MIAMI LAKES (CBSMiami) – Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi lives in a sparsely furnished Miami Lakes townhouse that resembles an un-kept college dorm.
“I drive a beat up Kia and live in the most inexpensive townhouse in Miami Lakes,” Pizzi said, joking that he can’t afford curtains for the place he calls home.
Pizzi, who is fighting to get his old job back at town hall, lost a year’s worth of salary as mayor and his law practice came to a stop as he fought the corruption charges in court.
“I’ll never drive a Mercedes or live in a mansion, but I’m happy,” Pizzi, a divorced father of two grown children said.
A federal jury found Pizzi not guilty of taking $6,700 from undercover FBI agents working with Lobbyist turned confidential informant Michael Kesti, who led the FBI to Pizzi.
“The defense did a good job convince the jury that Pizzi wasn’t guilty,” Kesti said. “But you could be found guilty in court and that doesn’t mean you are innocent.”
Kesti, who claimed represent Chicago businessmen offering kickbacks from a federal grant program, was paid $114,000 for his cooperation with the FBI.
“Michael Kesti is someone who took a lot of money to lie to people so he could enrich himself at the expense of destroying other people’s lives,” Pizzi said.
During the trial, Pizzi’s lawyers argued their client took about $3,000 to pay back money he loaned his re-election campaign, but denied he took other payments.
“I never did anything illegal. I never broke any law. I never breached the faith of the people,” Pizzi said.
After the verdict, a juror was quoted as saying she felt Pizzi was arrogant and needed a little humility.
“I would agree with her,” Pizzi said. “I could be a little arrogant at times. If she said I came across as arrogant I think it’s something I need to control and maybe I do need to be a little more humble.”