Former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño sentenced

Maroño scheduled to surrender on March 31

MIAMI – Former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño was sentenced to 40 months in prison Thursday.

The judge could have given him up to five years.

Early Thursday morning, Maroño and a large group of supporters entered the courthouse, hoping to receive the least amount of time under sentencing guidelines.

The judge, however, calling public corruption a cancer on society, sentenced Maroño to 40 months.

"Today is a new day, a new beginning in my life," Maroño said as he left the courthouse. "The judge has spoken."

Maroño and and lobbyist Jorge Forte were charged in August with taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks.

According to the complaints, lobbyist Richard Candia introduced Maroño to undercover FBI agents who posed as the owners of a Chicago-based grant administration business. The agents told Candia they could get federal grant money with the help of elected officials.

Maroño helped pass a resolution allowing the agents' company to apply for federal grant money on behalf of the city of Sweetwater, according to the complaint. Maroño and Forte then received $40,000 as payment. The two received another $20,000 by introducing the agents to other elected officials.

Maroño also lied to an undercover FBI agent posing as an auditor when asked about the company, according to the complaints.

Maroño is scheduled to surrender on March 31st.