In the two years since he graduated law school, Juan Mercado said he has prosecuted more than 30 cases as an assistant state attorney with the 20th Judicial Circuit.
He also offered to help a woman to “make her case go away” in return for sex, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who issued a warrant for his arrest last week.
Mercado, 29, who worked out of the state attorney’s office in Charlotte County, was arrested Wednesday in Miami-Dade County on bribery charges.
The investigation by Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that Mercado participated in a sexual relationship with a woman that was charged with domestic battery in exchange for helping her case, according to their press release.
Investigating officers determined Mercado had access to records regarding her case and provided information and advice.
Mercado worked for the 20th Judicial Circuit, which covers: Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. He was hired in May 2017 and he resigned in February 2019.
He then became a criminal defense attorney, opening up his own law firm in Miami where he bragged on his site that he “knows all the tactics that will be used to convict you and how to shut them down.” His site has since been taken down but below is a screenshot from the cached version.
It is not clear if he resigned over the investigation but two months later, Florida Governor Gov. Ron DeSantis reassigned the case to the 12th Judicial Circuit to take over the case to avoid a conflict of interest in having Mercado’s former employer prosecute him.
At least 28 Charlotte County cases were handled by Mercado, but it is currently unknown if those cases will be challenged due to loss of creditability.
Mercado bond has not been publicly posted but he is currently out on bond.
Mercado, who was admitted to the Florida Bar in September 2017, remains in good standing, according to the Florida Bar website.