The arrest of Marc Cereceda, a politically active chiropractor and pain clinic owner in Hialeah, for engineering illegal campaign contributions to candidates across the state, including Senators Don Gaetz and Joe Negron, is spooking elected officials throughout Florida.
Along with his brother, Cereceda was charged with a felony and one misdemeanor relating to illegal contributions. Charges also were brought against Mark Cereceda’s clinic, Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, which specializes in treating traffic accident victims.
Investigators believe Cereceda got his more than 30 employees to contribute more than $25,000 to candidates between 2010 and 2012, according to an arrest warrant. “Most, if not all, of the employees did not have any knowledge of who the candidates were that they contributed to,” according to the arrest warrant by Miami-Dade Detective Joaquin Garcia and State Attorney investigator Bob Fielder.
In addition to Gaetz and Negron, State Representatives Katie Edwards, Eddy Gonzalez, and Carlos Trujillo also received donations from Cereceda.
Investigators do not believe any of the candidates knew of the illegal contributions.
The Cerecedas secured the “straw donors” as an “ongoing practice and pattern of concealing the sources of illegal campaign monies,” according to the warrant signed off on by public corruption prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen.
The Miami Herald‘s David Ovalle has more on why investigators first targeted Cereceda here.