Former Hialeah mayor turns himself in

Julio Robaina, Raiza Villacis Robaina charged with tax evasion

MIAMI - A former Hialeah mayor and his wife turned themselves in to federal authorities on tax evasion charges Friday morning.

Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, 47, and Raiza Villacis Robaina, 39, were indicted Thursday. They made their first appearance in federal court on Friday.

A judge ordered Julio Robaina be held on a $250,000 personal surety bond and his wife on a $100,000 personal surety bond.

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.

"The tax system is built on the premise that taxpayers file accurate tax returns," Michael J. DePalma, the head IRS investigator in Miami, said in a prepared statement. "No one is above the law and those who willfully violate our nation's tax laws will be held accountable for their actions."

READ: Indictment filed against the Robainas |

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.

Both Robainas have been charged with conspiring to defraud the IRS by committing tax evasion and filing false tax returns. They also were charged with lying to federal agents.

"Our citizenship comes with many privileges, but also with attendant duties and responsibilities," Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement. "Among those duties, each of us — regardless of station or position — is required to pay our fair share of taxes."

Robaina's attorney David Garvin released a statement, saying: "Both Julio Robaina and his wife are disappointed by these events and we look forward to our day in court . We are confident that when the facts in this case are presented we will prevail and our good names will be restored and completely vindicated."

Julio Robaina previously said that he reported all interest income from loans on his personal and corporate tax returns, before and after he became mayor in 2005. He left office in 2011 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County.

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