The FBI has arrested the mayors of two south Florida towns on bribery charges.
According to CBS Miami, Michael Pizzi, the mayor of Miami Lakes, and Manuel Marono, the mayor of Sweetwater, were arrested today by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Two lobbyists were also arrested.
Governor Rick Scott released a statement saying:
“This is disappointing. Public officials must be held to the highest standards. While we wait to see the evidence, the fact remains that elected officials must be held to the highest standard.”
U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer said that Moroño had received about $40,000 in bribes since 2002. He is being held on $250,000 bond. Pizzi, who received about $7000 in bribes, is being held on $50,000 bond.
Ferrer said: “This is a sad day for South Florida, this betrayal of our public trust is intolerable… Our democracy suffers when, as in these cases, elected officials use their power and political influence for personal gain instead of for the public good… Public corruption, at any level of government, corrodes and undermines the public’s confidence in our system of government.”
NBC notes that Marono is currently in his third term as Sweetwater’s mayor. Pizzi is in his second term as the mayor of Miami Lakes.
Naples News reports that the FBI arrested both mayors for their involvement in a kickback scheme in connection with federal grants.
Vice Mayor Jose Diaz will take over for Marono in Sweetwater.
Diaz said: “I am very sorry that this is the way I have to take over his position, but we will do our best and I will put pride and integrity on the city… I don’t think there is anything wrong with the mayor. I don’t think that he’s guilty, but we have to wait.”