Ranking Miami-Dade's Most Corrupt Cities
Illustration by Alvero Diaz-Rubio

Ranking Miami-Dade's Most Corrupt Cities

Sonny and Rico. Gloria and Emilio. LeBron and Dwyane. South Florida has had some iconic pairs over the years, but none tops our OG local couple: Dade County and corruption. Everyone knows our swampy metropolis is the kind of place where business is done via cash-stuffed envelopes swapped in bathroom stalls, and cops and drug lords are often one and the same.

But Dade County is also a collection of 34 incorporated cities, each with its own particular brand of scummy officials and scammy businesses. Which can claim the cocaine-dusted crown as the capital of graft in South Florida?

Here's our definitive ranking of Miami-Dade's most corrupt cities.

1. Opa-locka: Opa-locka is so crooked its own residents tried to wipe it off the map. Last August, a few local activists were so tired of fighting graft that they actually started a petition to dissolve the town. "Once you're tapped out, you're tapped out," said Willis Howard, one of the locals who mounted the charge. "The city revenues are tapped out, there's no leadership, and in this case, you can't even file bankruptcy to restructure your assets, because there's nothing for you to restructure."

How did the Moorish-themed town get here? Here's the tl;dr version: a federal graft probe starting as early as 2013; a city government that decided not to keep any real spending records; officials who thought taxpayer money could be spent on lavish birthday parties and huge holiday bonuses; elected officials convicted of using their employees to extort local businesses; a city commissioner who killed himself while facing bribery charges; and a morning FBI raid on city hall in 2016. Merrett Stierheim, the former county manager brought in to "clean up" the place, quit in March 2017 and said it was the "worst case" he'd seen in his long career. He said he left with "more questions than answers" about how the city became such a miserable failure.

Well, there's one obvious answer: Put the entire Opa-locka government directly in the trash can.

2. North Miami Beach: North Miami Beach is a town where all the politicians hate one another and there's always the risk that any lawmaker, at any time, could get busted by the feds. In 2016, then-Mayor George Vallejo posted a hostage-style Twitter video in which he announced he was facing a public-corruption probe. Then, in October 2017, former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner was arrested on securities fraud charges. Then the city sold off its water plant, a once-thriving utility that serves 200,000 people, even though the FBI had briefly looked into the deal. In April 2018, Vallejo took his own plea deal after admitting he bankrolled his personal life with campaign funds. Oh yeah, and during the mayor's investigation, he casually admitted his wife was getting paid off by the Dezer family, the most powerful developers in town. Is your head spinning yet? Just imagine living in NMB.

3. North Bay Village: Until 1941, North Bay Village lay at the murky bottom of Biscayne Bay. But then the two small islands along the 79th Street Causeway were dredged up from the muck. Ever since, the town has been a cesspool of graft, drugs, and mobsters. In the '60s, Frank Sinatra hung out at the Place for Steak until a guy named "Big Tony" walked in and put a bullet through the head of Thomas "the Enforcer" Altamura. In the early '80s, the feds warned that a made man named "Joe Scootch" was running a giant Quaalude ring in town, and a few years later, the village's police force got in on the action. In '86, three local cops pleaded guilty after offering to protect drug shipments for an undercover FBI agent. Last year, a commissioner revealed he was being blackmailed over an old cocaine charge, and investigators looked at the mayor and her allies as suspects. They were cleared, but not before cleaning out the police force. Now the former chief has sued, claiming he was axed for blowing the whistle on corruption, while the mayor claims the chief let a bunch of cops get drunk on duty during a hurricane. Is it too late to send this village back to the bottom of the bay?

4. City of Miami: Trying to sum up decades of insidious corruption in Miami in a paragraph is like trying to write the CliffsNotes for Ulysses. In the Magic City, crime is so baked into public office that more than 100 cops — including 20 sent to prison — were investigated and reprimanded for their role in a badge-wearing drug gang in the late '80s River Cops scandal. Miami's so crooked that in 1997, one commissioner was arrested for demanding $200,000 in bribes — and within a year, his replacement was federally charged with mortgage fraud. Two other commissioners were indicted at once in 2009, and in 2013 the feds had to step in to monitor the police department because it was killing so many unarmed men. Did we mention Miami's city commission gleefully helped pass the Marlins Park debacle? Someone get James Joyce on the line to do this city's corruption history justice.

Ranking Miami-Dade's Most Corrupt Cities
Illustration by Alvero Diaz-Rubio

5. Miami Beach: Last year, Miami Beach proudly released an internal ethics study that showed only 22 percent of city employees had been offered a bribe on the job. That was big progress! Five years earlier, that number was 27 percent. Such is life in South Beach, where crooked cash flows from billion-dollar hotel projects straight into city hall.

The graft doesn't end there. In 2010, a New Times investigation revealed that Miami Beach cops were getting paid as much as $225,000 per year while facing a whole slew of misconduct lawsuits. In 2012 alone, the Miami Herald reported that seven fire inspectors and code-compliance officers were caught taking bribes from one Ocean Drive nightclub, and an ex-procurement director was charged with rigging public bids. Just this year, the city's former top building official, Mariano Fernandez, was arrested and charged with doling out illegal city favors in exchange for free nights at luxury hotels.

Then there's last year's absurdist saga of then-Commissioner Michael Grieco, who seemed destined for political stardom before the Herald absolutely clowned him. Grieco eventually pleaded no-contest to charges that he accepted illegal campaign money from a noncitizen via money funneled through an illegal "straw donor." Before the charges came down, he stared at Herald reporters and asked them to "look right into my soul." But the "soul" of Miami Beach is corrupt to the core.

6. Hialeah: Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez once got caught loan-sharking. He also got caught in 2015 publicly lying about loaning cash to a convicted Ponzi-scheming jeweler — and responded by paying his $4,000 ethics fine in 145 boxes of pennies and nickels. Then there was the time he disappeared for a week and claimed he was in Las Vegas, but no one in the city could explain where he actually went.

Truth is, Hialeah has always been a mini-banana republic operating on U.S. soil. Back in 1991, then-Mayor Raul Martinez was convicted on extortion and racketeering charges after he got caught taking $1 million in cash from land developers (though he never served any time after the case was tossed on a technicality). Hernandez, meanwhile, is a monument to what you can accomplish with a broken system of checks and balances and a whole lot of gumption. He even convinced the city to buy him a $44,000 Jaguar luxury SUV last year for no apparent reason. At this rate, he'll be president one day.

7. Florida City: Florida City is known for a very large prison, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew, and its wicked "mayor for life" Otis T. Wallace, who first won in a landslide in 1984. At the time of his election, Wallace earned a $23,000 annual salary. But he soon began to profit from 223 low-priced apartments, which later racked up 178 housing violations in a span of two years. In an investigation of Wallace's alleged misdeeds, New Times showed that he's been accused of manipulating elections and the FBI and Miami-Dade Police public corruption unit have repeatedly investigated him, collecting testimony that he illegally sold his vote for a $1 million land deal and orchestrated bribes for city permits. He has never been charged, though, and six years after that New Times story, Wallace is still in office. All hail Emperor Otis.

8. North Miami: In 2011, New Times ran an incendiary headline: "Indict North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre," the story screamed. There was good reason to beg prosecutors to clean house. Pierre had been caught trying to ferret money out to his friends in a series of questionable deals; rolled around town in a borrowed, $100,000 Porsche Panamera that he'd conveniently neglected to report as a gift; blew $4,000 on fake police badges for his pals and authorized $8,000 for another cop's company to bug city hall offices with video cameras; and at one point tried to hand off a huge stretch of undeveloped land to his own former campaign manager, who planned to build some sort of indoor ski slope there. Pierre's nephew, Ricardo Brutus, was arrested in March 2011 on charges that he'd extorted money in exchange for political favors. While Brutus and the mayor known as "Uncle Andre" denied any wrongdoing, Brutus was filmed taking $3,500 in cash from a local landlord — and then walking into the mayor's office with a white envelope, which the Florida Department of Law Enforcement suspected was filled with a big wad of corruption money.

Things have simmered down a bit since then, but only slightly: In 2016, after a North Miami cop shot unarmed behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey in the leg (all because someone called the cops on Kinsey for trying to help an autistic man out of a city intersection), an FDLE recording New Times obtained showed that then-Chief Gary Eugene thought his department was a cesspool of hatred and poor training. Eugene himself was later canned after he gave conflicting statements to FDLE and his own internal affairs department.

9. Homestead: Homestead is Miami-Dade County's second-oldest city, so it's had more than a century to cause trouble. And these days, politicians operate like nobody is paying attention, which usually winds up biting them in the ass. Take former Mayor Steve Bateman, who first took office in 2009 and pretty much immediately plunged the city into scandal. Bateman's tenure was marred by everything from infighting to department heads sending sexually harassing text messages to employees to the city manager using his government-issued laptop to visit an S&M website. Bateman also was accused of physical battery by a woman renting one of his properties.

Bateman might have won a second term — had he not been arrested in 2013 amid his reelection campaign. Turns out, he'd been taking payments from a local health contractor while using his position as mayor to help the company get a new facility built.

In 2018, Homestead's police may take the cake as the most jack-booted of them all: The department has repeatedly arrested critics during city commission meetings for saying not-so-nice-things about Homestead cops. The problem became so blatant that the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city last February on behalf of a schoolteacher arrested on "trespassing" charges and temporarily banned from city hall after asking local cops to wear body cameras.

10. Bal Harbour: Bal Harbour is a great place to be a cop. Not because it has oceanside condos and perhaps the fanciest mall in America. It's because — at least back in 2012 — you could have joined a task force that spent of hundreds of thousands of dollars on four-star hotel bookings, first-class flights, and restaurant tabs that cost more than $1,000. The Miami Herald's Michael Sallah uncovered high living by the cops, who from an obscure trailer laundered $70 million for bad guys without ever pressing criminal charges, then kept more than $2 million for themselves. Even by fancy mall standards, that's a lot of cash.

11. Sunny Isles Beach: In this 1.8-mile strip of a town where the sand is as white as a Siberian winter, three identical 45-story Trump-branded condos went up in 2008. A red tide of Russians followed. Today, Sunny Isles is known as "Little Moscow," and it's a veritable matryoshka doll of sleaze, much of it surrounding these Trump-branded condos. In 2017, a Russian official was fired from his state job after he failed to disclose that he owned several Trump-branded properties. The Herald later reported he had ties to a South Florida motorcycle club dedicated to the Russian secret police who were secretly involved in the Ukrainian uprising. Earlier this year, the FBI brought racketeering charges against a Russian businessman for using his mother-in-law's name to defraud her of more than $8 million and purchase an apartment in the very same Trump-branded condos.

12. Sweetwater: A city best known nowadays for being home to thousands of FIU students was founded in 1941 when a troupe of retired Russian midgets left a freak show and moved to Florida. True to form, the place never really stopped being a circus. In 2014, Mayor Manuel Maroño was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal bribery charges — and that's not even the city's craziest corruption case. Last year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested two Sweetwater police officers, Sgt. Reny Armando Garcia and Det. William Garcia, on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, and organized scheme to defraud. According to investigators, the dirty duo stole cash, vehicles, and electronics from homes; shocked a man's testicles with a Taser; and even waterboarded a guy until he falsely confessed to a burglary. The cases are still pending in criminal court, but the corrupt cops face decades in prison if convicted.

13. Biscayne Park: How does a leafy village of 3,000 that doesn't include a single business manage to be corrupt? Simple: By hiring a known bad apple as police chief and letting him run wild. In 2006, Raimundo Atesiano was fired from the Sunny Isles force after getting caught forging a signature. Biscayne Park hired him anyway, and in 2011 promoted him to chief. According to an ongoing federal criminal case, Atesiano then ordered his cops to essentially arrest random black people to pad their closure rates for unsolved crimes. "If you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries," one cop said in a later probe of the conduct. Atesiano, who denies the charges, and two of his cops are now federally charged with faking charges against one innocent teen. Biscayne Park should live in infamy for ever letting him run a police department.

Ranking Miami-Dade's Most Corrupt Cities
Illustration by Alvero Diaz-Rubio

14. Doral: For a city only 15 years old, Doral has developed an impressive reputation for shady behavior. For starters, it's the home of Trump's southernmost golf course and resort, where the president once hung a $10,000 portrait of himself that he'd dubiously acquired with Trump Foundation dollars. The city also happens to be one of the country's largest money-laundering hubs for drug cartels: A 2017 USA Today investigation found that undercover cops on a South Florida task force laundered at least $20 million through Doral storefronts during a three-year sting but failed to net a single arrest. Meanwhile at the Doral Police Department, Leonardo Mayi, a public service aide who was supposed to protect the public, was using his job to pocket cash from towing companies. After being busted by the feds, he pleaded guilty in May 2016.

15. Miami Gardens: In a city where the population is over 80 percent black, Miami Gardens has a disgraceful history of stop-and-frisk policies fueled by racial profiling. Between 2008 and 2013, police stopped more than half of all residents, including more than 8,000 minors and almost 1,800 senior citizens. One man, Earl Sampson, was stopped at least 200 times. According to a whistleblower, those stops were unquestionably motivated by race: Officer Jose Rosado said in a lawsuit against the city that a supervisor instructed him to stop any black male between 15 and 30. In 2013, Miami Gardens was slapped with a federal civil rights lawsuit; the case was settled in 2015 on undisclosed terms.

16. Hialeah Gardens: These days, tiny Hialeah Gardens rarely makes the news. It was a different story in the late '90s and early 2000s, when the city of about 20,000 was rocked by a made-for-the-tabloids saga. Two city employees — an assistant to the mayor and a parks and rec staffer — accused Mayor Gilda Oliveros of ordering them to murder her husband. When they refused, Oliveras taunted and harassed them with gay slurs and challenges to their masculinity. The trial of one of America's first Latina mayors was a closely followed public airing of salacious municipal gossip, including allegations of affairs between elected officials, forced participation in Santeria rituals, and widespread corruption. Oliveras, branded with the sexist moniker of "Miniskirt Mayor," was found guilty in the murder-for-hire plot in 2000, but the conviction was overturned three years later. Since then, the mayor and her city have both faded back into obscurity.

17. Key Biscayne: In 1948, Cuban Minister of Education Jose Manuel Aleman came to Miami in exile. He bought a tract of land on Key Biscayne called Cape Florida for $1.5 million. Then he died. Nine years later, his widow sold the property for a profit, beginning a notorious trend of Latin American politicians and their wives setting up house in Key Biscayne. In 2016, Mexican politicians and civil leaders called for an investigation into former President Enrique Peña Nieto's wife after the owner of the company that runs Citi Bike Miami paid nearly $3,000 in property taxes on the Key Biscayne condo she owns. Last year, it was reported that a Brazilian investor known as "King Arthur" who owns a $5.3 million villa on the island was investigated for allegedly rigging the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro's favor.

18. Golden Beach: The tiny town of Golden Beach, which measures just one mile north to south, is home to properties owned by über-rich white dudes like Bill Gates, Eric Clapton, and Paul Newman. It's also home of the catchphrase, "I am the city manager, bitch!" which Town Manager Alexander Diaz coined during his arrest for DUI in 2009. Predictably, Diaz beat the rap, but a second scandal soon exploded when an employee sued the town for wrongful termination, saying she was canned after reporting an officer for clocking in during hours he hadn't actually worked. In September 2012, a federal jury forced the town to pay whistleblower Tammy Valdes more than a quarter-million in damages, but the saga didn't end there: Three months after the verdict, Valdes was charged with illegal firearms dealing and later sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

19. Miami Lakes: Sometimes, it just takes one exceptionally colorful mayor to drag a city's reputation into the muck, and Miami Lakes was lucky enough to have Michael Pizzi to play that role. During an undercover sting in 2010, Pizzi allegedly plotted to plant cocaine in a rival town councilman's car before talking about other ways to get rid of him. "Rig the fucking brakes on his car. Fucking take him out. I don't want to see him anymore," Pizzi was recorded telling an informant. Confronted with the tapes, the mayor chalked the whole thing up to "meaningless, over the top, silly, ridiculous drinking talk." Miami-Dade Police never filed charges, but three years later, Pizzi was popped by the FBI for allegedly accepting almost $7,000 in bribes from undercover agents posing as shady businessmen. After being acquitted by a federal jury in 2014, Pizzi sued the city for $3.25 million in legal fees. A judge dismissed the suit this past April, but Pizzi's lawyers have already appealed.

20. West Miami: West Miami has the unfortunate distinction of being the birthplace of Marco Rubio's political career. Yes, it was in this three-quarters-of-a-square-mile burb that a not-yet-dead-behind-the-eyes Little Marco began his path toward being owned by Donald Trump in the 2016 election, running for the Senate after months of telling the world how much he hated the job, and then nodding along as Trump threw immigrant children into cages and dallied with murderous dictators. Other than launching the career of a spineless politician who once used a GOP credit card to pay his mortgage and dinner tabs, West Miami's biggest blemish is probably the 2009 arrest of then-Mayor Cesar Carasa for racking up $70,000 while chatting to Dominican lady friends and then making city employees fight Sprint over the charges. Carasa's arrest didn't stop him from running for office again in 2010. He lost and then was convicted of exploiting his official position.

21. Coral Gables: To most, Coral Gables' Miracle Mile, a strip of fast-casual eateries and clothing stores for retired aunts, looks pretty tame. But in January, the Miami Herald exposed one of its stores — a home decor boutique called Violetas — — as a front for a massive gold-smuggling operation. The secret smuggling business, which went by the name MVP Imports, flew in nearly $337 million in illegally mined gold through Miami International Airport. That wasn't the wealthy suburb's only brush with notoriety. In 2013, two city workers were arrested in what cops called "Operation Bogus Billing" for overcharging residents on their taxes. Just last year, U.S. marshals descended on the city to arrest Ricardo Martinelli, the former president of Panama, on charges of political espionage and corruption. Martinelli, who had reportedly spied on political opponents in Panama and intercepted phone calls with more than 100 people, had settled into the vanilla-seeming city after fleeing his country.

22. South Miami: For a city in Dirty Dade, South Miami has been squeaky clean of late. But things in the City of Pleasant Living haven't always been so pleasant. Back in 2004, then-Mayor Horace Feliu was arrested outside city hall for accepting an illegal campaign contribution. It so happened to be the night before the election. He lost the race but ended up successfully fighting the charges. Former Vice Mayor Armando Oliveros wasn't so lucky. In 1999, he had to resign his seat after he was busted for laundering $150,000 in cocaine and heroin money for a client of his law firm. For pulling a Saul Goodman, Oliveros served seven years in prison. Upon his release, he promptly entered the 2012 commission race, telling Miami's Community Newspapers he was "part of one of the best board of commissioners we have ever had." Voters apparently weren't convinced: He lost.

23. Indian Creek: This minuscule town, called "Billionaires' Bunker" by Forbes, is among America's wealthiest. Leaders voted a tax on residents several years ago that hit former Dolphins coach Don Shula and former U.S Sen. George Smathers' wife, Carolyn, in a way they said was illegal. OK, that's not such a big deal, but literally everyone in this town is filthy rich and probably did terrible things to get all that cash. Case in point: Last year University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino put his eight-bedroom mansion in this filthy rich hamlet on the market for $24 million after being busted and fired for his massive recruiting violations.

24. Palmetto Bay: In 2015, Palmetto Bay's Vice Mayor John DuBois did his friend and political supporter a favor by harboring his son, Stanley Kowlesser Jr., for a few months in his multimillion-dollar bayside condo. Now, why did Stanley Jr. need a place to live? Well, in the middle of a night earlier that year, Stanley had broken into a home in Palmetto Bay and sexually molested a 9-year-old girl in her bed. He was ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from his victim, so DuBois opened his doors to Stanley and even raised money for his defense. DuBois also told the judge at a hearing: "I don't believe there is any possibility whatsoever that Junior did what he is accused of" — but then Stanley pled guilty in 2017. When CBS4 asked DuBois why he would defend someone who sexually molested a 9-year old girl, he blamed his "enemies" on the town council for focusing attention on his role in the case.

A year later, the Herald interviewed DuBois about his pattern of filing lawsuits that a University of Miami law professor said were "possibly an abuse of court." DuBois' response: "When my rights are violated, I act. I don't just sit there." Oh, DuBois also infamously cut down a bunch of mangroves that blocked the view of the water from his condo, then counter-sued the county when it tried to force him to replace them.

25. Surfside: The municipality of Surfside spans about one square mile, of which nearly half is water, but that's still plenty of dry land for scheming. In 2006, Surfside cop Woodward Brooks was investigated for planting cocaine on a town activist and falsely arresting a city commissioner for driving under the influence. Brooks was fired, then rehired, then fired again in 2010 for his involvement in a staged car crash and insurance fraud. That same year, another cop was accused of working with his brother, a tow truck driver, to run a bribery scheme involving drunk drivers. The town was so notorious for corruption that a New Times reporter once ran for city commission on a joke platform — including promising to "turn cops I don't like into my butlers" and to "pet my lap dog Murray menacingly during commission meetings" — and did well enough to win the support of Dorie Laurie, an 82-year-old firebrand and one of the city's most prominent local figures. (He did still lose spectacularly at the polls.)

26. Bay Harbor Islands: Mess with the mayor of Bay Harbor Islands and you might come home to find your building condemned. That's pretty much what happened to local gadfly Victor Maya — not just once, but twice. Maya, an advocate of preserving the town's historic MiMo architecture, declared at a heated 2016 meeting that he would challenge sitting Mayor Jordan Leonard for his seat. The next day, his condo building was hit with several building code violations. Leonard called it "a coincidence." Two years later, after Maya ultimately lost the election, he found another notice, this time branding his condo building an "unsafe structure." Leonard once again blamed coincidence. Maya wasn't buying it. "This is what happens when you challenge the town establishment," he told the Miami Herald.

27. Virginia Gardens: This town has like six people living in it. Tops. OK, technically there are 2,375 people here, but there are few enough souls that the .3-square-mile village shouldn't be able to play as dirty as it does. Last year, police Chief Jim Chohonis was placed on leave after it came out that he had led a multicity car chase and forcefully detained two subjects, all while under the influence of opiates. In May, another resident was arrested for participating in a multistate child exploitation ring. Plus, Virginia Gardens was once stupid enough to hire (and then fire) Florida's renowned "worst cop," a wildly corrupt figure with 40 internal probes under his belt, 16 lawsuits including battery and excessive force, several drug charges, a false imprisonment conviction, and a name straight out of a Marvel movie: German Bosque. The village let Bosque go before he graduated from its police academy after learning he had been toting a fake badge and was already pretending to be a cop.

Ranking Miami-Dade's Most Corrupt Cities
Illustration by Alvero Diaz-Rubio

28. Miami Shores: They call Miami Shores the Village Beautiful, not the Village Stupid. So how did Carolyn Modeste, who had been the city's comptroller for a dozen years, get away with stealing $200,000 after falling for the oldest scam in the book? She and her dad received a letter saying rich Nigerian orphans needed some cash to get out of their country. They didn't trash the letter, though. They actually stole money and sent it to the scammers. And Modeste was the person who oversees accounting and internal controls. Back in 2012, she got 20 months in prison. Now maybe she's trying to sell the village a bridge in Brooklyn.

29. Miami Springs: You would hope a cop might try to build a case against a man he's told is a cocaine dealer. Miami Springs Police Sgt. Andres Quintanilla did just the opposite: He tried to join him. Instead of getting rich pumping coke onto the streets, Quintanilla was busted on a federal corruption charge. The 2015 case, in which the disgraced officer was convicted and sentenced to nine years behind bars, was the most recent shadiness to come from the city initially called Country Club Estates. But in the not-so-distant past, the 13,000-person community with Pueblo-style architecture saw its share of scandal. Take former Mayor Zavier Garcia. In 2011, it was revealed that he spent $19,000 from his campaign coffers on services from DRC Consulting, a company he happened to work for. The spending caught the attention of the public corruption unit at the state attorney's office, which five years earlier had investigated the then-council member for the petty move of removing an enemy's campaign signs. Garcia was let off the hook both times and reelected. He held the mayor's office until just last year.

30. El Portal: So if your town included a trailer park where a bunch of poor folks lived back in 2015 and that park was sold to developers who named their company "Wealthy Delight," would you get suspicious? What about if the new owners gave those poor trailer dwellers the boot? And then it became clear the Village of El Portal had agreed to forgive more than $8 million in liens on the site if those new owners paid $575,000 and razed the mobile home park? Might you think the city was in developers' pocket?

31. Aventura: Aventura is home to the second-largest mall in America, which means it's a safe bet that some legit mall-cop shenanigans go down here. You know some of those guys are getting Auntie Anne's free on the side in exchange for letting pretzel workers smoke indoors. But yeah, there's not much else to see in terms of actual corruption in this coastal town of 35,000. Sure, some of the corrupt cash from the Brazilian Odebrecht scandal was traced to luxury condo purchases here, but good luck finding a high-end building in Miami that doesn't have some units linked to dirty international cash.

32. Cutler Bay: In '92, Hurricane Andrew all but wiped Cutler Bay off the map. Maybe that explains why this somnolent hamlet of 40,000 has yet to catch up to Dade County's very high corruption expectations. About the only whiff of official corruption to hit the town in recent years came when Richard Candia, who was once Cutler Bay's main lobbyist, was popped by the FBI for corruption in 2013. But Candia actually helped the feds by wearing wiretaps in their futile attempts to nab then-Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi. What does all that say about Cutler Bay? Not much. Let's give them a few more years to catch up to the rest of South Florida.

33. Pinecrest: Like the polo-wearing high schoolers who grace the pages of Positive People in Pinecrest this town is squeaky clean. The Serpentarium that closed in the '80s might've been the most two-faced thing that's happened in this town, where the bank robbers are senior citizens who merely ask the teller for cash and walk out on foot. In 2016, a police officer released an iguana that was trapped in a chainlink fence (when he should have just let it die), but that's it, folks. Not much to see here.

34. Medley: This town once had a roadkill museum. And Medley is so empty that residents used to get paid just to live here. How corrupt can it be?

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