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Federal jury in Miami acquits Hialeah mayor, wife on tax-evasion charges

@jayhweaver

A Miami federal jury on Tuesday found Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife, Raiza, not guilty on a slew of tax evasion charges.

It was a resounding victory for the Robainas, who had repeatedly blamed mistakes by their accountant for the failure to report some $2 million in unreported income.

Federal prosecutors had declared them “tax cheats” through the two-week trail but the couple’s defense attorney had argued they were victims of an unscrupulous Ponzi schemer.

The Robainas’ trial, which has lasted more than two weeks, spotlighted Hialeah’s “shadow” banking industry of high-interest loans. As a sitting mayor, Robaina had loaned $750,000 to a Ponzi schemer who would eventually be convicted of swindling $40 million from the couple and dozens of other investors.

Prosecutors admitted that Luis Felipe Perez, the government’s star witness, was a “con artist” who hopes to obtain a reduction of his 10-year prison sentence for his jewelry investment scheme.

But they also revealed that Perez kept financial records showing he paid 36 percent interest on the loans from the Robainas, half in checks and half in cash — cash that prosecutors contend he kept secret from his wife.

More here.

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