Aug 31, 2022 - News

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez arrested in corruption probe

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez
Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez. Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez was arrested Tuesday over accusations he accepted $15,000 in exchange for creating legislation to benefit local property owners.

Driving the news: Martinez, who was booked into jail and released on bond, faces felony charges of unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation.

Between the lines: Martinez is accused of receiving payments in 2016 and 2017 in exchange for drafting a law to help West Miami-Dade property owners facing code violations, according to an arrest warrant obtained by multiple media outlets.

  • The legislation was drafted in 2017 but Martinez never put it up for a vote, according to the warrant.
  • Martinez told investigators the payments were for a loan and money owed to him, per the warrant. He later told investigators the payments were from a private business deal.

Plus: Martinez is also accused of using his official position to help secure a bank loan for the company where he worked, Centurion Security, according to the warrant.

What they're saying: Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who announced the charges at a news conference Tuesday, said the allegations erode public trust in government.

  • "Those government officials who use their position and staff for private purposes always undermine the confidence of voters and taxpayers," she said. "This can make people, at best, apathetic or, at worst, cynical about the government that serves them."

The other side: In a statement Monday, Martinez's attorneys called the allegations "false" and questioned whether the investigation was politically motivated.

  • As he walked out of jail Tuesday, Martinez told reporters: "One day when I have a chance to talk to you, I'll talk to all of you. Right now, I'm just going to go and just deal with it," according to a video taken by the Miami Herald's Doug Hanks.

What we're watching: Martinez has pledged to fight the charges. He faces a possible suspension from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Martinez is accused of accepting payments in exchange for drafting a law to help property owners in West Miami-Dade (not Little Havana).

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