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Former candidate launches online petition to have trial moved out of Hernando County

BROOKSVILLE — Facing two felony charges for allegedly presenting falsified documents to county elections officials in order to meet the requirements to run for public office, Brooksville community activist Paul Boston has launched an online petition drive seeking support for, among other things, moving his court case to another jurisdiction.

In his July 10 posting, titled "Abuse of powers by authorities in Brooksville, Florida," Boston addressed a list of complaints against Brooksville city officials as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, whom he claims have harassed and intimidated him.

"These are the same officials who can, with a phone call, have a person tried, judged and convicted without due process of the law," Boston wrote. He also claimed that those same officials are "in position to benefit from the removal and destruction of this community."

Boston, 54, turned himself in to authorities June 29 after learning that the State Attorney's Office had issued a warrant for his arrest. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Hernando County Circuit Court.

Boston said Friday that he started the online petition in the hope of garnering 50 signatures in support of his request to move his trial. Once completed, he intends to present it to the court.

"I don't feel I can get a fair trial here in Hernando County," Boston said. "There are just too many powerful people who are against me."

Boston's legal troubles began soon after he filed as a challenger for Seat 3 on the Brooksville City Council, which is held by Joe Johnston III. In an affidavit, he claimed to have met the one-year residency requirement to qualify as a candidate.

However, a Brooksville police investigation found a discrepancy in Boston's claim that he had lived with his daughter, LaRhonda Travick, at Hillside Estates prior to moving into another unit there.

According to police Chief George Turner, Travick said she wasn't the author of the notarized affidavit that Boston presented to election officials, but instead had signed a different document written by Boston that she had not read.

Investigators also allege that Deron Mikal, a notary public and a friend of Boston's, witnessed the affidavit, even though Travick wasn't present before him to sign the document or provide identification — two requirements to make the document legal.

Boston was eventually disqualified from the race when election officials determined he wasn't eligible to run. Johnston won the seat uncontested. Since then, Boston has maintained that the incident was the result of a "clerical error" that city officials jumped on in an effort to derail his plans to run for office.

"I feel that my indictment is a good thing," Boston wrote in his petition. "It can be used as a vehicle to bring many of these concerns to light … (giving) not only myself but the system and the government a chance to answer some of these concerns."

Boston, who has been active in community affairs in south Brooksville for several years, said he plans to represent himself in his case.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Former candidate launches online petition to have trial moved out of Hernando County 07/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 7:04pm]

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