A circuit court judge on Tuesday delayed one of Florida’s most high-profile public corruption cases another 60 days after the state attorney’s office in Miami requested more time to gather reports requested by the defense.
Lawyers for former state Sen. Frank Artiles, who faces several felony charges for allegedly recruiting and paying an acquaintance to run in a state senate race, said they have been trying to take sworn depositions of law enforcement officers involved in the case but have not received “lead agent reports” from the state attorney’s office. Tim VanderGiesen, a public-corruption attorney in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, attributed the delay to “voluminous” discovery documents and an ongoing investigation into other aspects of the candidate scheme.
Artiles’ lawyer, Frank Quintero, said the delay on documents, which he requested in April, delays the defense team from taking depositions.
“The defense does not control when the lead detective on a case prepares a report. All the defense can do is request it, which we have,” Quintero told the Miami Herald after the hearing. “Once we have it, then we can proceed to take depositions. Without those reports, it would be a waste of time to take any deposition of any law enforcement officers.”
The trial was originally set to begin Aug. 30. A Miami circuit court judge then set a check-in hearing date for Tuesday, after Artiles’ lawyers asked for more time to interview witnesses and review evidence. The parties will return to court for another status update on Dec. 21, during which the judge will likely set a trial date.
Investigators allege Artiles paid Alexis Pedro Rodriguez nearly $45,000 to run as a no-party candidate in Senate District 37 in the 2020 election. Both men turned themselves in last March.
Rodriguez, an auto parts salesman, entered into a plea with prosecutors in August and will serve as a witness in the state’s case. He originally pleaded not guilty on charges related to the scheme, including taking donations that exceed the legal limit and lying on sworn campaign documents. Investigators say Rodriguez marked that he lived in a Palmetto Bay home when he was actually renting a house in Boca Raton at the time of the election.
Knowingly filing an incorrect address with the state — or assisting someone to do so — is a third-degree felony. Discovery records released so far show that Miami investigators are also looking beyond Artiles and Rodriguez, who so far are the only ones to face criminal charges, to find the source of the money and understand the breadth of the alleged scheme.
The documents reveal pieces of a scheme that may have involved not only the former senator, but also a young Tallahassee consultant, Artiles’ brother-in-law, a pollster and former vice president of the Associated Industries of Florida, and one of the most prominent GOP operatives in the state.
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“There was a parallel investigation into some other matters,” VanderGiesen told the judge Tuesday. “The investigation did not end with the first arrest.”