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No Sunshine Law violations in Hialeah, says state attorney’s office

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office and Miami-Dade Ethics Commission have found the Hialeah City Council did not violate sunshine laws prior to a budget meeting in September.

Two weeks ago, former mayor and current mayoral candidate Julio Martinez accused the council of meeting behind closed doors in the hours before a public budget hearing on Sept. 9.

He played reporters a surveillance video he obtained through a public records request that shows council members walking in and out of a lobby near the mayor’s office, a conference room and the office of the finance director.

On Monday, Mayor Carlos Hernandez and the Council presented the results of the investigation, which concluded the allegations had no merit.

“The alleged violation of the Sunshine Law cannot be even supported by the evidence gathered,’’ read the State Attorney’s closeout memo. “There is no basis to believe a law enforcement agency should be involved. Based on the statements and video provided, there is not reason to open a criminal investigation.’’

Hernandez echoed the report, saying Martinez used the videos as a political tactic during election season. He also said the city will sue Martinez to recover the legal costs associated with the investigation.

Outside City Hall, Martinez told reporters he’s ready to defend himself from any legal action and expressed doubts about the speed of the investigation.

The Ethics Commission interviewed all council members and some city employees during the investigation, according to the report. Council members Isis Garcia-Martinez, Luis Gonzalez, Paul Hernandez, Lourdes Lozano and Jose Caragol joined the mayor in affirming the report’s findings.

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