Best Criminal Conviction Miami 2014 - Ex-Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño
For a decade, Manny Maroño ruled over the quiet suburb of Sweetwater, an enclave of 14,000 people in western Miami-Dade County previously most notable for being founded by a troupe of circus midgets looking for a tropical retirement locale. Maroño tried to force his way into local headlines with a loud crusade against bath salts and synthetic marijuana, despite the fact that there was scant evidence the stuff was anywhere to be found in his municipality. If it was headlines Maroño craved, though, he finally got them last August. That's when an FBI sting nabbed him taking up to $40,000 in kickbacks for getting bogus grant applications through the city bureaucracy. The Sweetwater mayor wasn't alone — in fact, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi was caught up and arrested in the same sting. Two other Dade mayors, in Homestead and North Miami, have also been arrested this year. What makes Maroño's case sweeter, though, is that his arrest was followed by a swift conviction and a hefty sentence, penalties all too rare in dirty Dade politics. In January, a federal judge nailed the ex-politico with 40 months in the slammer — longer than even prosecutors had recommended — while calling cases like his a "cancer" on South Florida. Honest residents can only hope that Maroño's sentence is one step toward curing the disease.