Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife Raiza made their first appearance in court Friday after turning themselves in to federal custody to face tax fraud charges.
During the afternoon hearing at the federal courthouse in Miami, a judge set Julio Robaina's bond at $250,000. Raiza Robaina's bond was set at $100,000. Both will have to surrender their passports and will be arraigned next Friday, the judge ruled.
"Obviously, yesterday was not what we expected. We did not expect the IRS to move forward on this case that soon we will prove has no merits," Robaina said outside the federal courthouse in Miami with his wife by his side. "We're hoping and we will have our day in court soon, and we will prove our innocence."
He added: "Today is not a day to talk about the merits of the case, but there will be a day very soon where we will prove there are no merits to the IRS' case."
He gave this thanks to the supporters and friends who have emailed, called and sent text messages.
The Robainas are accused of conspiring to evade their taxes, creating false returns, making false statements to federal agents and failing to report their true income to the IRS.
A 10-page indictment released Thursday 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 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.
"[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 have denied 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.
Robaina, 48, served as Hialeah's mayor from 2005-2011 before resigning to run for Mayor of Miami-Dade, an election he lost to Carlos Gimenez.
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