The Accusations Against Boynton Beach Mayor Jose Rodriguez
We made a brief post last night announcing the arrest of Boynton Beach Mayor Jose Rodriguez on three criminal charges -- including one felony -- and now that we've had a chance to check out the probable-cause affidavit, we'll let you know what happened.
According to the report from the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office, Rodriguez's wife, Sarah Marquez, called Boynton Beach Police Chief Matt Immler on August 8, saying she "feared for her safety" because of Rodriguez.
In an interview, investigators say Marquez claimed Rodriguez and his son had hit one of their juvenile family members (her name and relationship to the family are redacted from the documents) and said Rodriguez made "an inappropriate sexual comment" to her.
The investigation was classified as a "police assist" and was closed pending any new information -- until someone made a public records request for the interview on November 9.
That records request brought the interview to the attention of a Boynton Beach police sergeant in the department's Special Victim's Unit, who reopened the case and got the Department of Children and Families involved.
As of November 9, Marquez and the unidentified family member were out of state, and police opened a criminal investigation into Rodriguez.
Immler said Rodriguez called him the next week, then hung up on him.
The next day, Rodriguez called back.
"Chief Immler stated that during that call, Mayor Rodriguez invoked his status as the Mayor and told the chief to stop pursuing the criminal investigation and to stop trying to contact his wife," the documents state. "Chief Immler stated that Mayor Rodriguez screamed so loudly on the phone that two majors in the office... could also hear Rodriguez yelling at him."
The chief wasn't about to quit the investigation, but the next day, he got an email from Marquez, who "demanded" that the cops stop contacting her.
Immler still planned on doing his job and investigating whether a crime had occurred but told investigators there was "no doubt that Mayor Jose Rodriguez was using his position as Mayor to intimidate him and the police department into stopping the investigation of the Mayor."
Interim City Manager Lori LaVerriere told investigators that she also got a call from Rodriguez, saying Immler and his detectives didn't know how to conduct an investigation and also that Immler was a "lying piece of shit."
LaVerriere also explained to investigators that according to the city charter, the mayor is supposed to go to the city manager with complaints about the police department and that Rodriguez "acted contrary to the city charter" by phoning up Immler.
Before all this had erupted, LaVerriere said Rodriguez told her she'd "probably" end up as the permanent city manager, which the commission is scheduled to address in February.
The affidavit states that after Rodriguez went to LaVerriere a few more times after the incident -- including allegedly telling her "[s]omething needs to be done" about the police department -- LaVerriere told investigators she was "certain" about what Rodriguez meant about all that.
"LaVerriere stated that Mayor Rodriguez was using his position of having a vote for her as the permanent City Manager (or not) to influence her to intervene in the police investigation and assist him in firing Chief Immler," the report says.
On January 18, the State Attorney's Office got back the results of the DCF investigation and the Boynton Beach police investigation into the original abuse allegations -- they were both closed cases, as the police department's investigation closed due to Rodriguez's son and the alleged victim refusing to cooperate.
Rodriguez denied to investigators that he tried to stop the investigation, but the state attorney's office still found probable cause to arrest him on three charges -- unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior (the felony), as well as misdemeanor counts of solicitation to commit unlawful disclosure of confidential criminal information and obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Rodriguez voluntarily turned himself in and was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on $8,000 bond about 90 minutes after being booked.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.
- Second Zika Case Reported in Broward, Web Thinks Virus Is a Conspiracy
- 3,200 Racing Greyhounds in Florida Could Retire if Law Passes, Dog Advocate Predicts
- Today's New Hampshire Race Is Vital for Jeb Bush — and It's All About Florida