Alberto Garcia, once a powerful lobbyist at Minneapolis City Hall, died unexpectedly Saturday night while celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary, according to his friend and attorney, Peter Wold.
Garcia, 56, of Eden Prairie, was known throughout the city for a career of spectacular highs and lows. After years of practicing law, he was disbarred by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2010 after he was caught in a 2009 drug bust that landed him in federal prison.
Wold said that while the cause of death is unknown, “Al had been dealing with a heart condition. That’s all I can say.”
Garcia’s family posted an announcement on Facebook saying that Garcia and his wife, Sheila, were in Las Vegas when he died.
Garcia had resumed his work as a lobbyist after getting out of prison in 2011, and was said to be looking forward to regaining his law license.
Former Minneapolis City Council member Gary Schiff, in a Facebook posting Sunday, wrote: “This Southsider is mighty sad today about the death of Alberto Garcia. … He was a fixture, a giant-hearted fighter for north Minneapolis.”
Garcia was widely known at Minneapolis City Hall as a power broker in the 1990s who helped high-profile politicians, such as Jackie Cherryhomes and Lisa McDonald, win elections.
He also worked as a lobbyist for a wide swath of clients, from the owners of the Metrodome to towing companies, labor unions, Target Center and topless dance clubs. An attorney once said, “Everyone who follows Minneapolis politics knows Al Garcia.”
In 2009, Garcia was arrested with a former legal assistant on methamphetamine charges and eventually pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2010 but was released on probation a year later.
In 2010, he was disbarred for misconduct, including misappropriation of client funds, lying and coercing false testimony from a client, according to the Supreme Court order.
Garcia ran into trouble again in 2013, when he was charged with violating the conditions of his probation by acting as an attorney for a client.
Even so, Garcia described himself on his LinkedIn page as a “successful business consultant” and CEO of Garcia and Associates.
Schiff said he hoped that “no one gets evaluated just by the headlines they generate,” adding that Garcia “was always fighting for the underdog.”
“I hope lots of kids growing up in Minneapolis today are able to match Al’s longevity in civic engagement,” Schiff wrote on his Facebook post. “Our city is better off for it.”