Suspended Miami Lakes mayor sues for job back

Michael Pizzi challenges state after being acquitted of federal charges

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor , Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. - Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi announced a lawsuit against the state to get his job back at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"The governor refuses to follow the law," Pizzi attorney Ben Keuhne said.

Pizzi was acquitted by a jury on all federal corruption charges against him. Under state statute, an elected official is supposed to be reinstated if he or she is cleared of the charges.

But Gov. Rick Scott told Local 10 News that a special election was already held to elect a new mayor in Miami Lakes, so there was no position for Pizzi to be reinstated.

The lawsuit calls on the Florida Supreme Court to "forthwith revoke the suspension" of Pizzi after his acquittal on the charges that were the basis of his suspension.

Pizzi said it's not about him being mayor or not being mayor.

"I want to respect the will of those people," he said.

Pizzi trumped current Mayor Wayne Slaton in 2012 by a 2-1 margin with 75 percent turnout. Slaton was elected by a fraction of that number in the special election held solely to fill the suspension.

The governor and Miami Lakes leadership insist that the town charter trumps state law. But that's not what their then-attorney said last year.

"As I clearly stated ... Florida statute does contradict our code section and does take precedence," attorney Joseph Geller said in August 2013.

Scott didn't comment on the lawsuit, but his office released a statement Thursday evening.

"The decision regarding Michael Pizzi's term was rendered in consultation with the town of Miami Lakes after review of their town charter," Scott's press secretary, John Tupps, said. "The courts will ultimately decide the issue."

Click here to read the full lawsuit filed.

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