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Central Florida ghost candidate will testify in court Monday

An American flag flies over Comerica Park in the ninth inning of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants in Detroit, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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An American flag flies over Comerica Park in the ninth inning of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants in Detroit, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A former substitute teacher is expected to testify in court Monday that she was recruited for a vote-siphoning scheme by the Seminole County GOP Chairman.

Jestine Iannotti is expected to testify in court that Seminole County GOP Chairman Ben Paris asked her to run as an independent in the District 9 Senate race back in 2020. 

Paris’ goal was to help former boss Republican Senator Jason Brodeur win his election by using Iannotti to siphon off votes from competitor Democrat Patricia Segman.

Paris now faces one criminal charge of contributing to Iannotti’s campaign under his cousin’s name. 

Iannotti faces a felony charge and five misdemeanors and political advisor Eric Foglesong faces three felony charges and two misdemeanors for the scheme. 

Brodeur claims he didn’t know anything about Paris’ plans to use a so-called ghost candidate, an independent candidate added to a ballot to help fix an election.

It’s unclear whether the scheme worked in the race, but elsewhere in Florida ghost candidate Alex Rodriguez pleaded guilty in a scheme to help elect Republican Ileana Garcia.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.