As depicted by the government, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi was a greedy politician who “sold his office” for money from undercover FBI agents posing as crooked businessmen needing his influence in government.
“Mr. Pizzi knew this was a corrupt scheme,” federal prosecutor Bob Senior told jurors Tuesday during closing arguments in Pizzi’s corruption trial. “He participated in a corrupt scheme.”
But as told by Pizzi’s defense team, he was nothing more than a honest politician looking to help his community. He supported the bogus businessmen’s plan while being pushed, prodded and ultimately entrapped into accepting only part of the money — though for legitimate reasons.
“It is impossible that Mike Pizzi could have corrupt intent,” defense attorney Ed Shohat said.
“What kind of politician demands more money for simply sponsoring a free program that’s ‘good for the city,’ ” Senior told jurors.
But Shohat insisted that the agents, Kesti and lobbyist Richard Candia — Pizzi’s pal who was arrested and convicted as part of the scheme — consistently reinforced the notion that the program was legitimate. Pizzi supported the supposed grant but consistently shrugged off efforts to implicitly ask for money.
“Any good honest politician, trying to get hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the seven figures [for his community], would have done the exact same thing,” Shohat said.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Pizzi jury deliberating
Dave Ovalle covers the closings here: