Two mayors in South Florida have been arrested over corruption charges, prompting suspensions.The FBI has booked Michael Pizzi, mayor of Miami Lakes, and Manuel "Manny" Marono, the mayor of Sweetwater.
According to Press TV, Pizzi also serves as town attorney in Medley. Before being elected, he was working as a criminal defense lawyer.
He is accused of taking bribes as part of a scheme set up with the help of fellow attorney and lobbyist Richard F. Candia.
The affidavit mentions corruption in relation with federal grants for the towns of Miami Lakes and Medley.
"This is a sad day for South Florida, this betrayal of our public trust is intolerable," U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said.
"Our democracy suffers when, as in these cases, elected officials use their power and political influence for personal gain instead of for the public good.
"Public corruption, at any level of government, corrodes and undermines the public's confidence in our system of government," US Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer has told the press in a statement.
NBC Miami details that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced the suspensions of the two public figures following corruption charges being pressed on Tuesday.
"This is disappointing. [...] While we wait to see the evidence, the fact remains that elected officials must be held to the highest standard," Scott said in a statement after the arrests.
Tuesday is also when the pair made their first appearance in court. They both maintained their innocence.
"This has been 10 years of great progress for the city of Sweetwater, progress that will continue, and Manny looks forward to the opportunity to prove his innocence," Marono's attorney Kendall Coffey relayed.
"I ask everyone to please remember one of our basic tenets in our constitution. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty," adds Miami Lakes Vice Mayor and Interim Mayor Ceasar Mestre.