MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi who was removed as mayor after he was indicted by the feds in a corruption sting held a barbecue on Saturday.
“I’m not going to let the fact that I’ve been falsely accused of something, keep me from loving my neighbor and being there for my neighbors,” said Pizzi.
The barbecue/pig roast, held near 154th street and NW 87 Avenue, was meant to celebrate his accomplishments as mayor and the opening of 87th Avenue.
“I promised the people I was going to do it and I got it done under budget and in record time,” said Pizzi.
A source told CBS4, there were three tents set up and at least 50 cars in the lot to party with the allegedly bribe taking mayor who is awaiting trial in federal court.
“With all the problems and stuff like that, you can tell out here, over 500 people came out here to celebrate all the good things we’ve done and to celebrate hopefully my return real soon as mayor,” said Pizzi.
Pizzi, along with Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño were arrested August 6 and charged with conspiracy to commit extortion. Both made their initial court appearances the same day and were given bond.
Two lobbyists were also arrested by the FBI for their alleged role in the sting operation.
Pizzi was in his second term as mayor of Miami Lakes at the time of his arrest and has worked as a Miami Lakes councilman and at a criminal defense firm in Miami before being elected mayor for the first time in 2008.
Pizzi allegedly received $5,000 in cash kickbacks for the Miami Lakes grant deal and an additional $1,000 cash and $750 in campaign contributions for a deal in Medley, according to the FBI.
“Regarding the case, that will be resolved in a court of law in our justice system but in the meantime, whether I’m in office or out of office, I’m still going to be doing lechon and caja china. I’m still going to be doing roast porks,” said Pizzi.
There are some who take issue with Pizzi’s party.
Miami lakes resident David Bennett claims Pizzi had nothing to do with the eventual opening of 87 avenue because the county was taking the property by eminent domain. Bennett said Saturday’s event was smoke and mirrors to distract from what he calls pizzi’s “selling out” of the people of Miami Lakes.