Miami News

The confident Commissioner Joe Martinez says he will “just deal with it” for now but later “we’ll talk”

Joe Martinez was released after he turned himself in on Tuesday after being briefly jailed for corruption charges

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez surrendered on Tuesday, 30th August, to face criminal charges against him. The arrest warrant revealed the Miami-Dade County commissioner took $15,000 to sponsor a law to back a shopping plaza that faced continuous fines for code violations. Commissioner Joe Martinez was charged for getting 'unlawful compensation' in this matter.

What happened with Joe Martinez?

Martinez, who’s facing a possible suspension by the Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, has already claimed that he’s innocent. The Miami-Dade County commissioner lashed out at the county’s prosecutors and stated the case was “politically motivated.”

After the commissioner was arrested, he spent five hours in jail, before posting bond and walking free to await trial. When he stepped out of custody, Joe Martinez refused to answer the questions asked by the swarm of reporters.

Before stepping into his black SUV, where his wife Ana waited for him, he told the reporters he’d talk to them the day he’d get a chance. But until then, he must first deal with the situation.

What was Martinez accused of?

Martinez, a former Miami-Dade police lieutenant, is considering a run for county sheriff, a position that will be reinstated in 2024. Between 2000 and 2012, he served on the District 11 commission, representing a large swath of West Miami-Dade County, and was re-elected in August 2016. 

According to investigators, Martinez wanted to use his power to form a legislation to benefit the owner of a shopping plaza and a supermarket.

The legislation was never passed and wasn’t even considered by the county commission. However, according to Florida's unlawful compensation law, prosecutors only need to show that the public official's "exercise of influence" for illegal pay was attempted, not accomplished.

"In its most basic form, this case involves a public official abusing his position," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Miami-Dade inspector General Felix Jimenez and Fernandez Rundle also defended the time it took to wrap up the probe, which began with an anonymous tip in 2017.

This case and accusation entail countless witness statements, and a thorough analysis of hundreds of financial records to gain enough evidence or proof for the claims. Moreover, authorities came across illegal donations and tips made to Martinez during these 5 years.

Out on bond

On Tuesday August 30th Joe Martinez left Miami Dade Corrections at around 2PM but did not say much to the press except that he would talk to the media when he can but that in the mean time he needed to just “deal with it”. He reiterated this by saying “We’ll talk. Vamos a hablar”.

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