Michael Pizzi Speaks Out, Calls FBI Snitch "The Watergate Burglar"

pizzi1.jpg
Michael Pizzi
Days following his August 6 arrest on federal bribery charges, Michael Pizzi was walking around shell-shocked and despondent. In a blockbuster moment for public corruption fighters, the Federal Bureau of Investigations had nabbed the Miami Lakes mayor, his counterpart in Sweetwater Manuel Maroño, and two lobbyists allegedly accepting payoffs in a pair of separate undercover stings. Gov. Rick Scott swiftly suspended both mayors from office in a scandal that made national headlines.

Even by Miami-Dade's shady record of politicians doing the perp walk, the bust of two sitting mayors on the same morning was a shocker that no one saw coming, especially Pizzi. Slumped over a sofa at Billiard Club in Miami Lakes a week after his fall, Pizzi looked defeated. "I'm done," he said. "It's over."

What a difference a month makes.

During a recent follow-up meeting with Banana Republican, Pizzi was his old pugnacious self. For the first time since his arrest, he went on the record, specifically about the man who served him up to the feds: Michael Kesti, a Palmetto Bay lobbyist and businessman who was outed by the Miami Herald as the unnamed FBI paid informant who helped build the case against both mayors.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Pizzi says. "I will be exonerated. If anyone perpetrated fraud, it was Kesti."

Kesti hung up on Banana Republican before we could ask him for a response. He also did not return messages sent via text and email.

According to Pizzi's arrest affidavit, he allegedly accepted $6,000 in cash and $750 in campaign contributions in exchange for pushing through two resolutions in Miami Lakes and Medley (where he was town attorney) authorizing him to apply for federal grants through a Chicago-based outfit named Sunshine Univerisal. It was really a fake company set up by the feds to fool Pizzi. Kesti vouched for the two undercover FBI agents posing as Sunshine's owners.

Pizzi accuses Kesti, for a lucrative payday as a snitch, misled him and manipulated him into pushing through the two resolutions. He notes a healthcare company owned by Kesti that was forced into bankruptcy by its creditors in 2000 had the case discharged a month before his arrest. "I have more integrity in the nail of my little finger than a thousand paid informants like Kesti," Pizzi grouses.

Of the two mayors, Pizzi definitely has a best shot of beating the charges. Unlike Maroño, Pizzi was never caught by the feds explicitly affirming he was for sale. The alleged recorded conversations simply reference Pizzi hitting up Kesti and the undercover agents for campaign contributions. Shockingly, the affidavit contains alleged recorded conversations between Pizzi, Kesti and an undercover G-man in which the Miami Lakes official has doubts about the deal.

For instance, on Feb. 29 of last year, when the agent needed an endorsement letter, he told Pizzi: "You understand this shit is bogus. What we are doing here is just grabbing money."

The mayor replied: "I can't do it if it's just bogus. That I can't do."

In the days that followed, according to emails Pizzi provided Banana Republican, Kesti relentlessly hounded him to write the letter. As part of his wooing campaign, Kesti invited him to fete at Miami City Hall on March 14, 2012. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado was hosting the party to celebrate the launch of the spirits company, Miami Club Rum LLC, a firm Kesti represented.

"Kesti lied to me, insisting this was a legitimate grant that would benefit the two towns and that these undercover guys had credibility," Pizzi grouses. "Kesti is not deep throat. He's the Watergate burglar."

Pizzi is free on $100,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled for September 20.

Writer's note: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified Kesti's role with Miami Club Rum LLC. The company's owner Matt Malone tells Banana Republican Kesti was only retained as a lobbyist. Kesti did not have an executive position or ownership stake in Miami Club Rum LLC.

Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
swinton1907
swinton1907

Pizzi is not an upfront guy.  I represented a client adversarial to Pizzi's client.  "Although you are the advocate of your client, you are required by the Florida Bar to be honest.  However, he obstructed and was not honest on the matter.  When I was later informed that Pizzi was the mayor of Miami Lakes, I was appalled.  That Miami Lakes residents would vote him into office as mayor of Miami Lakes was unbelievable to me.  As you see him in action it becomes obvious.  I would be embarrassed to have voted for him as mayor.  Miami Lakes and the rest of South Florida need to vet their candidates better!

newshawk
newshawk

Where are the pictures, Frank????

georgeramirez1209
georgeramirez1209

Definitely sounds like someone trying to deny his involvement...

Common Characteristics Among Psychopaths

    The study of the psychopath reveals an individual who is incapable of feeling guilt, remorse or empathy for their actions. They are generally cunning, manipulative and know the difference between right and wrong but dismiss it as applying to them.

    They are incapable of normal emotions such as love, generally react without considering the consequences of their actions and show extreme egocentric and narcissistic behavior.

hindemith7
hindemith7



FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-02-17-ex-fbi-ia-chief_x.htm

Tuesday February 17, 2004 11:46 PMThe former chief internal watchdog at the FBI has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl and has admitted he had a history of molesting other children before he joined the bureau for what became a two-decade career.

John H. Conditt Jr., 53, who retired in 2001, was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court in Fort Worth, Texas, after he admitted he molested the daughter of two FBI agents after he retired. He acknowledged molesting at least two other girls before he began his law enforcement career, his lawyer said.

Omar Ghaffar
Omar Ghaffar

Something tells me Pizzi was set up and should be fighting back on this one. The other mayors, not so sure.

hindemith7
hindemith7

CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
January 27, 2011



Washington (CNN) -- An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while "satisfying himself."

And an employee in a "leadership position" misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years

al004
al004

Michael Kresti does not appear in any capacity in the Florida secretary of State's records.  What's up with that?

hindemith7
hindemith7

@al004
see link for full story

http://www.wgrz.com/news/article/192104/37/Buffalo-FBI-Agent-Busted


Buffalo FBI Agent Busted
Dec 10, 2012   


BUFFALO, NY - A Special Agent working in the Buffalo office of the FBI is due in Eden Town Court later this month, after being arrested by New York State Police last Friday night, charged with exposing himself to a fellow motorist on the New York State Thruway.

State Police Lt. David Denz confirmed for WGRZ-TV that John A. Yervelli Jr., 48, of Lakeview, was charged with Public Lewdness, a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

According to Denz, a truck driver from central New York was traveling in the right lane while east bound on the Thruway near mile marker 442, between Exits 57 and 57A, when he noticed a grey minivan pull alongside him in the passing lane.

The trucker told police that when he looked down, he noticed the driver of the other vehicle (who had turned his dome light on) was not wearing pants.

"At that point the complainant stated that the driver of the minivan was exposing himself and making lewd gestures," Denz told 2 On Your Side.

falvarado10
falvarado10 writer

He does on federal bankruptcy records for the company so you need to dig a little harder Al

hindemith7
hindemith7

@al004 



February 22, 2007
http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/022007/02232007/262383
Ex-FBI man gets 7 years for child sex
Former FBI analyst sentenced in child sex case


A 17-year veteran of the FBI will serve seven years in prison for having sexual relations with a young girl in Spotsylvania County, a judge ruled yesterday.

Anthony John Lesko, 44, entered an Alford plea yesterday in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to nine counts of felony indecent liberties upon a child.

Lesko, who later moved to Jacksonville, Fla., worked as an intelligence analyst at the FBI for 17 years, according to his attorney, James A. Carter II. He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves and has received numerous military awards.

An Alford plea means Lesko doesn't admit guilt but believes there is enough evidence for a conviction. Under the terms of the plea, he was sentenced to seven years in prison with another 15 years suspended.

Lesko engaged in a sex act with a girl, 9 and 10 at the time, at least nine times in 2003-2004, according to evidence put forth by Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely.

The girl told a member of the Spotsylvania Department of Social Services about the activity in February 2004, according to the evidence. Lesko at first denied the allegations, but later spoke with a U.S. Navy counselor about them.

Lesko told the counselor that he was the victim of the sexual assault; he said the girl initiated the contact, according to the plea. Lesko entered the plea partly to spare the girl the pain of a trial, his attorney said.

al004
al004

@falvarado10 I wasn't looking for any other reason that I was curious about your claim that Miami Club Rum was his company, but if this guy is a Florida lobbyist, and if he at least supposedly owned one Florida company don't you think he should have had some corporate presence in the state?

As for digging a little harder, it seems that the City of Miami either didn't post photos of that event that you mentioned, or that the photos were taken off the site after Kresti became "news."


Maybe you might want to make a public records request for the photos - and you can absolutely be sure that photos do exist - and see who else might have been at the party.

hindemith7
hindemith7

@falvarado10@al004

see link for full story
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9887270/FBI-agents-caught-sexting-and-dating-drug-dealers.html

February 22, 2013
FBI agents caught sexting and dating drug dealers
Dating drug dealers, harassing ex-boyfriends with naked pictures, and pointing guns at pet dogs: these were just a few of the offences committed recently by serving FBI agents, according to internal documents.
The US provided officers from the Egyptian secret police with training at the FBI, despite allegations that they routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition.

Disciplinary files from the Bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility record an extraordinary range of transgressions that reveal the chaotic personal lives of some of America's top law enforcers.

One male agent was sacked after police were called to his mistress's house following reports of domestic incident. When officers arrived they found the agent "drunk and uncooperative" and eventually had to physically subdue him and wrestle away his loaded gun.

A woman e-mailed a "nude photograph of herself to her ex-boyfriend's wife" and then continued to harass the couple despite two warnings from senior officials. The Bureau concluded she was suffering from depression related to the break-up and allowed her to return to work after 10 days.  

al004
al004

@falvarado10 @al004 I'm sure that a lot of folks never show up in corporate records - especially politicians who get more than campaign contributions for the favors they do - but I thought it interesting that this guy didn't show up even as a principal in a lobbying firm.  

As for the Miami Club Rum company, New Times did a story in April of 2012 that listed a guy named Matt Malone as the prez and chief distiller.

I'm just trying to help you out here Frank, I think there might be a couple more good stories here, and my dance card is so full that I figured that when you put Kresti and Regalado in the same room, that was something that should be explored further.

Like I said, I'd be looking to get a hold of the photos of that event to see who showed up.

falvarado10
falvarado10 writer

@al004 @falvarado10 I thought you were referring to the medical company. I have emails from Kesti to Pizzi where he claims the rum company is his as well as the flyer for the party. I've come across a number of individuals who own companies and their names are not on corporate paperwork. For example, on Miami Beach, Tremont Towing is owned Miami Beach developer Russell Galbut, but his name does not appear on any Tremont Towing incorporation records on Sunbiz.  

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...