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Mayor Joe Coviello to pay fine pleads no contest to violating state’s Sunshine Law

Mayor Coviello
Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 11:34:23-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — UPDATE (11:16 AM)-- Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello pleaded No Contest today during a hearing this morning.

Mayor Coviello will be required to pay a $100 fine.

The judge withheld adjudication.

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Mayor Joe Coviello has been investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and could face a civil infraction for violating the state’s Sunshine Law.

The investigative report by FDLE focuses on four specific areas of inquiry surrounding incidents that occurred in December of 2019.

This investigation surrounded four (4) specific areas of inquiry. The quid-pro-quo allegations involving Cape Coral Mayor Joseph ‘Joe’ Coviello; the criminal allegations made by Cape Coral Finance Director Victoria Bateman pertaining to the procurement practices of Cape Coral City Manager, John Szerlag, and Cape Coral Business Manager, Bernard “Jay” Murphy; (and) the allegation that Bernard “Jay” Murphy was paid under the table to steer contracts to the particular vendor; and the allegation that Cape Coral Budget Administrator Chris Phillips filed a fraudulent insurance claim with the City of Cape Coral.
FDLE report

Sunshine Law says these conversations should have been open to the public, and reasonable notice of meetings should have been given.

The documents indicate that Mayor Coviello had completed the training on Sunshine Law, and FDLE ask the State Attorney to consider that when making a charging decision.

This is not a criminal charge but is a civil infraction in which he could face a monetary fine.

An arraignment hearing has been set for October 6th at 8:00 am.

Fox 4 has reached out to the City of Cape Coral and Mayor Coviello for comment.

The mayor responded to our email with the statement below.

I’m aware of the filing and understand the matter is non-criminal and considered a suspected infraction. I will respond accordingly.