On the dais, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi appears to be always in control.
After all, Pizzi, 51, knows the rules: Hes town attorney for Medley (earning $192,000 a year), a criminal defense lawyer, and a University of Miami law school graduate (No. 1 in his class.)
Its why many were shocked when federal agents led him out of Miami Lakes City Hall in handcuffs on Tuesday. He faces bribery charges stemming from an FBI sting investigation.
He always saying things have to be done right, said resident Hope Reynolds.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was first elected to the Miami Lakes Community Council in 1998, before the town was incorporated. A proposal to build on American Indian burial grounds pushed him into politics.
I had this terrible notion that I wasnt giving anything back to the community, he told the Miami Herald in 1998.
He has served as an elected official for the town ever since, never losing an election (He earns $18,000 a year as mayor, plus a $600-a-month car allowance).
During his tenure, he has been investigated at least twice by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust, although the complaints that he meddled in a bid process and that he failed to properly register as a lobbyist didnt stick.
Every time, he blamed the investigations on politics just like when his law office was the target of a fire that authorities said was intentionally set.
Pizzi, a divorced father of two, first came to South Florida in 1988 and worked in Opa-locka and Liberty City as a parole officer. He now lives in a townhouse and drives a bright blue Kia Optima, which was still parked outside City Hall Tuesday evening.
Prior to Tuesday, Pizzis most recent headlines have stemmed from his Sept. 6th boxing match with Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez to raise funds for charity.
Pizzi had been training every morning. His trainer, Mickey Demos, said Pizzi arrived in good spirits at the Biscayne Boxing & Fitness Club at 7 a.m. Tuesday. They practiced for about an hour before the mayor left for an 8:30 a.m. appointment.
Said Demos: I am assuming the fight is off.