Manuel Marono
Manuel Marono (J. Albert Diaz)

The former mayor of Sweetwater, Manuel Maroño, was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in federal prison for receiving $45,000 in a pay-to-play grant scheme.

Maroño pleaded guilty in November to an honest services conspiracy charge, admitting splitting the bribe with lobbyist Jorge Forte.

The men were caught in a sting operation in which government agents set up a fake federal grant program. Maroño and Forte allegedly agreed to promote the program for economic development after they were paid.

Forte is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 6. Maroño is expected to surrender March 31.

U.S. District Judge William Zloch in Fort Lauderdale wondered aloud before sentencing whether 40 months in prison sent a strong enough message about public corruption.

Maroño, who apologized in court for his actions, could have faced up to 46 months under advisory sentencing guidelines.