Former police officer Frank Pichel is in legal hot water again after allegedly pulling a gun on someone working for the campaign of his political opponent.
He was arrested over the weekend and is being charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, according to the Miami Herald.
The victim, police say, is a campaign worker for former Miami City Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla, who faces numerous charges of abusing his office for personal gain.
Both men are seeking the District 1 seat on the Miami Commission that Díaz de la Portilla held until Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him last month.
The incident in question occurred Sunday afternoon at or near the Pearl Apartments complex in the city’s Allapattah neighborhood. Police say witnesses saw Pichel pulling a campaign yard sign out of the ground before a Díaz de la Portilla campaign worker confronted him.
An arrest report the Herald reviewed said authorities obtained a video showing Pichel removing a gun from his waistband, racking it to put a bullet in the chamber and holding it at his side. The witness said Pichel threatened in Spanish, “I’ll shoot you and nothing is going to happen to me because I used to be a police officer.”
Police later arrested Pichel at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he’d gone after feeling ill. The report said he refused to speak with officers before being arrested.
He was last taken into police custody on Oct. 1, 2021, when the Monroe Sheriff’s Office
The Monroe Sheriff’s Office arrested him for claiming to be a county Deputy and showing a badge while parked near a house where Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was staying in Key Largo.
He was running against Suarez at the time and ultimately wasn’t charged.
Pichel was suspended from the Miami Police Department in 2000 after being accused of telling a public service aide to falsify a police report to cover for a fellow officer who battered a handcuffed prisoner. The prisoner died a week later in a jail cell. Pichel was never charged.
Eight years later, while working as a sergeant-at-arms at City Hall, he was accused of selling steroids and the erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis. He relinquished his police certification as part of a plea deal that saw prosecutors drop felony charges against him.
In 2018, while on the Miami Code Enforcement Board, Pichel was photographed and recorded on video with Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo outside Ball & Chain, a popular nightclub, bar and restaurant near the city’s Little Havana neighborhood.
The club’s owners this year won $63.5 million in a lawsuit against Carollo, whom a Broward jury determined had violated their First Amendment rights after they supported his political opponent in 2017.
Miami faces a separate, $28 million suit by the plaintiffs.
Pichel previously ran against Díaz de la Portilla, a fellow Republican, in 2019. He lost in the technically nonpartisan contest after securing 5.2% of the vote.
Last month, Díaz de la Portilla was arrested on charges of corruption, bribery, money laundering and criminal conspiracy.
Pichel challenged Suarez in 2021. He placed last, with less than 2% of the vote. Suarez scored nearly 79% of the vote to win a second four year term.
Suarez is now under investigation by the FBI and Florida Ethics Commission for payments he accepted from a real estate developer seeking project approval in the city.
District 1 covers Allapattah, Flagami, Grapeland Heights, the Health District and parts of Little Havana.
Other candidates running for the seat include Miguel Angel Gabela, Mercedes Rodriguez and Marvin Tapia.