A day after being sworn in for her second term on the Miami city commission, Michelle Spence-Jones has surrendered to police and faces grand theft charges. Prosecutors allege Spence-Jones forged letters, at least one in the name of a former county commissioner, and steered $50,000 in county grants to a family business before she was elected. Some of that money went directly to the pockets of Spence-Jones and her brother, and was used to pay off personal expenses. At the time, she was working as an aide to Mayor Manny Diaz.
According to the Miami Herald, Spence-Jones was surrounded by supporters singing "We Shall Overcome," and she declared her innocence before being arrested.
Yesterday, delivering a racially charged speech at her swearing-in ceremony, Spence-Jones declared the allegation a public lynching.
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"They don't know this nappy-headed child of God has her armor on,'' she told the crowd, to rapturous applause.
The arrest also comes a day after news that Commissioner Angel Gonzalez would resign amid charges he illegally secured a no-show job for his daughter.
The news leaves the commission practically empty. Only veteran Marc Sarnoff and newly elected Frank Carollo are left. A runoff between Francis Suarez and Manolo Reyes is set for Tuesday, but the winner would not be sworn in for five days.