Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Pleads Not Guilty to Public Corruption Charge

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono pleaded not guilty to a public corruption charge in federal court Friday. NBC 6's Hank Tester reports. (Published Friday, Oct 18, 2013)

    Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono pleaded not guilty to a public corruption charge in federal court Friday.

    Marono entered the plea to the charge of conspiring to commit honest services fraud during a brief hearing in federal court in Miami, where lobbyist Jorge Forte also entered a plea of not guilty.

    Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono Pleads Not Guilty to Public Corruption Charge

    [MI] Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono Pleads Not Guilty to Public Corruption Charge
    Suspended Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono pleads not guilty to a public corruption charge. Lobbyist Jorge Forte also pleads not guilty. Their attorneys comment. (Published Friday, Oct 18, 2013)

    Marono, who was accompanied by his mother and other supporters, refused comment after the hearing.

    "We just entered a plea of not guilty, it's standard form in this process in the arraignment," said Marono's attorney, Armando Rosquete.

    South Florida Mayors Granted Delay in Indictments

    [MI] South Florida Mayors Granted Delay in Indictments
    Two South Florida mayors arrested on public corruption charges were granted a delay in their indictments Tuesday. Former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono had been scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in federal court, but a judge pushed the arraignments to Sept. 20. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    Marono and Forte, his onetime chief of staff, were initially charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Marono faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

    "From the beginning, we have said that we have placed our trust in the criminal justice system to resolve this matter," said Forte's attorney, David Weinstein. "Jorge Forte deeply regrets his involvement in this case, he will do everything he can to make up for it."

    Sweetwater Mayor Removed as Head of Florida League of Cities

    [MI] Sweetwater Mayor Removed as Head of Florida League of Cities
    Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono has been removed as the head of the Florida League of Cities following bribery allegations, and federal officials are now saying Marono was trying to get other mayors in on the scheme. NBC 6's Willard Shepard has the story. (Published Thursday, Aug 8, 2013)

    The two were arrested in August after an undercover FBI operation revealed they were pocketing thousands of dollars in kickbacks while seeking federal grants, authorities said.

    Sweetwater and Miami Lakes Mayors Bond Out

    [MI] Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi Bond Out
    Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono were arrested by the FBI on public corruption charges Tuesday after they accepted thousands of dollars in bribes in separate schemes, authorities said. Neither man had much to say as he bonded out. FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Steinbach, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, Pizzi's attorney Amanda Maxwell and Marono's attorney Armando Rosquette spoke about the case. (Published Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013)


    Marono was removed as head of the Florida League of Cities following the arrest. He has been released on $250,000 bond.

    According to the Miami Herald, Marono and Forte plan to change the plea to guilty at a later date as part of a plea deal.

    "We are not going to comment on that," Rosquete said Friday, when asked about the plea deal.

    Marono was arrested the same day Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi was arrested on similar charges. Pizzi maintains that he's innocent.

    Pizzi and a second lobbyist arrested in the FBI operation, Richard Candia, are due to appear in court next Friday.

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