MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez Tuesday, three weeks after he turned himself in to authorities after being charged with two felony corruption counts.
Prosecutors charged Martinez, who represents District 11, with unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation.
Investigators say Martinez received money from a Miami-Dade business owner in exchange for crafting legislation that would have helped that business avoid several code violations.
The allegations date back to when Martinez was re-elected to the county commission back in 2016, following a four-year hiatus from the body, court documents said.
Martinez “knowingly and intentionally accepted money from Jorge Negrin, the owner and operator of Extra Supermarket… in consideration for Martinez using his official position and office to assist with code enforcement fines and fees,” investigators wrote in an arrest affidavit.
“These violations constitute felonies in the second and third degree, and it is in the best interest of the residents of Miami-Dade County that Martinez be immediately suspended from the public office that he holds,” Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, said. “The Governor will appoint a commissioner to fill the District 11 seat in the coming weeks.”
Martinez, a former Miami-Dade police officer, has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the charges are politically-motivated.
Martinez released a statement to Local 10 News Tuesday afternoon:
Although the Governor’s decision is a disappointment, the Commissioner and his supporters were expecting this development and recognize that this is a part of the process when even completely unfounded charges are brought against public officials.
Commissioner Martinez, his legal team and supporters will focus on clearing his name and fighting these baseless allegations, arising from his work as a consultant when he was a private citizen and not an elected official.
The Commissioner offers his support to whomever the Governor decides to appoint to the Miami-Dade County District 11 seat. The most important issue continues to be providing services and protecting the well-being of the residents of the District 11 and of our entire community.
Commissioner Martinez looks forward to being completely vindicated and cleared of any wrongdoing. He has devoted his entire adult life to serving the best interests of the public and he is humbled by the outpouring of support and confidence from the people of District 11 and throughout Miami-Dade County.Statement on behalf Commissioner Joe Martinez