Alex Díaz de la Portilla’s criminal defense team includes a Miami-Dade Commissioner

Alex Diaz de la Portilla AP
The pair previously served together on the Miami City Commission.

Former Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla’s legal team, which is working to defend him against corruption charges, includes a former City Hall coworker of his: Miami-Dade Commissioner Keon Hardemon.

Hardemon, a lawyer elected to the County Commission in 2020, previously served on the Miami City Commission alongside Díaz de la Portilla.

According to the Miami Herald, which first reported on the arrangement, he’s been working for months with Díaz de la Portilla’s defense team.

Benedict Kuehne, Díaz de la Portilla’s lead attorney, confirmed to the Herald that Hardemon joined the team soon after police arrested the former Commissioner and an alleged accomplice in September.

In October 2023, Díaz de la Portilla’s political committee, Proven Leadership for Miami-Dade County PC, paid Hardemon’s law firm $25,000 for “legal fees.” The PC misspelled Hardemon’s name as “Keon Hardeman.” It also paid $15,000 in December to Kuehne’s firm, Kuehne Davis Law, and marked it for “legal fees” as well.

Kuehne told the Herald that Hardemon “will assist the legal team in demonstrating the charges against Alex are political and fabricated.”

Díaz de la Portilla faces felony charges of money laundering, unlawful compensation, bribery, criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and misdemeanor charges of excessive campaign contributions and failure to report a gift.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) accuses Díaz de la Portilla and lobbyist William Riley Jr. of taking part in an alleged scheme to launder $245,000 in “concealed political donations.” The agency says the former Commissioner accepted in exchange for supporting a sports complex development in the city.

Their arrests followed an investigation by the FDLE, Broward State Attorney’s Office and Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.

Gov. Ron DeSantis assigned the investigation to the Broward State Attorney’s Office late last year after Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle asked to be relieved of it to avoid “any possible conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety,” Broward SAO spokesperson Paula McMahon said by email.

Assistant State Attorneys Catherine Maus and Janine Rice are handling the case, which is in the Miami-Dade courts system.

DeSantis suspended Díaz de la Portilla on Sept. 15, one day after his arrest. That didn’t preclude him from running to win back his seat in November — a bid he lost after a runoff and unsuccessful attempts to disqualify his opponent, Miguel Gabela, who now serves in the City Commission’s District 1 seat.

Díaz de la Portilla pleaded not guilty in October.

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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