NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP/WSVN) – The mayor of a South Florida city was arrested on illegal voting charges Wednesday following months of accusations that he no longer lived in the city where he served.

North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo was booked into the Miami-Dade jail on three felony counts of voting in a district where he didn’t live. He was freed a short time later on $5,000 bail. DeFillipo’s attorney Michael Pizzi denied the allegations and told the Miami Herald they look forward to a speedy exoneration.

7News cameras on Wednesday afternoon captured DeFillipo as he walked out of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade.

When asked about his charges and whether he had anything to say to his constituents, DeFillipo replied, “Everything is under investigation, and we will prevail.”

A complaint filed six months ago with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust accused DeFillipo of living in Davie, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of North Miami Beach and in a different county.

The lawsuit alleged that DeFillipo lived outside of city limits, which violates residency requirements for elected officials.

DeFillipo’s arrest comes a month or so after the City of North Miami Beach decided to drop its lawsuit against him.

“From the beginning, this was a bought-and-paid-for, massive political witch hunt by political opponents of the mayor who want to maintain control of the City of North Miami Beach’s purse strings,” said Pizzi.

Three city leaders were in protest of the allegations after they refused to attend a commission meeting back in January where DeFillipo continued to deny the allegations.

“I am an investor,” said DeFillipo at the January commission meeting. “I invest in properties — I buy and sell properties — so they are assuming I live in a property that I don’t. I live here in North Miami Beach. I always have.”

The protests prevented the dais from making decisions because of the lack of quorum. The debacle over DeFillipo even led the city attorney at the time, Hans Ottinot, to resign in March.

Prosecutors began to investigate DeFillipo after he admitted during a March deposition to purchasing a home in Davie, but he said it was for his family to live in while dealing with marital issues.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that DeFillipo was living primarily at his Davie home when he voted in August, October and November 2022 for a district he was no longer legally qualified to vote in.

“He voted illegally three times: in August of 2022, in the primary election, then again later in the general election of October 2022, and then again in the general election in November of 2022,” she said.

Location data tracking DeFillipo’s cell phone showed that he was spending most of his nighttime hours in Davie during the months of the three elections, prosecutors said.

Authorities said DeFillipo did not update his address, and when he voted in three elections, he signed off on it, pretending to still live at a specific address in North Miami Beach.

DeFillipo not only faces a possible city charter violation but three election code/unqualified voter felonies.

“Our voting laws apply to everyone, anyone voting in any election,” said Fernandez Rundle. “There are no unwritten exceptions.”

But Pizzi said the allegations against his client will not stand up to closer scrutiny.

“Mayor DeFillipo will be completely exonerated, and he looks forward to having his day in court, in the American justice system and being exonerated,” he said.

A spokesperson for North Miami Beach issued a statement that reads, “Following the news conference by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the City of North Miami Beach will watch closely as the legal process runs its course. To rebuild trust in this community is no small feat; however, we are focused on earning your confidence back. NMB is a resilient community, and together we will emerge stronger from this. We thank you for your continued support as we work towards a more transparent and accountable city government.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis can suspend DeFillipo pending the outcome of this case, but as of Wednesday night, no decision has been announced.

DeFillipo was first elected mayor in 2018. Before that, he served as a city commissioner since 2013.

Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox