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Police Promotions, Demotions & Resignations Taking Place In Sweetwater

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City of Sweetwater sign.  (Source: CBS4)

City of Sweetwater sign. (Source: CBS4)

South Florida Crime

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) — Shakeups are happening at the Sweetwater Police Department amid an FBI investigation.

According to CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald, Mayor José M. Diaz announced the promotions, demotions and resignations Thursday in a press release and gave no specific reasons for the moves.

He also did not mention the controversy happening in the city after FBI agents arrested Mayor Manuel Maroño on bribery charges.

Gov. Rick Scott has suspended Maroño.

The changes come about a month after the FBI arrested detective William Garcia on charges of using fake credit cards and stealing other people’s card numbers and weeks after two more officers — Detective Octavio Oliu and Acting Sgt. Reny Garcia — were relieved of duty with pay for alleged misconduct.

In addition, civilian employee and police auxiliary member Richard Brenner was suspended with pay.

Earlier this month, the Miami Herald reported that the disciplinary actions against Oliu, Reny Garcia and Brenner were a result of a widening FBI investigation. Brenner has since returned to work.

“I’ve been working on this decision for several weeks, day and night, and came to the conclusion that this will improve agency efficiency,” Diaz said in a prepared statement.

Among the moves announced Thursday:

- Major Roberto Ochoa and Captain Jesus “Jessie” Menocal were promoted to deputy chief of police in charge of administration and operations, respectively. Menocal was police chief from the 1990s until 2003, when former mayor Manny Maroño demoted him amid a police brutality scandal where he was accused of witnessing fellow officers beat an 18-year-old resident.

- Jorge Oliveros was reassigned from police administration to code enforcement. Oliveros plead guilty in 2000 to stealing cocaine from undercover agents while he was an officer for Miami-Dade County. He served seven years in federal prison.

- Two officers, Jorge Fernandez and Ignacio Menocal — twin brother of Jessie — were reinstated to their previous ranks of lieutenant.

- Officer Rolando Perez was promoted to lieutenant in charge of internal affairs.

- Sergeant-At-Arms Manny Saavedra will be assigned to work uniform patrol, due to his seniority, in accordance with the bargaining agreement with the police union.

The changes do not come with salary increase, according to the release.

Changes happened after the announcements too.

Lt. Richard Pichardo resigned, telling Police Chief Roberto Fulgueira he would be looking for a job elsewhere. Pichard previously worked with Miami-Dade Police before resigning in 2009 amid domestic abuse charges.

Another employee, Antero Espinosa, who is married to former Manny Maroño’s aunt, resigned from his position as director of the maintenance department. He had worked for the city since 1996.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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