Yesterday, Homestead, Florida Mayor Steve Bateman was arrested and is being accussed by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle of lining his pockets in a pay-for-play scheme. He was officially charged with accepting illegal compensation as well as several misdemeanors, including unregistered lobbying. Rundle asserts Bateman was paid $125 per hour to act as a consultant to Community Health Care of South Florida (CHCSF) while the company was building the Children's Crisis Center in Homestead and needed the county's approval for a sewer line connection. CHCSF was frustrated with construction delays, mostly related to the City of Homestead which is the key reason for hiring Bateman in February. The complaint states Bateman never revealed to other council members he was working for CHCSF as a paid consultant.
"It's another very sad day for the people of Miami-Dade County," Fernandez Rundle told reporters. "At no time did Bateman disclose that these contacts were done for a private employer. That should have been done."
Bateman's attorney Ken Kuehne said, "He looks forward to his vindication. He has served the community for many years in an honest, dependable manner."
This follows the arrests of Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi by the FBI for accepting several thousand dollars so long as they supported federal grant applications for which were never to be used for their intended purposes. Both mayors claim their innocence, however have been suspended from their respective offices.
Also, in May, former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife, Raizi were arrested for evading federal income taxes by not reporting high-interest loans and other business income. Hialeah has elections coming up in November with a Libertarian in the race, Marcos Miralles, which may help begin the clean up Hialeah desperately needs for its local council as it has been wrought with scandal.
Steve Bateman was reportedly paid $3,625 for his consulting work at CHSCF and according to the State Attorney's Office, CHSCF was assured by Bateman there would be no conflict of interest. The company had authorized for Bateman to be paid $120,000 over the course of a year.