Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MVB Exclusive: Miami's Three Amigos of Larceny Land Movie Deal!

MVB has learned that Miami's three amigos of larceny have scored a movie deal with a major Hollywood studio. Tentatively titled "Three Amigos Do Miami," Oscar Rivero, Raul Masvidal, and Reynaldo Diaz will portray themselves in a re-imagined version of the original 1986 movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.

Following is a short synopsis of the "treatment" for the proposed movie given to us by our contact at the studio on the condition that the studio remain anonymous.

The movie appears to be conceived as a series of hilarious flashbacks of the three main characters as they sit in jail in their mariachi costumes while talking to the camera in an attempt to explain their actions. All three, of course, have a different take on their arrests for defrauding the people of Dade County.

Oscar Rivero, who took $3 million from the county to build public housing with nothing to show for it except a 11,000 s.f. mansion he was building for his wife and himself, swears, while holding his sombrero solemnly over his heart, that the mansion was really a "country club for the homeless." What a card.

Raul Masvidal, a one-time pillar of the community and one-time owner of two failed local banks who lost a bid in 1985 to become mayor of Miami, begins his story in jail reminiscing about a better time when he was a watermelon farmer in Puerto Rico. He blames his failure to build Dade County's $3.2 million Housing Agency headquarters on the county's bureaucracy and his jones for watermelons.

"I can't help it," he says in the script, "I got watermelons on the brain. Teacups too."

This is of course a Mad Hatter reference to him buying two monumental sculptures from his boyhood friend and acclaimed artist Julio Larraz at the public's expense. His infamous $287,000 purchase of the painted bronze stacked teacup sculpture officially known as "Space Station," was supposed to grace the grounds of the Housing Agency headquarters he never built. For the last two years it has resided, like other monumental pieces of county public art, in storage. When county auditors found an exact replica by the same artist could be had for $150,000, they started digging deeper and discovered that Masvidal had slipped in the cost of a giant Larraz watermelon sculpture called "Mars" by getting an art dealer to write a fake invoice listing only the stacked teacups.

Further digging by the county revealed that not only did he spend public dollars on art, he siphoned off millions of dollars in public funds to cover a $355,000 payment on a personal home loan and management fees for the unfinished project.

"Maybe if banks had leant me money," Masvidal's character remarks, "things would have been different. Maybe I wouldn't have had to punch out Larraz, that ungrateful putz who calls himself an artist."

A plot twist reveals Larraz had loaned Masvidal a "lot of money" and when Masvidal couldn't come to terms in settling the debt, he started beating up his old friend in frustration. Larraz filed a police report and Masvidal was arrested on battery charges the next day.

The treatment for the screenplay states that there will be a "dream sequence" where Masvidal will do a mincing song and dance number in his back yard around "Mars," exhorting the virtues of "watermelons, teacups, and public dollars."

As for Reynaldo Diaz, he's portrayed as a double-dealing expediter who can tap dance while an "unwashed gang of pistoleros calling themselves the 'Fanny Mae Brothers' fire their weapons at his boots to see him dance for their amusement." It seems Diaz ripped off the Fanny Mae Brothers who loaned him money on land he never owned. When they discover he was in cahoots with Rivero on another financing scam, the movie rapidly devolves into a major shootout with lots of cartoonish death scenes for the Fanny Mae Brothers.

The final scene shows the Three Amigos strumming guitars and singing about the American Dream in Spanish as they walk among thousands of back slapping fans and body groping molesters during the Calle Ocho Festival toward a stunning, fiery sunset.

A note from the publisher: The boys of MVB are split over the depiction of the main characters in this comedy. While we all agree Rivero and Diaz were in it for the money at the public's expense, Masvidal's character is more difficult to dismiss for some of us. We hold a begruding admiration for him because he is a visionary and an art lover. Unlike most developers, this guy put up his own personal fortune to guarantee a $20.5 million construction loan to build Hometown Station, the project that included the Housing H.Q. And, knowing the lethargic pace at which a bureaucracy performs, maybe he's right about Dade County being partially responsible for the failure of the project because of undue delays. Perhaps one of the things learned here is never ever put up your own money when partnering with government. And then there's the behind-the-scenes bureaucrat who never appeared in the script. Rene Rodriguez, the former director of the Housing Agency, now retired, played willy-nilly with the rules including overriding one which stated that loans could only be distributed to developers once construction had started. His ordering the agency to advance more than $5 million to the Three Amigos effectively removed the county's fail-safe protocols which created a no-win situation for all parties. Finally, it's too bad Masvidal tried to slip a $150,000 partially eaten, giant slice of watermelon past us, but we do like his taste in art. We think the teacups and giant fruit are pretty cool and would like to see them rescued from storage and put on display around downtown Miami, perhaps near Government Center where our bureaucrats and politicians can see them and be reminded that you can never get away with ripping off the public because, inevitably, you will get caught. Of course, whether or not you do any jail time remains to be seen. I guess we'll just have to wait to see the movie.

UpDate (9/1/08): Mars, that $150,000 21-foot slice of bronze watermelon by famed artist Julio Larraz, is sold at auction for...$100. Arizona Federal, who loaned money to Masvidal, forced the auction and was the only bidder. We can only hope the fruit's new owner will donate the piece to the county so that it can be placed in the lobby of our Government Center as a reminder to bureaucrats and politicians alike that there is a price to pay for dining at the public trough. Well, financially it might just be a slap on the hand, but your name will long live in ignominy for any appetite for getting rich off the sweat of the common man.

UpDate (5/24/2014): A Miami-Dade judge dismisses fraud and theft charges against Masvidal on the grounds that the statue of limitations had run out and that the disputed money didn't actually belong to the county. The judge agreed with Masvidal's lawyers that the "ownership of the money" was flawed and that "the matter was a civil dispute that did not belong before a criminal court judge." Prosecutors are considering an appeal.

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