HOMESTEAD – Former City Manager Mohammad Aref “Mike” Shehadeh professed his love for his married deputy in a series of passionate text message exchanges between the two.
“I have a problem! I can not [sic] entertain another woman in my mind besides you,” Shehadeh wrote in a Sept. 22, 2009 text to then-Deputy City Manager Johanna Faddis, one of hundreds that he sent to her. “I’m deeply in love with you girl. I’m getting deeper and deeper into it!”
A South Florida Times investigation has uncovered logs that appear to show also that Shehadeh spent time on his city computer on sultry websites such as Goddessqetesh.com, a dominatrix site.
“This is a pornographic site in my eyes,” Vice Mayor Judy Waldman said.
Homestead city council members have called a special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11 to address the new evidence. Some council members say the newly discovered material supports their Feb. 3 decision to fire Shehadeh.
The new information came to light on Friday, Feb. 5, just two days after council members voted 6 to 1 on Feb. 3 to fire Shehadeh from his $179,431-a-year job. Commissioners left open the possibility of a $100,000 settlement, if an agreement was reached on a severance package.
“I just don’t think he deserves any payments,” Waldman said. “There is more than enough evidence to fire him and not pay him anything. He should not have done this on city time.”
Councilman Jimmie L. Williams III agreed.
“I’m not sure of the format, but I can tell you that when they introduce this new evidence at the meeting, there will be an outpouring of public disgust,” Williams said. “The evidence definitely exists, but I won’t elaborate because it will all come out at the meeting.”
He continued: “I would hope that he would gracefully bow out now, so we can end this without litigation. The evidence speaks for itself and at this point I am not in favor of giving him a dime of taxpayers’ money.”
Shehadeh could not be reached for comment, but his attorney said he just became aware of the new issues.
“I just heard about it (the special meeting) about an hour ago. I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with my client, Mr. Shehadeh, and our private investigator is still gathering information, so I don’t have a comment on it at this time,” Shehadeh’s attorney, Alfonso J. Perez, Jr. said on Tuesday afternoon.
“But I would love to see what new evidence they supposedly have,’’ Perez said. “First of all, let me tell you this. They don’t have the Blackberry, or the laptop, because they are both sitting right here on my desk. Now they may have gotten information from a bill or some other source, but it didn’t come from his Blackberry or laptop.”
Perez continued: “Second of all, I don’t know about any websites and certainly don’t have any information about any relationship with Mrs. Faddis. I met her, and she is a very nice person.”
Perez also said he has not received any of those records, which include thousands of emails, text messages and call logs from more than a dozen employees and elected officials. He said he has been told they were “published around city hall.”
“If this has happened, it is not fair to all of those people, and a gross invasion of privacy,” he said.
While some of the text messages exchanged between Shehadeh and Faddis detail what appears to be a romance between the two, other messages detail arguments they had. Still others contain more detailed plans for lunch.
“I can never imagine that I will ever love anyone like I love you. I was looking at you when you left and felt so much nostalgia,” Shehadeh stated in a text message from his city-issued Blackberry to Faddis on Sept. 9, 2009. “Te quaro (sic) mucho mi Corazon [I love you a lot, my dear.]”
Shehadeh did not attend the Feb. 3 meeting, and did not turn in any city materials that night, after council members voted to terminate his contract, which runs through December 2011.
Since then, Homestead police have been unsuccessful in their attempts to meet with Shehadeh at his home to recover his city-issued Blackberry and laptop computer.
The emails and text messages city officials have obtained were not taken directly from Shehadeh’s Blackberry or laptop devices, but were captured with a software program the city uses to log all incoming and outgoing calls from Blackberries and other smart phones. The program also stores emails and text messages that are sent or received by all users of the devices, including those of elected officials.
Faddis could not be reached for comment.
Her attorney, Neal Flaxman of Miami, did not respond to messages at his office or emails seeking comment.
At the Feb. 3 meeting, Councilman Jon Burgess expressed a desire not to settle or pay Shehadeh a severance.
Shehadeh was on the job for more than 15 years, working his way up to deputy city manager, and eventually to city manager in 2008.
He was officially terminated due to conduct unbecoming a city manager, but the specific allegations are much broader.
A review that the city contracted to Franklin Investigations, Inc. of North Miami Beach determined that Shehadeh engaged in political activities for some council members, was rude to residents, and may have violated city policies.
Five of the seven incumbent council members were up for reelection in 2009, four of whom were Shehadeh supporters. After the Nov. 3 election, all four council members who supported Shehadeh were defeated.
Shehadeh and Faddis were both placed on administrative leave with pay after the new council members were sworn in to their offices.
Faddis was fired in December, but Shehadeh’s contract did not allow for his termination until 90 days after the election, which set up the Feb. 3 termination meeting.
“This has gone on too long, and it’s time for us to move on, because the taxpayers deserve it,” Williams said. “This can only get worse, not better, because there are over 8,000 texts we have to go through, and who knows what we will find?”
The South Florida Times review also found some records of communication between council members.
There are also instances of certain employees using racial slurs, and more.
“We have to get this information before the residents,” Williams said. “No matter where it goes, because they have every right to know.”
Pictures: Former Homestead City Manager Mike Shehadeh, at top, and former Deputy City Manager Johanna Faddis, below.