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State starts probe of resigning Sweetwater commissioner

Commissioner Jose Diaz set to resign on New Year's Eve

SWEETWATER, Fla. – Sweetwater Commissioner Jose Diaz announced this month that he's resigning his elected office effective Saturday because, as he put it, "My family and I have decided we need to keep more time together."

Just as Diaz, who also is a former mayor, prepares to step down from his fourth term in office that was set to end in May, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun a probe into his actions as an elected official, Local 10 News has confirmed.

Diaz has defended himself against alleged conflicts of interest in the past, including the fact that he signed a city resolution granting a variance for construction in his own backyard, construction that a court has since deemed unlawful.

There have also been questions about his hiring of the major law firm Holland & Knight to represent him even as the firm has represented developers before the Sweetwater Commission.

The city also improperly hired special counsel to handle a legal fight pertaining to Diaz's residence, according to Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said.

"He's got huge conflicts of interest stemming from the violations at his house," Lopez said.  "I think the heat just got to him and that's why he's resigning."

His next-door neighbor, Lucy Castro, has been complaining about Diaz for years and welcomes attention from law enforcement.  

"We want to get justice in this case," Castro said. "I think he's resigning because he has lots of problems."

Local 10 News contacted Diaz for comment, but he didn't reply.