Ex-Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina Used Ponzi Cash to Pay for Mistress, Prosecutors Say
Former Hialeah mayor and Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Julio Robaina was already in big trouble with prosecutors for allegedly taking $300,000 in secret loan payments from a buddy running a Ponzi scheme. Now he might just be in even bigger trouble with his wife and codefendant, Raiza Robaina.
That's because prosecutors now say he took the cash in part to pay for expensive dalliances with his mistress.
Julio and Raiza Robaina were charged together last May with evading taxes, failing to report income, and lying to authorities about their off-the-books, high-interest loan business. The case grew out of the criminal trial of Robaina's friend, Luis Felipe Perez, who is charged with running a $45 million Ponzi scheme.
Prosecutors say the couple loaned Perez $850,000 at a 36 percent interest rate and didn't declare any of the income that came in from the fraud.
What Raiza didn't know, prosecutors say, is that Julio asked his friend to personally give him most of the payments from the loan so he could spend them on an extramarital affair.
"Julio Robaina concealed his receipt of the cash from defendant Raiza Robaina and used it in part to fund expenses relating to a girlfriend," the government writes in an order.
The latest wrinkle in the case comes to light after the Miami Herald successfully petitioned a judge to unseal numerous orders, which show that Robaina's alleged infidelity has thrown a wrench into the prosecution.
The problem is that the Robainas insisted on being represented by a joint attorney, and that prosecutors worried that news about the ex-mayor's mistress could taint a jury pool.
If the prosecutors are right, the ex-politico comes out looking far worse than when he seemed to be just a loan-sharking Ponzi scheme profiteer. Amid his illegal enterprise, he systematically lied to his spouse, they say.
"Julio Robaina told Perez that defendant Raiza Robaina did not know about the 36 percent interest rate and, rather, thought it was 18 percent, because that is what he... told her," they write in the memo.
That allegation has been backed up by Roberto Blanco, the son of longtime Perez supporter Rolando Blanco; Roberto told investigators that Julio Robaina would have cash payments delivered to their house to keep it from his wife so she wouldn't know about his girlfriend.
Prosecutors worry the new info could cause problems for the couple's joint attorney.
"Raiza Robaina could use evidence that defendant Julio Robaina concealed cash interest payments from her both to minimize her involvement and/or knowledge of that portion of the scheme and to argue more broadly that he kept her in the dark about the criminal activity generally," they write.
The Robainas' trial is set to start April 10.
Here's the full memo from prosecutors: