Frank Artiles, 47, turned himself in to authorities in Miami in the future after his house was searched by investigators with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

The county’s high prosecutor, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, accused Artiles at a information convention on Thursday afternoon of paying an outdated good friend virtually $45,000 to mount a fake candidacy meant to illegally sway the election.

Artiles, a Republican operative with a popularity for a foul mouth and sharp elbows, is accused of financing a sham candidate whose candidacy was meant to siphon votes from a reputable Democratic candidate in a state Senate race in South Florida’s thirty seventh District. The candidate has the identical final title as then-Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez however didn’t actively marketing campaign for the seat and has since admitted being recruited as a spoiler.

That man, Alexis P. Rodriguez, 55, was additionally charged in reference to the scheme.

Police remove items from Artiles' homePolice remove items from Artiles' home

Artiles and Rodriguez face similar costs: making or receiving two or extra marketing campaign contributions over or in extra of the boundaries; conspiracy to make or obtain two or extra marketing campaign contributions over or in extra of the boundaries and false swearing in reference to voting or elections.

“We are alleging these various payments blatantly violated Florida election laws,” Fernandez Rundle mentioned. “These payments were intended to influence the outcome of the election.”

The Republican candidate, Ileana Garcia, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, narrowly gained the race by simply 32 votes.

Fernandez Rundle mentioned there was no proof that Garcia had any information of the scheme. A spokeswoman for Garcia mentioned the newly elected senator had by no means met Artiles.

In a textual content to a NCS reporter shortly earlier than Artiles surrendered, his protection lawyer, Greg Chonillo, mentioned his shopper “has been cooperative since the inception of this investigation as well as during the execution of the search warrant. Due to the nature of the charges and potential litigation, we will not comment on any information related to this matter. We fully intend to defend any charges in Court.”

A dark money mystery in Florida centers on the campaign of a spoiler candidate who appeared to help a Republican win by 32 votesA dark money mystery in Florida centers on the campaign of a spoiler candidate who appeared to help a Republican win by 32 votes

Attorney William Barzee, who represents candidate Rodriguez, instructed NCS: “Frank Artiles and his co-conspirators knew they couldn’t beat Jose Javier Rodriguez in a fair election so they rigged it. Artiles cynically targeted and used a vulnerable ‘friend’ with a great name to run in the race in order to confuse voters and steal the election. Alex Rodriguez deeply regrets allowing himself to be used in this way and hopes that by coming forth with the truth he can help to right these wrongs.”

Rodriguez was additionally taken into custody in reference to the case, a corrections official in Miami-Dade County instructed NCS.

Questions started swirling final yr in Florida media and political circles concerning the thirty seventh District election, as NCS reported in November.

Even earlier than his arrest, Artiles was a controversial determine in Florida politics.

According to the Miami Herald, in 2014 he was secretly recorded referring to Muslims as “hajis,” after which later, in 2017, he used the n-word and different derogatory language whereas talking to Black Florida senators.

Artiles later apologized for the remarks, the primary of two incidents that in the end pressured him to step down as state senator.

NCS’s Drew Griffin contributed to this report.


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