MIAMI (CBS4) – The FBI is investigating several officers in the City of Sweetwater, the police chief confirmed Monday night.
Chief Roberto Fulgueira said he has spoken with FBI agents and has turned over dozens of pages of documents as part of the investigation.
His comments made after a city commission meeting were his first public remarks since a detective was arrested and two other officers were relieved of duty with pay. A civilian employee has also been disciplined.
“I’m the chief of police everything that’s good reflects on me, and everything that’s bad reflects at me,” Roberto Fulgueira told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana. “There’s disappointment of course, because we’ve had several officers that are under investigation and an officer has been arrested. You know, this happens everywhere. It just so happens it’s us now.”
Th FBI arrested Detective William Garcia on accusations of credit card fraud and identity theft last month.
Prosecutors allege he used bogus credit cards at several South Florida establishments.
“I’ve been here 30 plus years and I’ve been chief almost 10 and this is the first incident we have of this nature,” Fulgueira said.
Just days after Garcia’s arrest, two cops and a civilian employee were relieved of duty with pay.
Detective Octavio Oliu and acting Sgt. Reny Garcia are under investigation, but the chief declined to say why.
The same goes for red light camera monitor Richard Brenner.
A city spokeswoman said the suspensions are not related to the arrest of William Garcia.
Fulgueira said the recent scandals are not indicative of the department as a whole.
“We’re a strong agency,” Fulgeira said. “We’re a lot like a family here and we’ll go back to what we were.”
The police department drama comes on the heels of the arrest of former Mayor Manuel “Manny” Maroño on bribery charges after prosecutors said he was caught up in an FBI sting.
Maroño was suspended and Jose M. Diaz took over as Mayor.
“We are not going to tolerate any corruption in the city of Sweetwater,” Diaz said emphatically at the press conference.
He stress his confidence in Chief Fulgueira and the police force.
“I’ve told them, as the Mayor has told them, ‘Keep your head up. Do your job. Do the right thing and you’ll be fine’.”
A new city commissioner was supposed to be appointed Monday to fill the seat left vacant when Diaz took over as Mayor.
The commission decided it needs more time to consider the potential candidates.
Sweetwater resident and one-time commission candidate Deborah Centeno expressed her desire for an election to be held to fill the vacancy, rather that have the position be appointed as city charter requires.
She accused the commission of “malfeasance”.
Commission Chairman Jose Bergouignan in turn accused her of defamation in a feisty exchange.