Former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina's federal trial begins

Julio and Raiza Robaina stand together despite mistress allegations


MIAMI – Opening statements in a federal trial that may air former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina's dirty laundry began Friday.

During the trial, a dozen jurors will learn about Robaina's alleged mistress, a jeweler involved in a $40 million Ponzi scheme, secret cash payments and an informal banking system that charged illegal interest rates as high as 36 percent.

Defense attorney David Garvin and federal prosecutor Michael Davis will go head to head, as Robaina and his wife Raiza Villacis Robaina stand accused of conspiring to defraud the federal government. 

Prosecutors claim the Robainas failed to report about $1 million in earnings from 2005 to 2007, as they covered illegal financial transactions.

Robaina, 48, served as Hialeah's mayor from 2005 to May 23, 2011 when he resigned to run for county mayor. The Cuban-American Republican born in New Jersey lost to Carlos Gimenez.

Local 10 News Michael Putney was at the trial Friday.