Ex-Sweetwater Police Commander Says He Was Fired for Investigating Mayor

The small municipality of Sweetwater has been no stranger to big controversy. Its last mayor was whacked by the FBI for taking a $40,000 bribe, and rumors soon swirled afterward that the feds were stacking up cases against other city departments for crooked behavior.

Now one ex-police commander is taking aim at the town's current mayor, Jose Diaz. The former officer has filed a civil lawsuit claiming he was fired for looking into code violations at Diaz's house.

The new accusations, Courthouse News reports, come from former police commander Mario Miranda.

Miranda was fired in October 2013. At the time, a police spokesman told CBS4 he was dismissed after problems were discovered on his job application.

"The background investigation revealed that he failed to disclose material facts concerning his past businesses, licenses, bank accounts, and other facts about his past," Capt. Jorge Fernandez deLara told the station.

According to CBS4, Miranda was also under investigation along with other officers for allegedly keeping a "secret" evidence room.

But the ex-commander now says in court that his firing was pure retaliation. Miranda says that a month before he was fired, he began looking into an anonymous complaint about code violations at a property, only realizing after the fact that it belonged to Mayor Diaz. (Miranda's attorney, Howard Brodsky, hasn't responded to Riptide's request for comment.)

When Miranda confronted Diaz, the mayor told him to "mind his own business," Courthouse News reports, and then initiated his firing when the commander refused to back down.

Neither Diaz nor his chief of staff has responded to Riptide's request for comment on Miranda's allegations.

Sweetwater's attorneys filed a motion last week to dismiss the case.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink