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Politically active Hialeah pain clinic owner to face campaign-related felony

A politically active Hialeah pain clinic owner will surrender Friday afternoon on allegations that he engineered illegal campaign contributions to candidates across the state, The Miami Herald has learned.

Investigators believe chiropractor Mark Cereceda, 44, made his clinic employees donate to candidates, then paid them back in cash and checks for their contributions.

Cereceda’s clinic, which specializes in treating traffic accident victims, and the man’s brother will also be charged with a felony count relating to illegal contributions. Cereceda’s defense attorney did not return a phone call for comment Friday morning.

By Florida law, an individual or company can only donate $500 to each candidate.

Investigators believe he got his employees to contribute more than $25,000 to candidates, including Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, State Sen. Joe Negron and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa.

Investigators do not believe any of the candidates knew of the illegal contributions.

Miami-Dade police public corruption detectives began investigating after news broke last year that a Hialeah-branch county court judge had penned a letter to state authorities — on official letterhead — asking that Cereceda’s company be reinstated.

The company, Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, had let its business license lapse. The Florida Division of Corporations treated the judge’s letter as a court order, and reinstated the company for free.

The Miami-Dade judge, Ana Maria Pando, was investigated for a slew of ethics violations, a probe eventually dropped when voters booted her from office and she agreed not to run again.