Michael Pizzi takes mayor's office despite red flags

Suspended mayor insists it's his office despite special election already held in Miami Lakes

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – It was a happy homecoming for Michael Pizzi, who returned to Miami Lakes Town Hall for the first time since he was arrested last year.

"I'm back," yelled Pizzi as he entered his old office Thursday. "I have returned. I'm back."

Pizzi had just driven from the federal courthouse, where a jury found him not guilty on all corruption charges.

"One of the reasons I fought this so hard is I wanted the people of Miami Lakes and our town staff to know that they're mayor was not a crook, that I did not betray them (and) that I never sold my office," Pizzi said.

At this point, however, it remains unclear who is the mayor of Miami Lakes.

Pizzi said he was told he has already been reinstated, but the governor's office claims otherwise.

"The position has been filled by the voters of Miami Lakes, so there's nothing to reinstate him to," John Tubbs, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott's office, said in a statement, referring to a special election Miami Lakes already held for the spot.

Pizzi insists it's his office though.

A state statute reads if a suspended official is acquitted, the governor must reinstate that person with back pay. Officials are working to sort out the situation.

Meanwhile, Pizzi was expected to return to Town Hall on Friday to get back to work.

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