Boynton Beach Mayor Jose Rodriguez surrendered at the Palm Beach County Jail on Thursday on public-corruption charges alleging that he repeatedly tried to use the power of his office to obstruct an investigation into a child-abuse charge …
Photographer: Jim Rassol, Sun Sentinel
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Boynton Beach Mayor Jose Rodriguez turned himself in at the Palm Beach County Jail late Thursday afternoon on charges of corruption.
According to a probable cause affidavit, he used his position as mayor to obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation against him.
That investigation involved allegations of abuse and was being investigated by the Department of Children and Families and Boynton Beach Police, according to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's office.
Mayor Rodriguez's attorney Kenneth Lemoine said in an official statement that his client brought the issue of problems at the Boynton Beach Police Department to the attention of the city commission and asked for a review to be done.
"Mr. Rodriguez called the police chief to be held accountable for what they're doing down there, that's why this is happening, pure retaliation," says Lemoine.
But in an affidavit released by the state attorney's office officers stated Rodriguez's wife, Sara Marquez, told investigators he hit her daughter.
"It's an unfortunate incident," Mayor Rodriguez said. "The old cliché, 'no good deed goes unpunished' is alive and well. I look forward to my day in court and clearing my name."
The affidavit alleges that the mayor contacted the Boynton Beach Police Chief and interim city manager to obstruct the investigation.
The official charges are: Unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior, solicitation to commit unlawful disclosure of confidential criminal information and resisting, and obstruction or opposing a law enforcement officer.
The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted. The other two charges carry maximum sentences of 1 year each.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe said in a written statement, "“The allegations in this case involve an elected official using his position and status as mayor to intimidate law enforcement in order to protect himself from scrutiny. The alleged abuse of power also included using a mayor’s access to others in government to obtain confidential criminal investigative information – about a pending investigation into the mayor’s private conduct."
Mayor Rodriguez has entered a plea of not guilty.
"I have no idea where these allegations are coming from, I don't even know what they are," he said.
McAuliffe said the allegations against the mayor center around using power to avoid scrutiny, reflecting the opposite of public service.
"The message is simple – elected officials must honor the requirement and expectation that they serve the public good and not their own private interests," McAuliffe said. "The case involves an alleged corruption of process and principle.”
Rodriguez was sworn in as mayor in March of last year.
He previously served one term as District Three City Commissioner from November 2006 to March 2010.
Commissioner Steven Holzman, who took office alongside the Mayor in March of 2010, said he had no idea Rodriquez was even under investigation.
"Absolute shock, the phone dropped from my ear when I heard it," said Holzman. "I have a hard time believing that the mayor would use his position in any way other than those that are lawfully permitted," he said.
Commissioners are now consulting with the city attorney to determine what happens next.
The mayor's released this statement through his attorney:
"Mayor Jose Rodriguez has served his community well for the past five years. He has always had the best interest of the city at hand and has fought for the rights of its citizens.
Recently when citizens began to question the mayor about the police department problems and officer being arrested His (sic) raised the issue to the city commission in hopes of improving the police department. The mayor spoke out for a plan of action.
The city commission voted to take on a review of the police department based on mayor Rodriguez's initiative. That review has yet to get started.
Today mayor Rodriguez is paying for standing up for his community and the citizens of Boynton Beach.
Mayor Rodriguez is innocent of all of these charges and will enter a plea of not guilty and will vigorously fight these charges."
NewsChannel 5's Dan Krauth and the wptv.com web team contributed to this story
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