The mayor of the city of Hileah, FL, is being sued by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (Commission) for attempting to pay a $4,000 fine in pennies and nickels. Not only did the Commission not accept the coins, they also doubled the fine.
In July, the Commission ruled that mayor Carlos Hernandez had not been truthful about his income and about usurious interest rates charged on a loan from a jewelry salesman who was later jailed for an illegal pyramid scheme. In November, Hernandez sent a truck carrying 28 buckets filled with 360,000 coins to pay the fine. The Commission refused to accept the coins and threatened to call the police if the delivery man did not take the buckets away. The fine was doubled when the Commission ruled that the mayor knew only checks were accepted and that the mayor intentionally broke the rule. In a statement, the Commission said that that mayor’s behavior was “commercially unreasonable and contemptuous and therefore the coins were rejected” and the fine doubled.
Joseph Centorino of the Commission said, “…this is not something the public should have to pay our staff to count the money and deal with. We have taken the only other avenue we have.” The Commission filed a small claims complaint against the mayor for non-compliance. Mayor Hernandez said, “We went to pay with United States currency, but they didn’t accept the payment. They can go to court, but they will have to explain why a public organization does not accept this country’s currency.”