Ex-Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina Found Not Guilty In Tax Fraud Case

A Miami-Dade County federal jury found former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina and his wife not guilty Tuesday in a tax fraud case.

The verdict was reached before 4 p.m. and read in court shortly before 4:15 p.m.

"I told all of you from the beginning that we were going to vindicate our name, that the truth is the truth," Juilo Robaina said Tuesday afternoon. "As the days go forward, we will expand on that."

Robaina and his wife, Raiza Robaina, had been charged with conspiring to evade their taxes, creating false returns and lying to federal agents.

Prosecutors said Robaina failed to disclose on tax returns about $2 million in income between 2005 and 2010. Some of that allegedly was cash payments on high-interest personal loans they made to friends and associates, including a convicted Ponzi schemer.

Jurors began deliberations Monday after closing arguments were delivered.

Julio Robaina did not testify in his own defense, but Raiza Robaina blamed many of the problems on mistakes made by the couple's accountant. She insisted they did not submit false or fraudulent tax returns or lie to investigators.

"There's nothing else to say except that, I told the truth and that's all there is," Raiza Robaina said Tuesday afternoon. "There is nothign else that I could say except the truth."

A 10-page indictment released last year claims the couple, who own a loan company, made six-figure transactions between 2005-2007, but reported small five-figure losses. Over those two years, officials allege the Robainas' taxable personal income was falsely understated, while Mr. Robaina's business tax forms showed inflated losses.

The alleged incidents took place while Julio Robaina was earning a salary of more than $200,000 as mayor. Prosecutors say that when questioned in 2010 the couple lied to federal agents about Julio Robaina's involvement in his wife's lending business.

The allegations were uncovered after convicted Ponzi schemer and Robaina acquaintance Luis Felipe Perez helped investigators, his attorney said in a statement to NBC 6. The information provided by Perez linked Robaina to a loan operation that paid him off with interest in cash, the attorney said.
Robaina served as Hialeah's mayor from 2005-2011 before resigning to run for mayor of Miami-Dade, an election he lost to Carlos Gimenez.

Julio ended an impromptu press conference Tuesday afternoon saying, "Our name has been vindicated with the truth."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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