MIAMI LAKES (CBSMiami) – Miami Lakes town officials held a press conference Monday morning to address the status of suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi.
Pizzi was acquitted last week, on all seven federal corruption charges stemming from a set-up last summer by federal investigators.
He told the town officials he would return to work Monday, but the mayor’s job was already given to Wayne Slaton following a special election in 2013.
“I’m here today to begin serving the people of Miami Lakes,” Pizzi said before entering Town Hall.
Slaton and Pizzi don’t see eye-to-eye on who is the Mayor of Miami Lakes.
Both men showed up to Miami Lakes Town Hall to claim the office they say they were elected to fill Monday morning.
“I was elected by the residents,” said Wayne Slaton.
“I defeated him by 70% of the vote,” said suspended Mayor Pizzi.
Pizzi plans to fight to get his job back and has an attorney to help him.
“I’m going to instruct my attorneys to go to court this week,” Pizzi said.
Pizzi said once he was cleared of the federal charges Governor Scott should have immediately reinstated him and Florida law supports that.
“The state statute that I was removed under says, that when I am exonerated and my name is cleared I immediately become the mayor again,” Pizzi said. “This is a no brainer. There’s no dispute or legal issue. I’m the mayor under the Florida Constitution.”
He added the statute allows him to collect back pay and benefits.
Governor Rick Scott said he would not reinstate Pizzi as the town’s mayor because it is a local issue and the town’s people have already elected Slaton.
Slaton said he isn’t going anywhere and if Pizzi ventures into unauthorized areas of town hall, he will be considered a trespasser and may be subject to arrest.
“We will not tolerate anybody trying to disrupt or walk into any unauthorized offices within the town of Miami Lakes.”
Pizzi said he doesn’t plan to cause a scene, especially after the eventful year he’s had.
“After being acquitted of these charges, I’m the happiest man on earth, and nothing is going to rain on my parade,” Pizzi said. “Regardless of what they do inside, I got my life back. Everyday is a beautiful day.”
Slaton was the mayor of Miami Lakes from 2001 to 2008 and lost to Pizzi in 2008.
Slaton says this particular instance is different from other similar local cases because he was elected, and not appointed by the council.
Pizzi, however, says this sets a precedent that public officials will be penalized even if they are found not guilty in a court of law.
While his lawyers plan their next legal move, Pizzi said he plans to take his children to Disney World.