Only in Florida: Palm Bay City Council Election Marred by Cocaine, Murder, and Bribery

Only in Florida: Palm Bay City Council Election Marred by Cocaine, Murder, and Bribery

Former councilman Peter Filiberto will run against a convicted murderer for city council despite his own cocaine possession charge

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
May 31, 2024

PALM BAY, FL—Palm Bay City Council member Peter Filiberto resigned from his post last year after he was arrested for a DUI and carrying 10 grams of cocaine in his shoe. Now he wants his job back.

His opponent? A convicted murderer.

"What happened to me a little over a year ago was a sad thing, there's no doubt about it," Filiberto told The Floridian, before taking a shot at a 2019 Palm Bay bribery scandal that resulted in three city employees being charged and another resigning under pressure.

"What makes me want to run again is although my arrest by Palm Bay PD was a sad day for residents of Palm Bay and me, I still am a two-term councilman who's never been named in an FBI or bribery investigation," he said, flaunting his record against the scandalized former city members.

"I have support from the residents, and I think that that trust mainly comes in from I haven't been in any FBI reports," he added.

Councilman Filiberto was arrested on February 12, 2023, after an officer observed his reckless driving on a motorcycle. He refused a field sobriety test and was later found to have 10 grams of cocaine stuffed in his sock.

He was charged with reckless driving, driving without a motorcycle endorsement, a DUI, cocaine possession, and refusing a field sobriety test. The only charge he was found guilty of was a DUI.

The Palm Bay Council promptly wrote to Governor Ron DeSantis, asking him to suspend the Seat 5 councilman. A day later, on February 17th, Filiberto resigned.

However, on May 30th of this year, he announced that he was ready to return to the City Council, but not for his old seat. Why? Because that seat is up for grabs in a special election, which would only guarantee its occupant a two-year term, and "I want to lock into a four-year term," he said.

Instead, he will face down four other candidates for the Seat 3 race.

"This is a man who has had his chance as a councilman and destroyed the trust that our community put in him when he was arrested for possession of cocaine and other charges," one of his opponents, Massachusetts native Michael Bruyette, told FOX 35 Orlando.

In an odd twist, Bruyette was convicted of second-degree murder in 1986 and spent 30 years in prison for beating resident Lisa Grimshaw's husband to death with a baseball bat because she told Bruyette that her husband abused her.

She reportedly told Bruyette she would give him some of her husband's $300,000 life insurance policy if he murdered him. After he was dead, Bruyette took his wallet and left his body by a nearby river, and later that night, slept with Grimshaw.

While out on parole in 2011, he was arrested on charges of battery and assault for telling a victim "I'm going to kill you," while punching a wall. Though he was later acquitted, he had violated his parole and went back to prison in Massachusetts until 2014.

He won't, however, let his past get in the way of his political future.

“It’s certainly an opportunity to show people that I have changed, but it’s not the reason why (I’m running). I am passionate about this. I love this city,” he told News 6.

The primary is slated for August 20th, and the general election is on November 5th.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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