Alleged Corruption Concerns Prompt Coral Gables’ Appointment of Former US Marshall as New City Manager

Javier Baños

Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider

Amid mounting concerns over alleged corruption within the city, Coral Gables witnessed yet another significant transition on Tuesday as the Commission appointed Amos Rojas Jr., former head of the US Marshall’s Office for South Florida during both the Obama and Trump administrations, as its new City Manager. This move, occurring less than two weeks after Peter Iglesias’s departure, occurred with the familiar split vote of 3-2, with Commissioners Fernandez, Castro, and Menendez ultimately tipping the scales.

The decision unfolded unexpectedly during discussions initiated by Vice Mayor Anderson and Mayor Vince Lago regarding the potential for a nationwide search to fill the manager position. Commissioner Fernandez seized the opportunity to propose Rojas, a suggestion that Commissioner Menendez swiftly supported, citing concerns over city corruption as a pivotal factor in endorsing Rojas, who agreed to operate under the same salary terms as his predecessor.

Prior to his appointment as US Marshal, Rojas, Jr. served as Deputy Director of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office’s South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force between 2012 and 2014. From 2003 to 2011, Rojas, Jr. was the Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Regional Operations Center for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). His responsibilities included leading investigations in four counties, as well as serving on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Before joining the FDLE, Rojas, Jr.’s career in law enforcement started with roles as an Investigative Supervisor in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and his service on the Huntsville (Alabama), South Miami, and Miami-Dade Police Departments.

While the wisdom of this decision and Rojas’s suitability for the role remain subjects of debate, his appointment may be the transitional figure the city needs to bring confidence back into government. The installation of a new Sheriff at the helm, almost literally, may offer solace to residents apprehensive about their interests being overshadowed by developer priorities, potentially reinvigorating community bonds and preserving quality of life. Yet, this shift has also stoked apprehensions among certain interest groups, which remained palpable following the recent meeting.

The decision to hire Rojas seems to have shaken the confidence of Mayor Lago. Lago has seen his power and influence wither after the most recent election. In an effort to regain his footing, Lago has initiated new political campaigns and tactics, including launching attacks against Menendez and advocating for policy changes through referendums. These reactions, however, seem to contrast starkly with the more strategic and considered approaches of his opponents.

As Mayor Lago faces scrutiny over his confrontational style and perceived neglect of his constituents’ needs, the city of Coral Gables stands at a crossroads. The appointment of Rojas as City Manager offers a glimmer of hope for those seeking a return to principled governance and a focus on community welfare. It also serves as crystalizing proof that the triumvirate are presently the true center of power of the City Beautiful.


41 thoughts on “Alleged Corruption Concerns Prompt Coral Gables’ Appointment of Former US Marshall as New City Manager

  1. … the Rojas appointment was surprising and rushed, but it was not improper, thoughtless or illegal… the last two city managers were NOT hired by a national search… rather by vote of the commission… the only process or protocol that matters by city charter is that a majority chooses the manager… lago and anderson are full of hipocrisy on the process issue… the vote is the process… people ask what corruption?? well- lago intimidating people in person and in texts like a mobster… lago renting a property to a developer seeking permits from comission… lago helping de la portilla, indicted for money laundering … lago attending formula 1 as an unreported gift … and the list goes on… us marshall is what CG needs

  2. “I am SHOCKED!! SHOCKED to learn corruption in Coral Gables!!!” Planning and Zoning Board?
    Robert Behar? Alex Cuelo?

  3. What a heartbreaking transformation to take, from “The City Beautiful” to “The City Corrupt”. While appointing a former US Marshall may sound like a good move, the operative word here is “former”. The second issue is qualifications, or lack of experience in running a municipality (none of this is a besmirch on MR Rojas, whom I am sure is an outstanding individual). On the surface, this sounds like yet another ill-conceived and ignorant decision. What this city might need (and the only details I know is what I am reading herein) is a full-blown special counsel investigation. City Hall should openly address all of the residents questions. City Hall must know that if it is not careful, enough residents might complain to the Office of Executive Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (Mr Mark Glass, Commissioner – (850) 410-7438), to request such a thing. This city has been a shining light for decades. There should be no patience for corruption.

  4. To ACS:

    You and all the other critics of Commissioners Fernandez, Castro, and Menendez have been living,
    very much at home, in the sewer, far below the City.

    The good residents of the City are far above you and them.

  5. Oh Mr. Bathroom how we need to flush this triumvirate!!!
    Recall Kirk
    Recall Fernandez
    Recall Castro (…what’s in s name)

  6. Those who complain about Mr. Rojas are on the gravy train and want to keep it going.

  7. Excellent article Javier! 👏 And another great step in a positive direction in cleaning up the Coral Gables corruption thanks to the tremendous efforts of Commissioners Fernandes, Castro, & Menendez!🙌

  8. Ariel, the orchestrator of this charade, is taking the banana republic dictator handbook to the letter: high moral and ethics statements, and then at the first opportunity, he self approve a massive salary increase, or he breaks all the reasonable rules to hire a senior employee of any organization. If you look to any of those dictators: Somoza, Papa Doc, Chavez, Castro, Noriega and so on, this is what you find: high purpose statements, personal enrichment, and their cronies in key positions. Coral Gables is becoming a Banana Republic.

  9. As a Director for Netflix I am introducing our new series Fernandez and his rubber stamps, series plays Tuesday on Gables TV. Wake up folks

  10. Everybody keeps talking about “corruption.” What “corruption”? Please share without hyperbole or opinion. Thanks.

  11. Great Choice! Having Mr Rojas who is a seasoned professional in city hall. Corruption fades when the corruptors are outnumbered. Thank you commissioner’s Fernandez, Castro &, Menendez, your help in ridding our city of corrupt politicians, we the people are tiered of ego money hungry politicians.keep it up we’re all behind your efforts.

  12. The following says it all. “A lot of the things the mayor said were accurate, said Commissioner Melissa Castro. “But given the circumstances that we’re in, I do not trust him. I’m not going to sabotage this opportunity. So, I am still seconding this motion given the past history of what’s happened.”

    Fellow residents, let’s face it, we have reached a new low, actually, subterranean low, in our city, no matter who you support or not. The above is just a sliver of the gutter-level trash that has been going on in our City Hall recently. It has no place anywhere, even less in our city. I wish the new manager well, as he is in a real pickle, not having the support of the full commission and having been appointed under circumstances that clearly do not bode well for him as he was not allowed to truly show why he was the best candidate in direct competition with similar professionals. Not sure this has happened in the past in our city. The selection process could have been handled in a more dignified and professional manner. All of us are losers. No winners on this one. A major “egg-in-our-face” embarrassment for the so-called City Beautiful, one that seems to be turning uglier by the day, in full and unquestioned emulation of such “great” examples as City of Miami, City of Hialeah, City of Doral, et al. Shameful, disgusting and unbecoming of the elected leadership we deserve and merit. Not sure we have learned the lesson yet. Mr. Rojas, Godspeed.

  13. The chaos caused by Fernandez and Castro has to stop. You may like the political drama now, but this lack of stability and novice leadership will affect all of our home values and services moving forward. We have to get back on track.

    Leonard- would you consider starting a petition process required to recall these commissioners for incompetence? I think we’d need about 2500 signatures.

  14. A sheriff as city manager? It is not qualified just on the résumé alone. Wrong candidate for the wrong position.
    If the city wishes to fight corruption then perhaps a special investigator/counsel position may be appropriate, but even then an ex-police may be used to find evidence, you will still need a lawyer to bring corrupt politicians to justice.

  15. Appointment hopefully will help, but only when Menendez and his 2 sidekicks leave will we start to see improvement

  16. So the trio of Commissioners want to end corruption, yet they just acted like corrupt people by installing whoever they want, without due process. This person may be the right person, but not like this. It erodes the confidence the public has in our voting commission.

  17. Alleged, but corruption does exist. Sometimes it is good to think outside the box. City managers of the past did not go to management school. Hiring someone who is not an entrenched bureaucrat does not jeopardize the administrative functions of the city and it is just a matter of time that Mr Rojas will learn on the job. He may not be beholden to anyone. Following the process of the past will only bring you the usual drop outs from the City of Miami.

  18. As far as I am concerned, nothing less that a carefully orchestrated coup d’etat occurred. It is shameful what the Three Amigos are doing to our city. And you, Mr. Banos, are nothing short of a mouth-piece for these three; wonder what your hidden agenda is. Your articles are not even slightly camouflaged to appear to be fair reporting. Contemptible!

  19. So our commission has no interest in negotiating salary of a newly installed manager with no experience of managing city projects. As a former law enforcement officer familiar with the US Marshalls I know assignments are different. Due diligence by the commission is pathetic with little concern of what we pay in taxes.

  20. Let me make this clear, Mr. Iglesias was the “left over” City Manager from the Valdes Fauli administration. It is SHAMEFUL what is going on in our City Beautiful Government. Mr. Baños ran for Commissioner & was not elected and now the “Triunvirato” (Menendez, Fernandez & Castro) have an Agenda from the time they were elected. Baños & Menendez want to be Mayor with the help of the other two cronies. I live in the Gables since 1980 and in Miami since 1960, what kind of City are we trying to become?? Mr. Merrick must be jumping in his grave because what is going on in his beloved Coral Gables! Everyone that works in the City including the Commission work for the residents of Coral Gables, we Vote, we pay Taxes and most of us try to contribute to the quality of life of all that call the Gables HOME!!! The personal attacks on Lago , Anderson and the City Staff must stop, are we loosing our Humanity, what happened to Respect????? Trash belongs in the trash can not in City Hall. I have nothing against Mr. Rojas but the “hunt” for a new City Manager should not have been so hastily done, our City & it’s residents deserve & demand better than anything goes “Because We Have Three Votes Against Two” type of government!!!!!!

  21. Halleluyah… I see Devine Intervention going on IN EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, AND it’s looking like it’s happening ALL AT ONCE…. DEVINE INTERVENTION like only our Creator is possible of doing and will…

  22. As property tax and budget decisions are being made, I want those who are handling the spending of my tax dollars to reduce the millage rate. The bickering that I saw at last year’s commission / budget meeting which increased the millage rate was sad. I was forced to pay more tax money for things I do not want. The city needs to focus on financial responsibility and shave off fat from the budget. I like servant leadership format, not leaders who are putting forth their pet projects under the guise of city business. Servient form of leadership is important to me. I will vote for leaders who are humble and can enumerate all of the ways that they saved the city money and cut spending. I would give extra points to those who can address the pension fund. I do not aim to vote for those who simply recount many projects (that are not crucial to city function) for the sake of bragging about accomplishments. If this gentleman can do his part in reducing the budget and millage rate, that would be good. However, I wonder if correct protocols are being followed for this and other commission decisions.

  23. This is how the totalitarian governments of the Soviet Union and Cuba came to power. They convinced a populace that their governments were corrupt and they were the saviors of the people. So, the people supported them at a time of need, only to be deceived shortly thereafter. They spread their narratives and people bought in to the messaging. This is the very same thing happening here in the City Beautiful, and Gables Insider is KFC’s manifesto. Rojas’s selection was not a transparent process and El Comandante Fernandez used his typical deceptive tactics to manipulate us into thinking this man would challenge the cesspool of corruption that is Coral Gables, despite his inability to defend these claims of corruption. Will this be another Salerno? Will El Comandante Fernandez initiate the collapse of democracy in Coral Gables? This, and more, on the next episode of “the Coral Gables Commission!”

  24. Under Lago and the Rhonda the Reformer who joined the dark side after her election this new City Manager is a breath of fresh air. Lago is under a cloud of nefarious self dealing business deals using his city connections and I hope a real reformer challenges Wicked Rhonda when she is up for election. Kirk is an opportunist but went where the winds of change have gone and we need to support him for reelection against Lago’s Lackey.

  25. Let me get this straight, the City Mayor & Commissioners at the helm of alleged, no-bid public property sales and zoning corruption, just randomly decided to appoint a unvetted, new City Manager with a “knee jerk” reaction to address the concerns of corruption?

  26. I try to stay away from commenting on issues publicly. However, for those that say there is corruption in city hall I say prove it and it shall be dealt with according to the law. The current political environment in Coral Gables is the worse I have ever seen it. Personal agendas and vendettas should be kept out of good public policy. The citizens of Coral Gables will not tolerate this level politics.

  27. How is it that a former US Marshal is qualified to manage a city? Is corruption fighting a CM job responsibility? Aren’t there agencies dedicate to rooting out public corruption like the FBI, MDPD, CGPD and the State Attorney/US Attorney to prosecute. This hurried “selection” without a formal skills assessment/vetting seems to describe a corrupted process on its own. As a tax payer – I expect more from our elected leaders.

  28. What is was surprising to me watching the video from last commission meeting was the way this candidate was selected. No previous interview and discussions about the job at hand by all city officials. No detailed discussion of the job description. No consideration to other qualified individuals to select the best. All expected recruiting process were ignored. It was clearly a plan generated by Ariel, Melissa and Kirk to take over and do wahetever they want with the 3 votes. Is a shame what is happening in the CG commissioning discussions after the last election. Is a mess.

  29. I think there is a perceived level of corruption in Coral gables due to the explosion of construction and developement in the area..Definitely the hiring of Peter Iglesias,one of the most despised men in the county,wasn’t helping..Iglesias earned this ire when he was head of the building dept 20 years ago..It was extremely ill conceived by Mayor Lagos to hire Iglesias because he didn’t realize what a fire storm this would have created..Iglesias had zero training as a manager and his friction full confrontational style with every human that walks the planet wasn’t helpful…You have to know how to delegate…People in law enforcement have a military style of delegation and consequences which I love because its effective and efficient..There are a lot of lazy employees in the city that need a kick in the behind …I’ve seen it first hand when i have gone to Public works dept and seen the herds of slow fat people talking about their weekends while I waited in their “waiting room”..Hopefully the new marshall in town will “Inspire” these metabolically challenged people to burn some calories and earn their paychecks….

  30. Can someone please share an example or two of the corruption that occurred? Or links to a couple of news articles? Are rules being interpreted differently for favored individuals or entities (cronyism), was there outright fraud or theft — what actually happened?

  31. Low representation in previous election has created a new establishment that appears to be operating without regard to Florida’ Sunshine Law.
    Perhaps Mr Rojas can look into that as well??

  32. Low representation in previous election has created a new establishment that appears to be operating without regard to Florida’ Sunshine Law.
    Perhaps Mr Rojas can look into that as well??

  33. Lack of representation in previous election has created a new establishment that appears to be operating without regard to Florida’ Sunshine Law.
    Perhaps Mr Rojas can look into that as well??

  34. I watched the recent commission meeting on video reference hiring Mr. Rojas-as he agreed to take CM position only until the next election while allowing time for a national search. So now we have 2 interim CM’s counting the more experienced Mr. Parjus? For the record new commission voting 90% of the time has been a 5-0 consensus and split 3-2 on major issues such as salary raises, annexation, etc per city clerk stats. On salaries how does a CM make almost 4X more than his bosses on the commission? Either CM is overpaid or commish are underpaid, there a petition out to make any future commission raises at will a voter referendum decision.

  35. Amos Rojas is THE ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS!

    As far as I am concerned, the appointment of Amos Rojas, as Coral Gables City Manager, is DIVINE INTERVENTION.


    Jackson Rip Holmes

  36. Corruption? City’s new name is Corrupt Gables, everyone knows that. There’s more weeding out needed at the old Corrupt City Hall, this goes deep. Good luck Marshall Rojas!

  37. Yes. We need someone with the background to rip out the corruption in the city while addressing the needs of the residents and not of the other corrupt officials as Lago, Anderson, and perhaps some of the staff.

    Enough is enough. Let’s bring honest government back and I hope our new City manager, Mr. Rojas, can look at the undue influence that developers have had with the city. Follow the Money. He knows what to do.

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