Former Miami Beach building officials accepts plea deal

Former Miami Seashore making formal Mariano Fernández will not be heading to jail for illegally accepting absolutely free hotel stays and gifts from a Spanish hotel enterprise.

In a plea offer struck with Miami-Dade prosecutors before this week, Fernández accepted two decades of home arrest, to be followed by two several years of probation. He also acquired a withhold of adjudication, which usually means he won’t technically have a felony on his report. He accepted the plea deal on a demand of unlawful compensation.

Fernández, 67, experienced been awaiting trial due to the fact his arrest in February 2018.

Prosecutors reported Fernández blatantly traded his influence and work for luxurious rooms in South Seaside, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The stays arrived from RIU Resorts & Resorts, which owns additional than 100 inns in 19 nations, which includes a vacation resort on South Seaside that desired making permits from Fernández’s department.

His defense lawyer, Jeffrey Weiner, reported the basic safety of buildings in Miami Seashore have been hardly ever compromised and that Fernández did not notice that his friendship with RIU executives crossed the line.

“It was lousy judgment on his aspect, seeking back, and he is familiar with it,” Weiner reported.

As the prime constructing formal at Town Corridor, Fernández experienced important electricity around inspections and allowing for development and renovation projects in the resort city — vital functions that determine the timeline for completion of large initiatives. Among Oct 2013 and June 2016, RIU wanted permits for a major renovation to its South Seashore property.

Mariano Fernandez, heart, surrendered to the Miami-Dade point out attorney’s workplace Tuesday on a cost of receiving unlawful compensation while serving as Miami Beach’s creating formal. Miami Herald file photo

Prosecutors mentioned Fernández often solicited totally free and comped rooms for himself and his workforce, even assisting to organize “team-building” division retreats at deeply discounted charges. In all, at the very least 5 of Fernández’s employees acquired outright free stays through Fernández, and dozens additional got discounted prices, amounting to around 200 nights.

One particular of those people “team-building” trips was in September 2015 to the RIU Palace Bavaro All-Inclusive Vacation resort in Punta Cana. There, Fernández and his spouse received a no cost suite — and a birthday bottle of Johnny Walker Black Scotch in their space, additionally a VIP night time at the Coco-Bongo nightclub.

City constructing departments across South Florida have been in the information given that the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South creating in Surfside. The town’s previous making formal, Ross Prieto, who explained to condo residents the tower was in superior form despite a 2018 report detailing structural hurt, applied to operate for the town of Miami Beach.

RIU Surrender 08 EKM
(L) Alejandro Sanchez Del Arco, regional manager for the Caribbean for RIU and Luis Riu Guell, Jr. , CEO and owner of the RIU Hotel & Vacation resort chain surrendered in Miami courtroom in Choose Jorge Cueto’s courtroom Monday early morning, Feb. 12, 2018 to confront allegations they gave free of charge resort stays to a Miami Beach front city official in exchange for aid with building permits. The two RIU executives have been handcuffed in courtroom and led away to be booked into jail wherever they both could put up bond. Emily Michot [email protected]

Fernandez was hired at Miami Seaside in 2013, and was fired soon prior to his arrest.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office also billed Luis Riu Guell Jr., RIU’s proprietor, as nicely as the firm alone, alongside with RIU’s regional vice president, Alejandro Sanchez del Arco.

In February, the case was dismissed in opposition to Guell, when the enterprise by itself was put on probation and had to spend nearly $500,000 in fines and donations, and develop a system aimed at guaranteeing compliance for staff in foreseeable future developing matters. Sanchez del Arco also acquired two a long time of probation and experienced to spend 30 times beneath residence arrest.

The community corruption scenario also indirectly ensnared Fernandez’s previous wife, Miami-Dade County Choose Maria Fernández.

In 2019, the Florida Supreme Court docket purchased her suspended simply because she unsuccessful to report the absolutely free resort stays though the two have been married. She also agreed to fork out a $5,000 great and settle for a public reprimand.

David Ovalle addresses crime and courts in Miami. A indigenous of San Diego, he graduated from the College of Southern California and joined the Herald in 2002 as a sports activities reporter.