Former Miami Lakes mayor pleads innocent in corruption case
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi pleaded not guilty in court Friday morning to corruption charges related to a public corruption case the FBI had investigated earlier this year.
A smiling Pizzi confidently walked out of the federal courthouse in Downtown Miami, Friday morning, accompanied by his entourage of lawyers, after pleading not guilty. "I am innocent. I am innocent. I am not guilty. I am not guilty. I am innocent, and I will be exonerated and found not guilty in trial," Pizzi insisted outside the courthouse Friday.
Pizzi pleaded not guilty after being arrested in August along with former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Marono and lobbyist Richard Candia and George Forte for their alleged involvement in a scheme meant to enrich themselves at the expense of federal grant money. However, the organization orchestrating the grants was bogus and had been created by the FBI.
Pizzi had allegedly received $6,000 in the scheme. "He's not taking a plea to anything. He is going to a jury trial," said defense attorney Ed Shohat.
William Barzee, Candia's attorney, told a federal judge that his client is complying with the federal investigation that led to Pizzi and Marono's arrests. "Richard's pleased to be cooperating with the United States Attorney's Office; he is going to continue doing so," said William Barzee, Candia's attorney.
A jury of his peers will now decide his fate. Pizzi's attorney said what will be presented to exonerate Pizzi will be revealed in court. "It is our intention to try this case in the courtroom and not in the media. We're going to come to court fully armed to demonstrate his innocence in this case," said Shohat.
A trial date for Pizzi has not been set. Candia's arraignment has been set for Nov. 25.
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