State Watch

Official who signed off on Surfside building in 2018 placed on leave at new job

A building official who signed off on the condition of the Florida condo structure that collapsed last week has been placed on leave from his current position at a government contractor.

The Miami Herald reported that Rosendo Prieto has been placed on leave from his position at CAP Government Inc., which provides building department services to government clients. Prieto was formerly a Surfside, Fla., building official when the Champlain Towers South building’s 40-year inspection was conducted.

Prieto had been a building official in Surfside for seven years before leaving that position in 2020, the Herald reported.

“On June 28, 2021, C.A.P. Government, Inc. notified the City of Doral that Mr. Prieto was on a leave of absence and assigned another employee to assist the City of Doral Building Department on a temporary basis,” Maggie Santos, a spokeswoman for Doral, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for CAP also confirmed Prieto’s leave of absence to the newspaper, though they did not say whether it was voluntary.

As the Herald reported, Prieto attended a condo association meeting in 2018 one month after an engineering firm warned that there was “major structural damage” in the building. According to minutes of the meeting obtained by the Herald, Prieto told the condo board that he believed the building was in good shape.

Prieto previously worked for Miami Shores and Miami Beach.

So far, 11 people have been confirmed dead in the Champlain Towers South collapse, and around 150 people remain missing.

An April letter obtained by USA Today revealed that the condo association president had acknowledged that damage in the building’s garage had “gotten significantly worse” and was “accelerating.” 

“When performing any concrete restoration work, it is impossible to know the extent of the damage to the underlying rebar until the concrete is opened up,” Jean Wodnicki wrote to residents. “Oftentimes the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspection of the surface.”

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel to Florida this week, likely arriving on Thursday.

“They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone who has been working tirelessly around the clock and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones, to offer them comfort as search and rescue efforts continue,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

Tags Doral Jen Psaki Jill Biden Joe Biden Miami Herald Surfside building collapse Surfside, Florida

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