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Closing Arguments In Ex-Hialeah Mayor's Tax Evasion Trial

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Closing arguments got underway Monday in the tax evasion trial of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and his wife.

Robaina, 49, and his wife, Raiza, 40, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to evade paying taxes between 2005 and 2010. The Robainas are accused of overstating losses on their businesses and understating gains in their personal income, failing to report about $2 million.

The charges are the result of an investigation, first reported by CBS4 News in 2011, stemming from allegations made against Robaina by Luis Felipe Perez, who plead guilty in 2010 of operating a $45 million Ponzi scheme.

Click Here to read the indictment filed against the Robainas.

Perez, known by the nickname Felipito, has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in an attempt to reduce his ten-year prison term.

During the trial Perez testified that Robaina gave him high interest loans totaling $750,000 which were to be paid back half in cash, half in checks. Robaina and Perez allegedly shared the secret cash payments which Robaina is accused of not reporting on his income tax returns. Perez needed the money to keep his Ponzi scheme afloat.

The loans, some of which were made in the form of mortgages on Perez properties, stipulated on paper an interest rate of 18 percent. But Perez said that the actual interest rate was 36 percent - a usury rate that would be illegal.

Perez also testified that Robaina wanted him to stop writing the checks payable to him, and instead make them out to two lending companies set up by the mayor's wife. One was called RVR Holdings and the other MR Holdings.

During the trial, Julio Robaina did not take the stand, but his wife did.

Raiza Robaina testified that their accountant was to blame for many of the problems and insisted that they did not submit fraudulent tax returns.

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