Closing arguments begin in Michael Pizzi corruption trial

Suspended Miami Lakes mayor pleaded not gulity to charges

MIAMI – Closing arguments began Tuesday morning in the corruption trial of suspend Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi.

Pizzi pleaded not guilty last October to accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents.

Jurors spent most of the day listening to prosecutors argue that Pizzi is guilty.

Defense attorneys portrayed Pizzi as an honest, hard-working mayor who was only trying to get a federal grant for his city and Medley, where he served as town attorney.

"We deny emphatically that Mike Pizzi acted at any time with corrupt intent and if you think he did, this was entrapment," defense attorney Ed Shohat said.

Assistant U.S. attorney Robert Senior said otherwise.

"Mr. Pizzi knew this was a corrupt scheme," Senior said. "He participated in this corrupt scheme. He accepted money to perform official acts as part of this corrupt scheme."

According to the complaint, lobbyist Richard Candia introduced Pizzi to the agents, who were posing as the owners of a Chicago-based grant administration business. The agents told Candia they could get federal grants with the help of elected officials.

Pizzi helped the FBI agents apply for federal grants in Miami Lakes and Medley, according to the complaint. He received $6,000 in cash for himself, which he didn't report, and $750 for his re-election campaign, which he reported.

The jury will begin deliberating Wednesday morning.

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