April 15, 2024
Florida prosecutors filed corruption charges Tuesday against a Miami-Dade County commissioner who surrendered himself to authorities earlier in the day in response to an arrest warrant.

Florida prosecutors filed corruption charges Tuesday against a Miami-Dade County commissioner who surrendered himself to authorities earlier in the day in response to an arrest warrant.

Joe Martinez, 64, who has been mulling a run for sheriff, is accused of accepting $15,000 from a store owner in exchange for backing legislation to benefit the business owner and his landlord. Martinez is facing one count of unlawful compensation and one count of a conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation. Each charge carries up to five years behind bars.

MIAMI PROPOSAL FOR HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT ON ISLAND CAUSES STIR

“Under Florida law, these acts, even if they were solicitations rather than transactions, constitute the felony of unlawful compensation,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said during a press conference Tuesday. “Government officials who use their position and stature for private purposes always undermines the confidence of voters and taxpayers.”

Jorge Negrin, who owns Extra Supermarket, and his landlord Sergio Delgado were facing a bevy of fines for stationing too many storage units on their property. Martinez unsuccessfully fought for legislation to ease restrictions on the storage unit, prosecutors said.

Commissioner-Corruption Charges
This photo provided by Miami-Dade County shows Joe Martinez. Martinez, who has served on the County Commission off and on since 2000, is charged with unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation, according to an arrest warrant. Both are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each. Martinez, 64, surrendered at a county jail Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, and has already pledged to fight the charges. (Miami-Dade County via AP)

Rundle cited a slew of communications between Negrin, Martinez, and Delgado when she outlined the case against the county commissioner. Martinez accepted three payments of $5,000 between late 2016 and early 2017, according to Rundle.

“Martinez and his staff reportedly led Delgado to believe that new container legislation was forthcoming and that it would benefit directly Delgado’s property and his tenants while also relieving Delgado of the existing fines and fees,” she said during a press conference Tuesday.

When questioned by the Miami-Dade County Inspector General’s Office, Martinez denied knowing who Delgado was and “did not recall the reason” why he received the payments, Rundle added. He failed to disclose the payments as a gift. An anonymous complaint sparked the inquiry, and COVID-19 delayed prosecution, authorities said.

Martinez held a seat on the county commission between 2000 and 2012 and then from 2016 to the present, according to Florida Politics. During the hiatus, he unsuccessfully vied for mayor and then for Congress. A former police lieutenant who served in the police force for 17 years, Martinez was eyeing a bid for Miami-Dade sheriff in 2024, the Associated Press reported.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Rundle denied that Martinez’s political prospects affected the decision to charge him. Ben Kuehne, a lawyer for Martinez, argued that prosecutors harbored political motivations when bringing the charges against him.

“For now, Commissioner Martinez makes clear that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and intends to aggressively work to clear his name,” Kuehne said, per the Associated Press.

Leave a Reply