In the latest development since Palm Bay City Councilman Pete Filiberto was arrested for DUI and felony drugs charges for crack cocaine, Representative Fine instructs him to dig in.
With increasing calls for Filiberto to resign, Fine has told him to not make a statement, and to not resign. With the number of angry citizens who are likely to show up to tomorrow’s council meeting, Fine also advised him not to show up in order to minimize the remarks or put him in a position to have to respond.
Because of the charges he faces, Florida law allows for the Governor to suspend him from office as the prosecution goes forward. A conviction would result in an automatic removal from office. However, the suspension is up to the Governor’s discretion.
Fine has assured Filiberto that he can convince Governor DeSantis to not suspend him from office so that he can remain on the council for as long as the charges are still pending. This prevents the council from being able to appoint someone to fill the position in his place.
The citizens of Palm Bay just voted the last election overwhelmingly to allow the council to do just that, by amending the city charter.
The strategy may work. Filiberto hasn’t made a comment since his arrest, and Fine will not discuss it at all. Just a day before the arrest, Fine was calling for the removal of Councilman Johnson, because police were called near his residence over a disturbance in which someone reported that a gun was seen.
According to police and Johnson, he was not even home when the altercation occurred at the street in front of his home. Johnson has no criminal record at all, yet Fine has called for his removal almost monthly since in office. When it comes to other previous council who have admitted to taking, drugs, money, and prostitution, he has been silent. Just as he is now that the man he endorsed and supported is facing serious charges.
What also stands out to residents is that for someone who has been arrested as many times as Filiberto has, there is not a mug shot of him on file. Not even for this most recent arrest. No explanation was given as to why he is being treated differently than anyone else who has been arrested.
As of now, Filiberto does not have an attorney on record with the court for this case, and no hearing has been set since his initial hearing. He’s currently out on bond.