Meet the Brazil mayor who ran town via WhatsApp and is wanted for corruption

Mayor lived 200 miles away, posted exploits to Instagram.


Selena Larson


Published Aug 31, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:37 am CDT

Lidiane Leite, the 25-year-old mayor of Bom Jardim, a poor Brazilian city, is on the run from authorities after being accused of stealing millions from local school districts and managing the entire city through WhatsApp. He reportedly lived almost 200 miles away.

The only contact she had with her cabinet and the mayor’s office was through the mobile messaging service WhatsApp, which she used to send daily messages under the pretense of running the city, the BBC reported. Leite was apparently living a life of luxury, and according to the Brazilian news company Folha de Sao Paulo, she was regularly posting her extravagant escapades on Instagram, which included popping bottles of champagne, taking photos with a personal trainer, and riding on jet skis. 

Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Leite and her former boyfriend Beto Rocha as part of “Operation Eden,” after $4 million dollars went missing from the education system. And according to the Telegraph, teachers aren’t being paid. Rocha was her main adviser, and has his own history of corruption in the city. He tried running for mayor in 2012, but was banned for alleged corruption. The couple reportedly ended their relationship earlier this year. 

Her lawyer said that the millennial was just simply too young to manage such responsibility: “She was too young and and inexperienced when she took office,” her lawyer Carlos Barros said. “She lacked confidence and delegated many tasks to Mr. Rocha.”

Photo via Jan Persiel/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2015, 7:46 pm CDT