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Former Sweetwater Mayor Surrenders To Begin Prison Sentence

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño has turned himself in to begin his prison sentence.

Maroño was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for his part in a kickback scheme and surrendered at the Federal Marshal’s Office in Miami on Tuesday. He was originally given until March 31st to begin his sentence but last week, the judge ordered Maroño to turn himself in no later than noon today.

Last November, Maroño pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Maroño, former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and lobbyists Jorge Forte and Richard Candia were arrested in August 2013 as part of a FBI sting in which he was accused of taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks through a bogus grant scheme.

Read the court documents: USA v Maroño

According to the initial criminal complaints, the two mayors and two lobbyists accepted thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for championing purported federal grant applications for their towns.

However, the men are accused of intending to line their pockets with the grant money — not to bring dollars into municipal coffers, according to FBI affidavits filed with the complaints.

Many of their conversations were recorded by undercover agents and on phone taps.

Those agents reportedly used Candia to approach Maroño and Pizzi, pitching an idea of making easy money by using the fictitious Chicago grant business to tap into an actual government agency.

In a CBS4 and El Nuevo Herald joint investigation, the questionable activities Maroño was involved in during his time as mayor don’t stop with the conspiracy charge.

A letter obtained by CBS4 and El Nuevo Herald confirms Maroño helped his friend and former business partner secure a spot as one of the preferred towing companies in Doral.

Click here for the CBS4 and El Nuevo Herald joint investigation.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)

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