El Portal mayor’s messy divorce, qualifying inquiries threaten time period

New El Portal Mayor Omarr Nickerson, remaining, and former El Portal Interim Attorney Norman Powell

By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org

El Portal’s newly elected mayor Omarr Nickerson gained his race handily right after none of the smaller village’s 2,400 citizens ran towards him. But his term could be shorter-lived amid accusations by El Portal officers that Nickerson submitted phony, incomplete and inaccurate details in his qualifying paperwork.

Nickerson, who’s been an El Portal council member for more than a decade, knowingly submitted a suspended driver’s license as proof of his village residency, has a various mailing address in Cutler Bay the place he gets critical court docket paperwork and unsuccessful to disclose any primary and secondary sources of income on his money disclosure assertion, in accordance to a Sept. 28 lawful feeling composed by then interim village legal professional Norman Powell.

Nickerson’s driver’s license was suspended on Feb. 2, seven months right before the qualifying day, for failing to fork out child aid.

“My business has been given requests from citizens of the Village of El Portal to deliver a penned lawful feeling about no matter if Omarr C. Nickerson lawfully qualified as a prospect,” Powell wrote. “For the causes established forth additional totally herein, it is my authorized impression that Mr. Nickerson failed to legally qualify as a candidate…because of an evident violation of Florida regulation in connection with the submission of his qualifying papers.”

But Nickerson explained to Florida Bulldog that Powell’s legal viewpoint was a retaliatory transfer since he joined council associates Anders Urbom and Luis Pirela in a sequence of votes that terminated Powell’s interim deal with the village. On Sept. 22, the trio voted to employ State Rep. Joe Geller’s regulation business, Greenspoon Marder, as its permanent village attorney.

“This is a vindictive thing by Powell,” Nickerson stated. “After we decided not to have him as the long lasting attorney, he was upset about that and he started out heading via my paperwork. He did so just so he could put my individual company out there. It was a individual assault.”

El Portal picks

For the duration of two unique conferences in October, the village council reconvened and voted to throw out the aggressive procedure for a long term village attorney, but however changed Powell with Geller’s agency on an interim basis. Nickerson, Urbom and Pirela voted for Greenspoon Marder, but the prior mayor, Claudia Cubillos, and then-Councilwoman Vimari Roman did not.

Powell’s run as El Portal’s interim village legal professional finished Oct. 19. He declined to comment.

Vimari Roman, a previous El Portal councilwoman

Nickerson and previous El Portal Councilwoman Vimari Roman verified to Florida Bulldog that Powell’s impression along with supporting court documents have been forwarded to the Miami-Dade Fee on Ethics and Community Trust and the general public corruption device of the Miami-Dade Condition Attorney’s Office to investigate. Florida Bulldog also acquired an Oct. 16 email from Powell to Assistant Condition Attorney Johnette Hardiman in which he states, “Attached is the memorandum we reviewed alongside with the files referenced therein.”

Spokespersons for the ethics fee and the state attorney’s business office mentioned they could not affirm or deny that an investigation into Nickerson has been opened.

Messy divorce, suspended license

Nickerson has been engulfed in individual turmoil due to the fact his relationship fell aside three yrs back. On Nov. 6, 2017 he was arrested for allegedly attacking his then-spouse Barbara Gasaly. He was criminally billed with misdemeanor battery.

According to news stories of the incident, the estranged pair obtained into an argument in excess of Nickerson accusing her of cheating on him. He told cops that she ran in excess of his remaining ankle when he tried to halt her from leaving the home with their two young ones. Gasaly knowledgeable the officers that he experienced grabbed her about the neck and pushed her to the ground producing slight scratches. Pics taken of Gasaly shortly soon after the incident clearly show gashes throughout the facet of her neck.

“Divorces can be unpleasant and messy,” Nickerson instructed Florida Bulldog. “I have usually been respectful towards her even nevertheless I caught her dishonest. I have accomplished practically nothing improper and I hope the ideal for her.”

State Rep. and El Portal interim village legal professional Joe Geller

Four times just after Nickerson’s arrest, Gasaly filed her petition for divorce and won a non permanent restraining purchase barring Nickerson from coming within 100 toes of her and ordering him to surrender guns he owned. Gasaly and her divorce attorney, Hugo Acebo, did not react to requests for comment.

Nickerson initially retained Geller’s law agency to symbolize him in his divorce proceedings when Geller was nearing he end of his 17-yr reign as El Portal’s village legal professional. On Nov. 29, 2017, marital and relatives regulation legal professional and Greenspoon Marder associate Michael Alman filed a notice of overall look on Nickerson’s behalf. Two months later, even so,  Alman and Greenspoon Marder withdrew as Nickerson’s illustration in the divorce with the councilman’s consent. On Jan. 17, 2018, Nickerson was arrested a second time for felony aggravated stalking of Gasaly.

On March 5, 2018 the village council, such as Nickerson, voted 4- to hearth Geller in excess of grievances he was far too fast paced being a condition legislator to correctly do his job as village legal professional. The council changed Geller with Powell. Nickerson did not comment to Florida Bulldog as to why, through the 2017 and 2020 council meetings relating to the village lawyer matters, he did not disclose that he was briefly represented by Greenspoon Marder. But Geller advised Florida Bulldog there was very little untoward about the arrangement.

“It was not a extended representation,” Geller said. “I do not necessarily see that as a conflict.”

Divorce finalized

In July 2018, Nickerson’s divorce was finalized. According to the closing judgment, Nickerson was essential to show up at reunification remedy with his kids and get a psychological evaluation. Gasaly was awarded comprehensive custody, and any visits with his small children ended up to be supervised. The judge also granted an indefinite restraining buy. “The court finds that the spouse is a target of domestic violence and maintains a fair panic of imminent bodily hurt,” the remaining judgment states.

Three months afterwards, on Oct. 16, Nickerson pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor cost and been given probation on the condition he finish a batterers’ intervention cure system. He completed his probation on Jan. 1, 2019. Afterwards that month, a jury located him not responsible on the aggravated stalking cost.

Article divorce, Nickerson is continue to holding a grudge from his ex-spouse. On Dec. 31, 2019, Nickerson filed a handwritten motion requesting that his driver’s license not be suspended simply because he had not paid kid support. He alleged that Gasaly outlined a job he was fired from as a final result of her “having him falsely arrested for a felony that I was identified not guilty for.”

“She has deceived the court docket [about] the amount of money of little one assist that need to be gathered,” he wrote. “I humbly ask the courtroom to implement a new regular kid support sum based mostly on my current payment scale. I would humbly check with that the court not suspend my driver’s license as the little one guidance details has been incorrect by the petitioner, Ms. Gasaly.”

The court docket docket demonstrates that no hearing or choice was ever rendered on the movement.

On the other hand, Nickerson did not connect any files showing what his present-day profits is. He also requested a paternity exam “as equally paternities have generally been in concern.” His driver’s license was suspended and his ask for for a listening to is still pending, in accordance to a driver’s license examine and courtroom records.

Nickerson said he did not know his driver’s license was suspended till he study Powell’s Sept. 28 lawful feeling. “When I requested for the listening to, it continue to wasn’t suspended,” Nickerson claimed. “I didn’t know they would go ahead and suspend it. Secondly, in order to run, you have to be a resident of the village and a experienced voter, which I nonetheless am. There is practically nothing that states I have to be ready to push.”

Geller weighs in

In a phone interview, Geller mentioned Powell’s belief is rife with irregularities, noting the doc really should not be enforced. “The time for hard [Nickerson’s] qualifications is past,” Geller claimed. “And the village attorney has no purpose in deciding the bonafides of the qualification paperwork. It is not his jurisdiction.”

Geller took more than as interim village attorney on Oct. 20. The other discrepancies Powell cited this sort of as Nickerson’s Cutler Bay deal with and his blank economic disclosure statement are not enough to disqualify El Portal’s following mayor from working, Geller extra. “What is improper about providing a family members member’s address to acquire critical court papers?” Geller claimed. “He didn’t listing a supply of cash flow for the reason that he does not have any. There is no requirement that you have to be a present wage earner.”

Juan Carlos Planas, an lawyer specializing in election regulation, agreed with Geller. “It’s not a thing that is less than a village attorney’s purview,” Planas reported. “Once a prospect qualifies, that’s it. A village lawyer simply cannot make that determination.”

Juan Carlos Planas

Planas also mentioned that Powell’s view appears to mistakenly declare that knowingly applying a suspended driver’s license as proof of residency is the similar as becoming pulled in excess of even though knowingly driving with a suspended driver’s license, which is a legal offense. “It is not a disqualifier at all,” Planas claimed. “For a municipal lawyer to make that variety of judgment call is incorrect.”

However, Vimari Roman, who has not sought reelection to the village council, reported Powell’s impression was the consequence of residents’ problems about Nickerson soon after he skilled on Aug. 18. Two weeks previously, in the course of a Zoom conference with citizens, Nickerson, Pirela and Urbom said they planned to run for their current seats, Roman stated.

“I know of just one specific resident who signed the petition so Nickerson could qualify and thought the petition was for him to run as a council person,” Roman said. “The resident was amazed that he ended up qualifying for the mayor’s seat. Given that it is a extremely little village, issues about it commenced going close to. I by no means talked over it with [Powell] however.”

An additional resident, Amy Mehu, reached out to Powell the day immediately after he wrote his view asking about Nickerson’s skills. Mehu’s Sept. 29 e-mail to Powell, which was acquired by Florida Bulldog, states “When you have a instant, could you offer clarity on residency needs for elections in the village?” Mehu, who did not answer to Florida Bulldog requests for comment, explained that she came across various listings in a Google research demonstrating Nickerson’s deal with is outside the village.

“As you are informed, we have 2 vacancies and no one particular who opposed Mr. Nickerson,” Mehu wrote.  “I’m an advocate for a vibrant and aggressive election system and would like to make sure it can happen anytime feasible.”

As she reverts to life as an ordinary villager, Roman claimed, Powell’s findings involved her: “That’s why I forwarded the opinion to the ethics commission.”

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