A once mighty South Florida mayor is set to turn himself in to face federal charges on Friday.
Former Hialeah Mayor and Julio Robaina and his wife, Raiza, are accused of conspiring to evade their taxes, and failing to report their true income to the IRS. Part of their alleged scheme also includes a something known as "shadow banking."
Just a few years ago, then-Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and wife, Raiza, were on the campaign trail, hoping to lock in Robaina as the new Miami-Dade Mayor over then-opponent, Carlos Gimenez.
The IRS and Homeland Security Investigations now allege the Robainas were fudging their federal income taxes. The loan company-owning couple is accused of conspiring to evade their taxes, creating false returns, and making false statements to federal agents.
For example, their 10-page indictment reports the couple making six-figure transactions from 20-05 to 20-07, but noting meager, five-figure loses. 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 charges sparked outrage in Hialeah.
"I hope a lot of people learn from this, but they're not going to learn from this," said Svetlana Valdes, a Hialeah resident.
"If you do wrong, turn yourself in," said Ervin Garcia, another Hialeah resident.
That is what the Robainas are set to do Friday.
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 linking Robaina to a loan operation, that paid him off with interest in cash.
"[Perez] turned over records showing payments to Mayor Robaina as well as others at very high interest rates. The records reflected monthly payments of the interest, half by check and half by cash. Additionally, [Perez] provided testimony and witnesses who would make the cash payments..." said Alvin Entin, Perez's attorney.
Through their attorney, the Robainas are denying the allegations.
"Both Mr. and Mrs. Robaina are disappointed by the turn of events. But, at the same time, they are very confident and look forward to their day in court," said David Garvin, the couple's attorney.
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