FBI arrests mayors in Florida sting operation
FBI arrests mayors of Stillwater and Miami Lakes on bribery charges. The FBI arrests of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel "Manny" Marono took place on Tuesday.
Miami — The FBI has arrested two South Florida mayors on bribery-related charges.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel "Manny" Marono were taken into custody Tuesday at their offices.
Pizzi is in his second term. According to federal prosecutors, Pizzi and lobbyist Richard F. Candia were involved in a kickback and bribery scheme over federal grants for both Miami Lakes and Medley. Pizzi is an attorney for Medley,
The Miami Herald reports that Pizzi went into politics because, "I had this terrible notion that I wasn’t giving anything back to the community,” he told the Miami Herald in 1998.
He has served as an elected official for the town [of Miami Lakes] ever since, never losing an election (He earns $18,000 a year as mayor, plus a $600-a-month car allowance).
During his tenure, he has been investigated at least twice by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust, although the complaints — that he meddled in a bid process and that he failed to properly register as a lobbyist — didn’t stick.
Marono became mayor in 2003 and played a role in Gov. Rick Scott's transition team in 2011. An indictment claims Marono and lobbyist Jorge L. Forte were involved in a separate kickback and bribery scheme over federal grants for Sweetwater.
Both complaints charge the defendants with conspiracy to commit extortion.
Scott ordered both mayors to be suspended from office.