Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez Indicted for Extorting Payoffs from Developers (Flashback 1990)
|Remember? These were the news in 1990. (Bold fonts added)|
Mayor and a Councilman Are Indicted in Hialeah
The Mayor of Hialeah, Florida’s fifth-largest city, has been indicted by a Federal grand jury on charges that he conspired with a City Councilman to extort payoffs from developers in exchange for approving zoning changes. The Councilman was also indicted.
The indictment, returned Tuesday, followed a five-year inquiry into Hialeah’s operations. Gov. Bob Martinez immediately suspended without pay both the Mayor, Raul Martinez, and his co-defendant, Councilman Andres Mejides, until the case is resolved.
Mayor Martinez, 41 years old, who is not related to the Governor, denied the charges against him. ”Keep the faith, and at the end I am going to prevail because I am innocent,” he said in a message to constituents on Tuesday.
Mayor Accused of 2 Counts
The Mayor is accused of profiting by $900,000 from illegal activity. The indictment charged him with two counts of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, along with seven extortion-related counts.
Mr. Mejides, 51, was also named in the two racketeering counts, along with four counts of obtaining property by extortion.
The Government also says Mr. Martinez must forfeit $900,000 in property and cash that he allegedly obtained from racketeering activities. Mr. Mejides must forfeit $24,000 in property, the Government said.
The City Council President, Julio Martinez, who is not related to either the Governor or the Mayor, was sworn in late Tuesday as Acting Mayor.
Council Vacancies Are Filled
Paulino Nunez and Evelio Medina, who were the highest unelected vote-getters in the last City Council election, were sworn in to fill the resulting Council vacancies.
The indictment also named several other current and former Hialeah officials as unindicted co-conspirators. The indictment charges that from 1981 to 1987 half of the city’s eight elected officials repeatedly shook down developers and builders seeking to rezone property in Hialeah.
Raul Martinez has been Mayor of the predominantly Hispanic working-class city of more than 200,000 residents since 1981. He was handily re-elected to a fifth term in November after a campaign in which opponents raised the issue of his real estate dealings.
The Mayor replied that he had been under Federal scrutiny for years, but apparently without any finding of wrongdoing. He has charged that the investigations were politically motivated.