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Sweetwater police chief says time has come to retire


Special to the Miami Herald

Roberto Fulgueira’s service as Sweetwater’s police chief could be coming to an end.

On Monday, Fulgueira, 54, said in an interview that he has intentions of retiring from a position he has held since 2005, when ex-mayor Manny Maroño promoted him. Fulgueira said he has been pondering retiring for two years.

“I am going to retire soon, but it won’t be long,” he said. “I’ve done 32 years. I’m tired, and my mother is in very poor health and almost on her death bed. I have to spend some time with her.”

His statement comes following an FBI investigation and a fair amount of scrutiny on current officials.

In August, detective William Garcia was arrested by the FBI and accused of fraud and identity theft over the use of phony credit cards. A week later, Sgt. Reny García and detective Octavio Oliu were suspended with pay as a result of the federal agency’s investigations. Civilian employee Richard Brenner was suspended with pay but later returned to work.

Also, Sweetwater Mayor Jose Diaz has restructured the department. But Fulgueira insists that the recent troubles aren’t the reason for his retirement.

“I have a good relationship with the mayor. I don’t have any problems,” he said while standing next to Diaz. “I am not being forced to retire, but I have a big problem with my mother and I need to spend time with her.”

Standing next to Fulgueira, Diaz said he doesn’t want him to leave.

“He wants to go, but I tell him, ‘No, don’t go,’ ” he said.

Before leaving his post, Fulgueira, who lives in Miami, said he will work with Diaz for a smooth transition.

“We will work together after that,” he said. “I plan on doing something for the city when I retire. This is my city. I’ve lived 54 years, and I have worked here for 32 years.”

Fulgueira began his career at the department as an auxiliary officer and has held the following ranks: Corporal, Sergeant, Detective, Detective Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Assistant Chief and Chief.

The Cuban-born chief, who owns property in Sweetwater, says he will possibly retire to Texas, where he owns a ranch.

“I’m going to miss it,” he said. “Once a cop, always a cop.”

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