Eatonville Mayor Anthony Grant, Two Others, Charged with Election Fraud
Eatonville Mayor Anthony Grant and two alleged co-conspirators face felony charges from the state after a one-year investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into last year’s mayoral election in the historically black town.
Following witness testimonies from Eatonville residents and current and past officials, a grand jury moved to indict Grant, James Randolph, and Mia Antoinette Nowells on 25 counts having to do with who filled out absentee ballots and how they did it in the municipal race. The counts range from voter ballot solicitation to corruptly influencing voting.
Over the course of six months state attorney Jeff Ashton says more than a handful of witnesses, including unassuming voters, testified before a grand jury. They alleged Grant, Randolph, and Nowells coerced and intimidated them into casting absentee ballots.
“Somebody that they saw as a position of authority was telling them to do something and many of them were doing it not because they wanted to, but because they felt they had to,” said state attorney Jeff Ashton in a press conference.
He said evidence shows at least five absentee ballots used were fraudulent. At least one of these ballots was cast by a voter who was not living in Eatonville at the time of the election.
The case caught attention from the FDLE after former mayor Bruce Mount filed a suit alleging Grant committed voter fraud.
Special agent Danny Banks lead the investigation in tandem with the lawsuit.
“Today, the Town of Eatonville has retaken control of their government and they’ve set the stage for future growth and opportunity within their own community. This case was always about just one thing: It was giving the citizens of the town of Eatonville the opportunity to finally be heard,” he added at the press conference.
Grant, Randolph, and Nowells face up to five years in prison for each count. As of the press conference, Randolph and Nowells had been arrested.
Whether Grant will remain mayor of the historically black town is up to Governor Rick Scott.
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