I confess I haven’t kept up with the criminal trial of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just another dirty politician in a long line of dirty politicians that South Florida has become famous for breeding. For some reason, though, an article in yesterday’s Miami Herald, Convicted lobbyist becomes star witness in Miami Lakes mayor’s bribery trial, got my attention.
Maybe it had something to do with the words “lobbyist” and “bribery” being used in the same headline.
Or maybe I was just bored.
Whichever it was, I was intrigued enough to read the entire article.
What I found both interesting and infuriating at the same time was that, unlike some of other indicted public officials in South Florida, Pizzi went from getting handcuffed to standing trial in less than a year after his arrest.
Even more perplexing is the fact that he’s on trial for allegedly “accepting $6,750 in illegal checks and cash from two undercover FBI agents” who “lured him into officially supporting sham federal grant applications.” His arrest was made possible by the assistance of “likeable lobbyist” Richard Candia, who first helped Pizzi get elected, then turned around and helped the FBI to arrest his client. Of course, Candia “offered” his “assistance” after he inadvertently first got himself arrested for taking bribes as the “unwitting target” of the FBI’s sting operation.
I realize that taking any amount of money in “illegal checks and cash” is wrong. If Michael Pizzi did what his accusers claim, he should absolutely be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If found guilty, he should receive whatever sentence is handed down as a consequence for his actions.
But I had to read the article twice to see if there was more money involved than the $6,750.00 he was accused of taking. It does not appear so.
My first thought was “What a putz!”
If he’s eventually found guilty as charged, Pizzi actually risked his entire political career, not to mention his freedom, for less than the price of a very used car with very high mileage.
That just seems like such a pitiful amount of money compared to what the FBI sting operation, not to mention the trial, will end up costing by the time it’s all said and done. Even as I’m happy to see that corruption is being taken seriously, this particular case hardly seems worth the price tag.
Still, you won’t hear me complaining.
Except when I compare Pizzi’s case to that of North Miami Beach EX-Mayor Myron Rosner. Myron is currently standing trial on FELONY charges for allegedly receiving illegal compensation in his capacity as an elected official and 3rd degree grand theft, in addition to the misdemeanors of allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions, issuing a check from his campaign account with insufficient funds to cover it, making illegal expenditures, and failing to report the illegal contributions and expenditures.
I don’t know the exact amount of money involved in all of Myron’s alleged crimes, but I’m sure it was way more than the $6,750.00 that Michael Pizzi got in trouble for accepting.
And another thing.
Michael Pizzi’s trial is currently underway even though he was arrested less than a year ago.
Myron’s perp walk, which almost didn’t happen, occurred on September 20, 2012. That was nearly two years ago and his trial hasn’t even started yet! Furthermore, if his criminal lawyer, Benedict P. Kuehne, has anything to do with it, Myron’s trial won’t begin for at least another year or more.
- Michael Pizzi isn’t married to CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE SARAH ZABEL.
- Michael Pizzi didn’t hire Ben Kuehne to defend him.
- Michael Pizzi isn’t being tried by Katherine Fernandez-Rundle’s State Attorneys Office.
Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi might be a putz, but at least he’s the perfect poster child for everything that aspiring dirty politicians in South Florida should not try at home.
“Spreading the Wealth”