Jacobs, Ketcham set to testify in investigation into expressway board members



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - On Thursday an Orange County grand jury will begin investigating some of the board members who control central Florida’s toll roads, and whether they plotted an illegal takeover.

The Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority Board Chairman Walter Ketcham and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs are the only two board members not under investigation. They will both testify as witnesses.

The Orange County grand jury wants to find out whether toll agency board members Scott Batterson, Marco Pena, and Florida Department of Transportation District Secretary Noranne Downs, secretly plotted together, to vote out interim director Max Crumit, so they could vote in State Rep. Steve Precourt.

Precourt did not meet the job requirements.

If they did communicate behind the scenes, it could be a violation of the Florida Sunshine Law.

Batterson, Pena and Downs outnumbered Ketcham and Jacobs in the vote.

On Wednesday, Jacobs said she’s disappointed it’s come to this and she wants the truth to come out.

“I don’t think that I’ll ever feel comfortable with the way that [vote] took place, regardless of what can be proved and not proved,” she said. “I think a lot of the public is in the same position and that’s extremely unfortunate.”

In January, State Attorney Jeff Ashton warned the board not to hire Precourt until the investigation was finished.

Ketcham asked for the investigation into why Batterson, Pena, and downs seemed to be prepared to vote out Crumit, even though the issue was not on the meeting agenda.

He also wants the investigation to reveal why Downs decided at the last minute to come back from vacation and attend the meeting.

Jacobs is scheduled to testify Thursday morning.