Gov. Rick Scott suspends Eatonville mayor after election-fraud indictment

Gov. Rick Scott suspends Eatonville mayor after election-fraud indictment

EATONVILLE, Fla. — Eatonville Mayor Anthony Grant was released from jail on bail early Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him on election-fraud charges.

Authorities said they investigated a complaint that he allegedly bribed voters.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott suspended Grant without pay Tuesday afternoon.

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Grant will not be allowed to perform any official act, duty, or function, of public office.

There are new concerns over who is in charge of the historic town of Eatonville after Scott suspended Grant.

WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong said it’s unusual in Florida for a politician to allegedly get caught cheating in an election.

Eatonville Town Council member Theo Washington said Vice Mayor Angela Thomas will fill the mayoral duties.

A warrant was put out for Grant's arrest and he surrendered at the Orange County Jail about 10 p.m. Monday.

Two of Grant's campaign workers, James Randolph and Mia Antoinette Nowells, were also indicted by the grand jury. Both were arrested and booked into jail. %



Nowells also bonded out of jail Tuesday morning.

Grant won the 2015 race with more than double the number of absentee votes than his opponent, Bruce Mount.

State Attorney Jeff Ashton said in a news conference Monday that Grant offered bribes and lowered rent in exchange for votes by absentee ballots.

“Sometimes, the ballots were obtained through coercion of the voters, sometimes telling the voters who to vote (for) and sometimes both,” said Ashton.

An investigation into Grant and his campaign workers by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began after Mount sued, seeking a new election. %



FDLE spent a year investigating the allegations and said the evidence came from residents of Eatonville.

Grant, Randolph and Nowells were each indicted on one count of conspiring to violate election code, one count of soliciting or attempting to vote fraudulent ballots, one count of voting fraud, one count interference with voting registration, two counts of absentee ballot voting violations, six counts of unlawfully marking or designating ballot choice, six counts of violation of the Voter Protection Act and six counts of corruptly influencing voting by intimidation.

Randolph and Grant were each indicted for an additional count of absentee ballot voting violations.

Grant has always insisted he did nothing wrong.

He had no comment as he was being taken to jail.

Eatonville is a suburb of Orlando and is a historically African-American community of 2,200 residents.

It's also one of the country's first historically black towns and the hometown of writer Zora Neale Hurston.

It should be noted that Mount works as an engineer for WFTV Channel 9.