Former Miami Beach building officials accepts plea deal

Previous Miami Beach front constructing formal Mariano Fernández will not be heading to jail for illegally accepting absolutely free resort stays and items from a Spanish lodge business.

In a plea deal struck with Miami-Dade prosecutors earlier this week, Fernández accepted two decades of household arrest, to be adopted by two many years of probation. He also been given a withhold of adjudication, which usually means he won’t technically have a felony on his file. He approved the plea deal on a cost of unlawful compensation.

Fernández, 67, had been awaiting trial given that his arrest in February 2018.

Prosecutors claimed Fernández blatantly traded his influence and perform for luxury rooms in South Beach front, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The stays came from RIU Lodges & Resorts, which owns additional than 100 accommodations in 19 nations around the world, like a resort on South Beach front that desired making permits from Fernández’s department.

His protection attorney, Jeffrey Weiner, explained the security of properties in Miami Seashore ended up never ever compromised and that Fernández did not comprehend that his friendship with RIU executives crossed the line.

“It was lousy judgment on his portion, looking back again, and he is aware it,” Weiner claimed.

As the prime setting up official at Town Corridor, Fernández experienced major electricity above inspections and allowing for development and renovation jobs in the vacation resort town — important features that ascertain the timeline for completion of large initiatives. Concerning October 2013 and June 2016, RIU essential permits for a key renovation to its South Beach front property.

Mariano Fernandez, middle, surrendered to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s place of work Tuesday on a cost of receiving illegal payment even though serving as Miami Beach’s constructing formal. Miami Herald file image

Prosecutors explained Fernández on a regular basis solicited totally free and comped rooms for himself and his workers, even assisting to arrange “team-building” section retreats at deeply discounted prices. In all, at the very least 5 of Fernández’s workers acquired outright free stays by way of Fernández, and dozens more got discounted premiums, amounting to above 200 evenings.

Just one of individuals “team-building” trips was in September 2015 to the RIU Palace Bavaro All-Inclusive Resort in Punta Cana. There, Fernández and his wife acquired a absolutely free suite — and a birthday bottle of Johnny Walker Black Scotch in their room, furthermore a VIP night time at the Coco-Bongo nightclub.

City developing departments across South Florida have been in the news since the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South constructing in Surfside. The town’s previous creating formal, Ross Prieto, who explained to apartment inhabitants the tower was in great form despite a 2018 report detailing structural destruction, employed to function for the metropolis of Miami Seashore.

RIU Surrender 08 EKM
(L) Alejandro Sanchez Del Arco, regional manager for the Caribbean for RIU and Luis Riu Guell, Jr. , CEO and operator of the RIU Lodge & Vacation resort chain surrendered in Miami court in Choose Jorge Cueto’s courtroom Monday early morning, Feb. 12, 2018 to encounter allegations they gave cost-free lodge stays to a Miami Beach city formal in exchange for assistance with creating permits. The two RIU executives ended up handcuffed in court docket and led away to be booked into jail exactly where they the two could put up bond. Emily Michot [email protected]

Fernandez was hired at Miami Seaside in 2013, and was fired shortly ahead of his arrest.

The Miami-Dade Point out Attorney’s Business office also billed Luis Riu Guell Jr., RIU’s operator, as effectively as the company by itself, together with RIU’s regional vice president, Alejandro Sanchez del Arco.

In February, the situation was dismissed in opposition to Guell, even though the enterprise alone was set on probation and experienced to fork out virtually $500,000 in fines and donations, and acquire a program aimed at making sure compliance for workforce in foreseeable future making matters. Sanchez del Arco also received two many years of probation and experienced to shell out 30 days less than property arrest.

The public corruption situation also indirectly ensnared Fernandez’s former wife, Miami-Dade County Choose Maria Fernández.

In 2019, the Florida Supreme Court docket ordered her suspended for the reason that she unsuccessful to report the cost-free lodge stays whilst the two had been married. She also agreed to pay a $5,000 high-quality and accept a general public reprimand.

David Ovalle handles crime and courts in Miami. A indigenous of San Diego, he graduated from the University of Southern California and joined the Herald in 2002 as a sports activities reporter.