Ex-Miami Beach official charged with unlawful compensation

MIAMI (AP) — A former Miami Beach building official has turned himself in to face criminal charges for allegedly accepting favors from the owners of a hotel undergoing renovation.

The Miami Herald reported that Mariano Fernandez was charged Tuesday with unlawful compensation. Fernandez’s lawyer says the facts don’t support a criminal charge.

Miami-Dade prosecutors say Fernandez used his authority to smooth permits and inspections for a renovation project at the Spanish-owned RUI Plaza Hotel between October 2013 and June 2016. In exchange, authorities say Fernandez solicited free or deeply discounted rates at RIU properties in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Prosecutors are also filing charges against two senior RIU executives. RIU owns more than 100 hotels in 19 countries.

Fernandez was fired last year by Miami Beach while under investigation.

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