Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla and 1519 Southwest 19th Street in Miami (Getty, Google Maps)
Next week, Alex Diaz de la Portilla gets another shot to reclaim his Miami City Commission seat in a runoff against auto parts dealer Miguel Angel Gabela. But the embattled politico ran out of chances to keep the Diaz de la Portilla family home in Miami’s Shenandoah neighborhood.
On Wednesday morning, the five-bedroom house where Diaz de la Portilla and his two brothers grew up was sold for $300,100 at a Miami-Dade County foreclosure auction. Wells Fargo, which in 2019 won a $628,545 final foreclosure judgment against Diaz de la Portilla and his ex-wife Claudia Davant, acquired the property.
The sale caps a foreclosure saga that began more than a decade ago when Wells Fargo sued Diaz de la Portilla and Davant for allegedly not making mortgage payments since 2012, court records show. In 1974, Diaz de la Portilla’s parents, who still reside in the home, purchased the residence for $54,000, records show. They sold it to their son for $92,000 in 2001.
Diaz de la Portilla intends on “buying it back,” he said in a text message. “It’s a typical real estate transaction like any other,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “The attorneys are negotiating it.”
The house has an assessed value of $525,895, court records show. But Diaz de la Portilla claimed the property has a market value of $862,000 in his 2022 statement of financial interests, the most recent available.
On Nov. 7, he placed first in the District 1 City Commission race, but Diaz de la Portilla was forced into a runoff because he failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. Diaz de la Portilla can still win re-election despite facing multiple felony charges — including bribery and official misconduct — stemming from a public corruption probe against him.
In September, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Diaz de la Portilla from office shortly after his arrest by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Diaz de la Portilla, who was elected to the city commission in 2019, has pleaded not guilty.
An arrest affidavit alleges Diaz de la Portilla accepted illegal payments and illegal campaign contributions from William Riley Jr., a land use attorney and lobbyist for David and Leila Centner, a Miami Beach power couple who founded Centner Academy. Riley was also arrested and slapped with similar charges as Diaz de la Portilla.
The Centners, who denied any wrongdoing, are witnesses in the case against Diaz de la Portilla and Riley. They allegedly funneled illegal contributions to Diaz de la Portilla’s PACs through a shell company. In exchange for the contributions, Diaz de la Portilla allegedly orchestrated the city of Miami approving a no-bid deal giving the Centners partial exclusive use of a city-owned park to build a $10 million recreational center, the affidavit states.
Diaz de la Portilla and his siblings, Renier and Miguel, built one of Miami’s powerhouse political dynasties. All three of them served in the Florida Legislature, while Renier and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla also held county elected offices.