Hialeah's former mayor and his wife have been released on bail after surrendering to face federal tax evasion charges.
Julio and Raiza Villacis Robaina had their initial court appearance Friday in Miami. They are expected to be arraigned next Friday on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S., filing a false tax return and making false statements to investigators.
Each charge carries a potential five-year prison sentence. Julio Robaina told reporters outside the courthouse that he and his wife are innocent.
"We will have our day in court soon and we will prove our innocence," he said. "There are no merits to the IRS' case."
The Robainas are accused of receiving undisclosed cash payments as interest on more than $1 million in personal loans they made to old friends and associates, including convicted Ponzi schemer Luis Felipe Perez.
IRS agents examined Robaina's bank and other financial records for any deposits that seemed out of the ordinary for evidence that showed he evaded paying his full share of taxes. If a person receives any kind of interest payment on a loan, federal law requires that income to be reported to the IRS for possible taxation.
Julio Robaina was Hialeah's mayor from 2005 to 2011 and ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Miami-Dade County.