Gov. Rick Scott suspends Eatonville mayor charged with election fraud
Grand jury releases decision; 25 charges to be filed
EATONVILLE, Fla. – Eatonville Mayor Anthony Grant has been suspended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, hours after he bonded out of the Orange County Jail in connection with election fraud charges.
The Governor's Office tells News 6 that Grant was suspended on Tuesday afternoon and that the executive order is being sent.
After turning himself in to authorities Tuesday morning, Grant told News 6 that he planned to go golfing.
A news conference was held Monday to announce a grand jury's findings into the investigation of the 2015 Eatonville municipal election. James Randolph and Mia Antionette Nowells also face charges, according to officials.
The trio is accused of using intimidation and manipulation to tell people for whom to vote. There are also allegations that people who weren't from Eatonville voted in the election.
"The basic accusation in the conspiracy count is that these three conspired together to essentially present votes as if they were legitimate," State Attorney Jeff Ashton said.
The lawsuit that sparked the investigation alleged that Grant bribed people for votes; however, no charges have been filed in connection with those allegations.
The three face 25 total charges, all but three of them third-degree felonies. The other three are misdemeanor charges. Each felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Ashton said the election fraud investigation has been one of his longest investigations. The FDLE investigation lasted for a year, and a grand jury heard the case for six months. Grand jury members looked at evidence and heard testimony from voters from Eatonville.
"This case serves as an example and brings a message to all of our communities," FLDE Special Agent Danny Banks said. "Corruption in politics does exist, and it exists in Central Florida, but it's important to continuously try to weed out those corrupt officials who are the bare few in the community."
The investigation was sparked by a lawsuit filed last year.
"The town of Eatonville has retaken control of their government and they have set the state for future growth within their community to be clear," Banks said.
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