Cash missing from troubled city's evidence locker

Oct. 30, 2013 at 5:17 PM

SWEETWATER, Fla., Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Federal authorities have discovered thousands of dollars missing from a Florida police department's evidence lockup, the troubled city's new mayor said.

Sweetwater Mayor Jose M. Diaz said Tuesday the FBI alerted him to the missing funds. Diaz said he's not aware if federal agents have made any arrests relating to the stolen cash, The Miami Herald reported.

Former Mayor Manny Marono was arrested along with two lobbyists this month on federal corruption charges.

Several members of the city's police force have been fired, resigned or suspended for various corruption-related reasons, including an ongoing investigation into an alleged scheme in which officers funneled towing business to a local company Marono owned in exchange for kickbacks.

Catalino Rodriguez, the officer who was in charge of the evidence locker until he resigned the force after being named a city commissioner, denied taking the cash but said two unidentified officers and another city worker had entered the evidence locker in early October and removed items.

Rodriguez said at the time he thought the employees were acting on orders from Marono.

"There were drugs, money, weapons in there," Rodríguez said. "If thousands of dollars are missing, maybe they should investigate why evidence was removed from the room that day."

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