(Left) Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi (Source: miamilakes-fl.gov) and (Right) Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño (Source: http://www.cityofsweetwater.fl.gov)
MIAMI -- The FBI has arrested two Southern Florida mayors and two lobbyists in separate corruption investigations.
Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño along with two lobbyists, Jorge Forte and Richard Candia, were charged for allegedly participating in a kickback and bribery scheme with federal grants for the city, according to the FBI.
The mayor of Miami Lakes and town attorney for Medley, Michael A. Pizzi, along with Candia face the same charges for both Miami Lakes and Medley.
The FBI said their investigation began around June 2011. At that time Candia dealt with an FBI confidential source and two undercover agents who posed as owners of a grant administration business.
The undercover agents told Candia that if he worked with corrupt local public officials they could receive federal grant money that they could keep and distribute among themselves.
The FBI said Maroño and Forte received $40,000 and Candia received at least $5,000 in kickbacks from the Sweetwater deal. Maroño and Forte additionally received $20,000 for introducing the scheme to other public officials.
Pizzi initially agreed to participate in exchange for $750 campaign contributions. He additionally received a total of $6,000 in kickbacks for the scheme in Miami Lakes and Pizzi, according to the FBI.
If the men are convicted, they could face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 20 years in prison.