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Third Florida mayor this month arrested on corruption charges

Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman is the third Florida mayor this month to be arrested on corruption charges.

By KRISTEN BUTLER, UPI.com
Third Florida mayor this month arrested on corruption charges
Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman. (Credit Steven Bateman via Facebook)

Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman on Wednesday became the third mayor in Miami-Dade County to be arrested on corruption charges in the span of a month.

Bateman, 58, was being paid $125 per hour as a consultant to a health care company seeking city and county approval for a sewer connection to a proposed Homestead clinic.

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Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Bateman was lobbying his own city officials without disclosing his financial relationship with the non-profit firm, Community Health Care of South Florida Inc. (CHI).

Though Bateman received $3,625 from CHI, the company had allegedly authorized $120,000 for Bateman for a year of work.

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He is charged with two felonies for accepting illegal compensation as well as several misdemeanors, including unregistered lobbying. Bateman, who is currently running for reelection, has been suspended by Governor Rick Scott until the charges are resolved.

Earlier this month, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono were arrested in an FBI sting operation on federal corruption charges.

Authorities say Pizzi and Marono accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for supporting federal grant applications that were not to be used for their intended purposes. Pizzi and Marono, both suspended from office, maintain their innocence.

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Prior to that, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina was arrested along with his wife, Raizi, on tax evasion charges. Robaina, who once ran unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade mayor, is accused of failing to report income on business endeavors including high-interest loans.

Bateman's attorney, Ben Kuehne, said his client "looks forward to holding his head up high to continuing to serve his community and to obtain his ultimate vindication."

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