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Financial Crimes
05/16/2013

Former Hialeah mayor, wife charged with tax fraud and making false statements

MIAMI — Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife Raiza Villacis Robaina face charges for criminal tax fraud and making false statements to federal agents. The arrests resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division.

The indictment charges both Mr. and Mrs. Robaina with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States for the purpose of impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the IRS in the ascertainment, computation, assessment and collection of federal income taxes. They are also charged with two counts of making and subscribing false tax returns. Additionally, Julio Robaina is charged with two counts of making false representations to federal agents and Raiza Villacis Robaina is charged with one count of making a false representation to federal agents.

According to the indictment, the defendants sought to defraud the United States by conducting financial transactions in a manner that would conceal their true nature. For instance, they concealed information from their tax return preparer, subscribed to false tax returns and made false representations to federal agents. The indictment alleges that the defendants' 2005 through 2007 personal income tax returns falsely understated their total income and that defendant Julio Robaina's 2005 through 2007 corporate income tax returns overstated losses incurred.

"Elected officials and people in positions of trust are held to an even higher standard than the general public," said Alysa D. Erichs, special agent in charge of HSI Miami. "Joint investigative efforts by HSI and the IRS uncovered this alleged tax fraud scheme. This highlights the effective collaboration between federal law enforcement agencies to ensure that no one operates above the law."

"Our citizenship comes with many privileges, but also with attendant duties and responsibilities. Among those duties, each of us – regardless of station or position – is required to pay our fair share of taxes. The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to assist the IRS to enforce our nation's tax laws so that honest taxpayers are not burdened by others' failure to meet their tax obligations," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.

"The tax system is built on the premise that taxpayers file accurate tax returns," said Michael J. DePalma, acting special agent in charge of the IRS' Criminal Investigation Division Miami Field Office. "No one is above the law and those who willfully violate our nation's tax laws will be held accountable for their actions.

Julio Robaina was mayor of Hialeah from December 2005 until May 2011.