Arthur E. Teele Jr. shot himself in the head Wednesday after asking a security guard if he could deliver a message to columnist Jim DeFede, a longtime acquaintance, the Herald reported Thursday.
"Tell my wife that I love her," the guard said Teele told him.
Teele died about two hours later at a hospital.
"What a tragedy it is for his family, for the community," City Commissioner Johnny Winton said. "It's unbelievable. He was a fighter and I respected that part of him."
Teele and an electrical contractor were indicted July 14 on federal charges of lying to get more than $20 million in contracts at Miami International Airport that were supposed to go to minority-owned businesses. He had pleaded not guilty.
Teele, who is black, was also convicted in March in state court of threatening a police officer as part of an unrelated corruption investigation. Documents had been filed Tuesday seeking to revoke his probation and send him to jail.
On Wednesday, The Miami New Times, an alternative weekly newspaper, published a report online entitled "Tales of Teele: Sleaze Stories" that detailed the former commissioner's alleged contacts with drug dealers, crooked contractors and prostitutes, including a male transvestite. The story was largely based on police reports.
DeFede said he spoke with Teele several times Wednesday, the Herald reported.