Rene Pedrosa, the former Miami mayoral aide already accused of groping a teen boy at City Hall and sending him a lewd photo, is facing additional charges — this time in federal court.
Federal prosecutors have charged Pedrosa, more than one month after he was first arrested by Miami police on state charges.
Pedrosa appeared Thursday in South Florida federal court, and a judge ordered he be held without bond at Miami’s Federal Detention Center. Pedrosa’s defense attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.
A judge will consider a bond during a hearing on April 2. Pedrosa is being charged federally with production of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The federal allegations, according to a criminal complaint released on Thursday afternoon, stem from the same incident involving the teenage boy. The case could be taken over completely by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the state case dropped.
“Our prosecutors will review the federal filing and make a decision regarding the state case,” said Paula McMahon, a spokeswoman for the Broward State Attorney’s Office, which has been specially assigned to handle the state case in Miami-Dade.
Last month, Miami police accused Pedrosa of using his position as a high-ranking aide to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to lure a 16-year-old to City Hall, promising him a job designing a web page. Pedrosa groped the teen and tried to kiss him inside a City Hall conference room, according to an arrest report.
A few days later, Pedrosa sent the boy a message via the Whatsapp messenger, asking for a photo. The teen sent a nude photo of himself by a bathtub, according to a police report. Pedrosa responded by sending him a photo of an erect penis, according to the police report.
According to the police report, Pedrosa also sent text messages to the teen. One said: “I’m dying to sleep with you, I’m home by myself, You can come over, It was you and I would have hoy foreplay” (it’s unclear if there was a typo in the message).
The teen responded: “Rene I can’t do that, also knowing I’m a minor just made me even worse so yeah.”
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In late January, officers raided Pedrosa’s home and seized seven electronic devices, which were later analyzed for explicit material.
According to the federal complaint, an FBI agent later interviewed the teen and showed him seven photos found on Pedrosa’s phone, some of which depicted genitalia. The teen acknowledged he’d sent the photos to the mayoral aide at “Pedrosa’s request,” the complaint said.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office is handling the state charges after Miami prosecutors recused themselves from the case. Sources have told the Miami Herald that Pedrosa, called the office of Miami-Dade State Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office in a failed attempt to speak with her — and even sought legal advice.
Broward prosecutors have yet to formally file state charges against Pedrosa, and an arraignment has been pushed back to May. Many South Florida state court hearings have been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus oubreak.
Pedrosa, 48, was a longtime Spanish-language TV and radio reporter, most recently working for América TeVé-Channel 41, a Spanish-language television station based in Hialeah Gardens that covers news across Miami-Dade County. Suarez hired Pedrosa in early 2019 to handle his public communications.
Miami Herald staff writers Jay Weaver and Charles Rabin contributed to this report.