MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Tuesday will mark one week since a jury cleared former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife on tax evasion charges.
Monday, Robaina explained to CBS4’s David Sutta why he thinks the government came after him and what political aspirations he has looking forward.
“We thank God that we were able to get through this and on a personal level I feel stronger because of it,” Robaina said.
There is no doubt the last three years has taken a toll of Robaina and his wife. “You realize who is truly there for you. Not just in good times but in the very bad times. I think that is something that has changed in both of us,” Raiza Robaina said.
The Robaina’s are now speaking out because they believe they were used for a publicity stunt.
“It should never had happened,” Robaina summarized.
The government claimed the former Hialeah mayor had failed to pay taxes on some two million dollars.
“We never said that we didn’t pay our taxes or didn’t want to pay our taxes. We paid what our professionals put together and put in front of us and we paid it,” Robaina said.
At trial, attorney David Garvin proved mistakes were made by those professionals. When you make a mistake on your taxes it’s typically resolved with an audit. Garvin says the IRS skipped that option with Robaina, taking him to trial to make an example.
“There is only 3,000 criminal tax cases brought every year, out of a country that has 350 million,” Garvin explained. “They are supposed to only bring the case that can’t be lost. And that is because when the publicity hits about what happened to the taxpayer being convicted, hundreds of thousands of other people are supposed to be given the incentive to make certain that their tax returns are correct. Voluntary compliance with a little nudge.”
The timing of the charges, during his run for Miami-Dade County Mayor, couldn’t have been worse. “We lost a very, very tight election by 2 percentage points to become mayor of Miami-Dade County. There is no doubt there was political motivation behind this,” Robaina said.
CBS4’s David Sutta asked what will Robaina do now that the trial is over. “We are going to take some time to smell the air, enjoy the sunshine, and hopefully, hopefully they’ll be new leaders that come forward,” he said.
Robaina wouldn’t say he will never run again for office, but he did indicate he has no plans to seek office. He hopes to stay involved in the community though. “I don’t necessarily have to be an elected official to do that. I can help those who are in elected position,” Robaina said.
Robaina expects to be hit with an IRS audit any day. His lawyer is curious to see how they will turn out. By his calculations, Robaina may actually not owe the IRS anything, but they may owe him a refund.
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