West Miami-Dade

State Attorney will not file fraud charges against former Sweetwater employees

Former Sweetwater employee Jorge Gonzalez speaks at a commission meeting in October.
Former Sweetwater employee Jorge Gonzalez speaks at a commission meeting in October. El Nuevo Herald

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office has determined there isn’t enough evidence to file “organized scheme to defraud” charges against the former head of the Sweetwater maintenance department and a former employee whose company was paid more than $130,000 for alleged work projects completed in the city.

The decision comes even as Jorge González, owner of the company Jor & G Services Corp., admitted to authorities that he only completed four of the 41 jobs the company billed the city for. His former supervisor Antero Espinosa also was cleared of allegations that he knowingly approved the payments.

“There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the work billed by J&G, approved by Espinosa and paid by the City, was not done or completed,” according to a memorandum from the State Attorney’s office.

The criminal investigation, conducted by the state attorney’s Public Corruption Unit, made headlines last year because it came as Sweetwater battled various corruption issues within its ranks.

In July 2014, authorities launched a public corruption investigation to determine if the company had actually completed the jobs, or if the tasks were carried out by employees from the maintenance department.

In an interview with detective Frank Castillo, González said he only completed four jobs on his days off work, and he received $12,000.

However, the state attorney’s “close out” memo on the case states that records obtained through a subpoena showed $130,000 was deposited to the company’s bank account.

“All deposit slips had the signature of González and records showed most of the money was withdrawn from ATM machines located in different casinos, as well as several personal purchases made by González,” according to the document obtained by el Nuevo Herald.

The jobs that were presumably completed by Jor & G were approved by Espinosa, González’s boss at the time. The payments were approved by former mayor Manuel “Manny” Maroño, who is related to Espinosa. Current Commissioner Isolina Maroño, who is the former mayor’s mother, is Espinosa’s sister-in-law. Espinosa resigned from his city post in September 2013, following former mayor Maroño’s arrest on public corruption charges.

In July 2014, González denied to an el Nuevo Herald reporter that he was the owner of the company Jor & G Services, which was incorporated in 2009, a week before receiving the first payment from the municipality. A day later, during a meeting with Mayor José M. Díaz and other city officials, González admitted he created the company, but said he received less than $15,000 in payments. He was then fired and later asked to be reinstated, claiming he was pressured by Díaz to admit his guilt.

Espinosa, meanwhile, publicly stated he did not know the person cashing the checks for Jor & G Services, and only remembered it was an older man named Juanito.

The investigation was originally initiated by Sweetwater Police, who later asked for the State Attorney’s help. According to the State Attorney’s memo too much time had lapsed to determine if the jobs were indeed completed by González’s company.

Miami Herald Staff Rebeca Piccardo contributed to this report.

Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter: @BrendaMedinar.

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