MiamiHerald / Miami Beach can’t seem to shake its reputation for attracting public corruption.
The billion-dollar sandbar went six years without a high-profile arrest of a City Hall employee before the clean streak ended Tuesday. Prosecutors charged Mariano Fernández, the city’s chief building official until he was fired in November, with accepting unlawful compensation in the form of free and deeply discounted rooms from a hotelier who received permits and approvals from Fernández’s department.
Fernández is accused of greasing the permitting process for RIU Hotels & Resorts , a Spanish company whose Collins Avenue hotel underwent a large-scale renovation. In return, Fernández was able to get free and reduced-rate hotel rooms on multiple occasions for himself, his wife and his employees, according to prosecutors.
The felony charges against Fernández, who surrendered Tuesday, deal a new and particularly stinging blow to those who have their hands on the levers of power in the Beach — administrators and elected officials who have touted the city’s recent relatively good record under their stewardship .