TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – A former Tallahassee Mayor and city lobbyist are facing a maximum of 45 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to three counts in a case stemming from an FBI probe into City Hall that had implications in last year’s Governor’s race.
Three-time statewide candidate, former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner Scott Maddox and lobbyist Paige Carter-Smith were silent as they entered the federal courthouse.
The two faced 47 counts stemming from an FBI probe that began in 2015.
They emerged after pleading guilty to mail, wire, and tax fraud in a pay to play scheme, where at least two companies, including an unnamed rideshare company, paid for Maddox’s vote during his time on the city commission.
Maddox declined to comment, but his attorney Stephen Dobson said his client was ready to accept responsibility.
“He wants to move on for his life, his family’s life, and Tallahassee and he hopes Tallahassee heals,” said Dobson.
The two face a maximum of 45 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, but they could receive a lighter sentence if they cooperate with the Federal Government.
“We hope that these defendants will now come forward, fully accept their responsibility and cooperate,” said US Attorney of Florida’s Northern District Lawrence Keefe.
For local property owner Erwin Jackson, who has long sought to expose corruption in the capital city, the prospect of a lighter sentence is upsetting.
“So far what we’ve heard is that crime does pay, white-collar crime does pay,” said Jackson.
Federal prosecutors declined to say if more indictments may be on the way for other city officials or companies that may have offered bribes for votes.
The probe into City Hall was used as political fodder against former Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
Earlier this year the FBI subpoenaed records from Gillum’s Gubernatorial campaign, although Gillum hasn’t been directly named in the Maddox case.
There’s also a third defendant facing nine counts, JT Burnett, a local Tallahassee businessman who is set to go to trial in November.
Maddox and Carter Smith are scheduled to be sentenced on November 19th.
While the other charges in the case were dropped, the judge said facts relating to those charges could influence the sentence he imposes.