West Miami-Dade


Sweetwater fires several officials in continuing 'Clean House' effort


Sweetwater Mayor José M. Díaz has fired several department heads and employees close to former Mayor Manuel “Manny” Maroño.

Díaz plans to make a formal announcement at City Hall on Tuesday, according to a press release. He said the dismissals are part of his “Clean House” project.

Among those dismissed: Joanna Rubio, director of Human Resources; Anny Chez, finance director; Guillermo “Gil” Chez, manager of the fleet of city vehicles and Anny Chez’s husband, sources told El Nuevo Herald.

Rubio is the godmother of Maroño and his wife Jennifer Muñoz Maroño, who also is a city employee.

Guillermo Chez was hired in 2012, shortly after leaving his job as manager of Southland the Towing Company, a firm linked to the former mayor that operated on a no-contract monopoly basis with the city until last year.

Public records show he received an annual salary of nearly $50,000, while Anny Chez earned $75,000.

The salaries of the other ousted employees were not available on Monday.

Also dismissed, according to sources: Luis Quintero, director of Parks and Recreation; Míriam Mallea, a part-time employee in the passport office; and Frank Alvarez, a maintenance employee.

And the contract of Henry Idler, in charge of city planning, was not renewed.

Neither the mayor nor other officials would elaborate on the dismissals, but Díaz said in the press release that he wants the city government to be transparent.

“I will continue to send a message to our residents that, with the measures taken today, we will have a better future tomorrow,” he said.

Sweetwater has had a tumultuous time since August, when the FBI arrested Maroño on charges of public corruption. The former mayor pleaded guilty of charges related to bribes in exchange for official favors as an elected official. He is serving a 40-month sentence at a federal prison.

In the months after Maroño’s arrest, several cases of alleged city corruption came to light in connection with the police department and Southland, the towing company.

In an ongoing investigation, federal authorities are looking into the towing of hundreds of vehicles that critics say is an abuse of power. El Nuevo Herald and CBS4 have been investigating these connections since August.

This is not the first wave of dismissals in Sweetwater since Díaz took over in August.

In October, the mayor dismissed several police personnel, including officers and high-ranking officials.

Read more West Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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