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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A former local politician is back in South Florida today after serving two and a half years in prison.
“How y’all doing?” Manny Maroño said warmly to the media gathered for his arrival at Miami International Airport Thursday.
The disgraced ex-Sweetwater mayor arrived in Miami from Alabama, where he served 29 months at Maxwell Prison on federal corruption charges for accepting bribes.
He was greeted to kisses from his mother and a hug from his father, as well as several other family members.
His nephew even made a sign for the occasion.
But Maroño’s children were not there.
“Very happy to be here,” he said. “My number one thing I want to do is talk to my son. It’s his birthday. So I want to wish him a happy birthday.”
His mother, Isolina, who is also a current Sweetwater City commissioner, said she was looking forward to being able to see her son more often.
“He’s okay. He’s positive. And he’s crazy to start again,” she said.
Maroño’s arrest in August 2013 and eventual conviction set off a string of controversies in the small city.
From cover-ups within Sweetwater’s Police Department, to in-fighting amongst commissioners, Sweetwater is now on the brink of a financial emergency.
Maroño rushed out of MIA Thursday, but not before sharing his thoughts on what’s become of the place where he served as mayor for a decade.
“It’s shameful that politics has let the city go to where after all the time and effort that we all spent the city what it is today. It’s shameful that politics has gotten in the way,” he said.
Maroño exited the airport and hopped in a waiting pick-up truck driven by former Sweetwater Police Chief Roberto Fulgueira.
Maroño says he’s not looking to get back into politics anytime soon, but this certainly isn’t the last we’ll hear from him.
“There will be time to speak. I just hope that the media does the same job they did to talk about things that supposedly I did wrong, when I wasn’t here, now that I am here, I hope they give me that opportunity,” he said.
Maroño had just one hour to make it from the airport to a halfway house nearby. It’s unclear how long he’ll have to stay there.