Former Sweetwater commissioner slapped with absentee-ballot charge

Isolina Maroño, former Sweetwater commissioner.
Isolina Maroño, former Sweetwater commissioner.

The small West Miami-Dade town of Sweetwater has a long history of crooked public officials, most notably its recent mayor, Manuel Maroño, who went to federal prison for corruption.

Now his mother is in trouble with the law.

Prosecutors on Thursday charged 69-year-old Isolina Maroño, herself a former Sweetwater commissioner. The minor charge: violating a county ordinance outlawing the possession of multiple absentee ballots, stemming from last May’s election when voters ousted her.

Her son was a powerful political figure in South Florida, serving as mayor of the town from 2002 to 2013. He got 40 months in prison for accepting thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for supporting sham government grant applications.

Former Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño, pictured outside a Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse after his corruption arrest in 2013. To his right is his mother, Isolina Maroño, who was charged Thursday with a misdemeanor count of possessing too many absentee ballots. Roberto Koltun El Nuevo Herald

This isn’t the first time Isolina Maroño has been involved in a controversy over absentee ballots.

In 2007, she and city commissioner Manuel Duasso were detained with several absentee ballots in a vehicle they were riding in. Investigators determined that the collection of absentee ballots was a common practice in Sweetwater. At the time, there was no law against collecting other people's ballots.

Since then, Miami-Dade County enacted an ordinance barring anyone from retrieving two or more absentee ballots that do not belong to them or to close relatives. She is accused of having three ballots that belonged to relatives that were permitted under the ordinance.

Isolina Maroño was appointed to a vacant commission seat in 2012 and was elected to the seat the following year. It was unclear if Maroño has representation on Thursday.