court.

A real estate lawyer at Miami law firm Schutts & Bowden, Goldman filled a vacancy on the Commission in 2014 and has since been elected three times. She is one of four candidates vying to replace former Mayor George “Bud” Scholl, who resigned in August to focus on leading blood bank OneBlood.

The other candidates are lease broker David Grossman, who unsuccessfully ran for the Sunny Isles Beach Commission in 2018; entrepreneur Jerry Joseph, a nine-year Sunny Isles resident; and current Mayor Larisa Svechin, previously the city’s vice mayor, who took over the role Sept. 1.

Goldman and Svechin’s relationship recently has been frayed at best, with Goldman charging that a Svhechin campaign ad asking voters to “Re-elect Mayor Lisa Svechin” was misleading and violated ethics rules. The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust ruled this month that Svhechin’s use of “re-elect” wasn’t a violation.

The ethics commission also dismissed a complaint against Goldman accusing her of using endorsements from a prior political race for her current campaign.

In May, the city agreed to release text messages Goldman sent about Svechin in which she called the then-Vice Mayor “devious” and “very jealous of me.” Goldman also alleged residents making public comments supporting Svhecin were “plants.”

Miami Circuit Judge Carlos Lopez ruled Goldman’s texts should be public. However, the city said it would fight having to release texts Goldman sent her husband in court.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.



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