Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Charles Maddox (D) and political consultant Janice Paige Carter-Smith were indicted Wednesday on racketeering, bank fraud, bribery and other charges, in the first results to emerge from a years-long federal investigation into corruption in Florida’s capital city.
Both pleaded not guilty in an appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon, and a trial date was set for Jan. 14, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) also issued an executive order suspending Maddox from his position on the city commission.
The 44-count indictment made no mention of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), who last month fell short in his bid to become Florida’s governor. Gillum had said that the FBI told him he was not a “focus” of its investigation, although a separate state ethics commission probe revealed details that hung over his campaign during the final weeks of the race, including that an undercover FBI agent purchased a “Hamilton” ticket for Gillum in 2016.
Maddox had served as mayor and chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, while Carter-Smith was Maddox’s chief of staff and business partner.
Wednesday’s federal grand jury indictment alleges that Maddox and Carter-Smith conspired to run two companies as one, known as Governance, in a far-reaching racketeering scheme.
“The defendants used Maddox’s official position as a City Commissioner to extort money and solicit bribes from companies with business interests in Tallahassee,” the indictment states.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Justice, Maddox “voted on matters and exerted influence on City employees to take actions that benefitted the businesses that paid Maddox and Carter-Smith through Governance.” Both individuals also allegedly made false statements to the FBI, defrauded a bank of more than $250,000 and filed false tax returns.
Maddox had previously denied any participation in a bribery scheme; Carter-Smith has said through an attorney that she expects to be cleared in the case, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.