A Hialeah restaurant owner is accused of trying to bribe Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz after authorities say he gave Diaz's aide an envelope full of cash.
Eleazar Gadea, 47, was arrested Wednesday on a bribery charge, Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office officials said. He was being held on $7,500 bond and it was unknown if he's hired an attorney.
Officials said Gadea, the owner of Rancho Okeechobee, believed the county was trying to shut down the restaurant through improper enforcement of zoning violations and code enforcement issues.
On March 4, he went to Diaz's office and gave the commissioner's assistant a sealed envelope with $700 in cash inside and a letter, officials said.
"Dear Mr. Pepe Diaz: I just want to say thank you very much for your time, help and support and understand Sir, that you have a friend in Rancho Okeechobee," the letter said, according to officials.
Diaz told his staff to call police, and undercover officers contacted Gadea, who explained that he wanted to hold an event until 4 a.m. instead of the 1 a.m. shut down time, officials said.
Gadea gave the undercover officer an envelope containing $2,000 and said if the event couldn't occur, he would need the money back, officials said. Gadea also said he wanted the problematic county inspector removed from his area, officials said.
"No one should ever believe that our government can be bought and sold," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Attempting to corrupt our officials to avoid code and law enforcement requirements is always bad for a business and bad for our community. No one in law enforcement can ever tolerate it."
Diaz released the following statement after the arrest:
"In regards to this matter, I do not want to hinder this investigation but my office and I did our duty and notified the proper authorities. I value the community's trust and it's shameful that anyone will attempt to violate such trust. I applaud the Miami-Dade Police Department and the State Attorney's Office for their joint investigation."