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Suspended Miami Lakes mayor declares innocence, vows to fight federal corruption charges

@jayhweaver @ChuckRabin

Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi declared his innocence Saturday, saying he “accepted no money inappropriately or illegally from anyone, ever,” and that his only motivation was to obtain government grants to help his hometown and Medley.

Pizzi, arrested Tuesday on charges of accepting cash kickbacks as part of a grant scheme in an FBI undercover operation, told the Herald/El Nuevo Herald he would vindicate himself in federal court and return to lead the town that has elected him mayor twice.

“I have never committed any crime or done anything wrong,” Pizzi, 51, said in a statement prepared for the newspapers.

“Now that this has happened to me, I look forward to clearing my name in court as soon as possible so I can return to serving the people as mayor,” Pizzi, 51, said. “The evidence will prove my innocence.”

Pizzi’s lawyers, Ed Shohat and Ben Kuehne, would not allow Herald reporters to question their client.

Pizzi responded for the first time Saturday after being charged with conspiring to commit extortion with Miami-Dade lobbyist Richard Candia. Candia was also charged with the same offense in a separate complaint accusing Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño and lobbyist Jorge Forte of receiving kickbacks.

More here.