Mayor Calls for Independent Investigation in Village Commissioner Controversy - NBC 6 South Florida

Mayor Calls for Independent Investigation in Village Commissioner Controversy



    Call for Independent Probe into North Bay Village Official

    The tranquility in a community many of you drive through on the way to Miami Beach has been shattered. There is now a call for an independent investigation into the past of a South Florida village commissioner. This comes as a result of an NBC 6 investigation into a political controversy in North Bay Village.

    (Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017)

    The mayor of North Bay Village wants an independent investigation into a controversy swirling around a commissioner.

    Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps made the request for an investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office after learning what the NBC 6 Investigators discovered about Dr. Douglas Hornsby's past.  

    Hornsby was convicted in a felony in 1992 but signed voter registration applications twice checking the box that indicated he was not a convicted felon.

    Commissioners in North Bay Village have to be a registered voter to serve. And to be a registered voter, you can’t have a felony conviction or you have to have had your right to vote restored. Both voter registration applications were filled out before Hornsby had his voting rights restored in 2005.

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    Hornsby was appointed in January 2017 to the commission.

    At a recent meeting, Hornsby told fellow commissioners he needed time to speak. It was then he admitted he had a drug conviction in Tennessee. He said he was making it public that he had a conviction for selling cocaine in 1992 because he and his wife were receiving threats he called blackmail.

    “This is somebody outside that's doing this to get me… off the commission or to vote another way,” Hornsby stated at the meeting.

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    Hornsby says he recently started getting the threats by mail and over the phone. He says they were designed to ruin his political and medical career and his marriage.

    “I started getting letters --poison pen letters. Anonymous letters describing I was going to be outed to tell the public I was such a terrible person,” he said during the meeting.

    The police chief, Carlos Noriega, says Hornsby's accusations launched an investigation into what’s being called "extreme politically motivated crimes." He says those investigations involve FDLE and even the FBI.

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    Mayor Leon-Kreps says she wasn't aware of the specifics of Hornsby's past until told by the NBC 6 Investigators.

    According to public records in Tennessee, Hornsby had a drug conviction in 1992 in Shelby County, Tennessee that sent him to prison. After being released, he was on parole until 1999.

    Because of the felony conviction, he lost his right to vote. But that’s not what Hornsby said previously at the meeting.

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    “I have never lost my right to vote," he said at the meeting. “I've voted for years in Tennessee and then 20 years here in Florida."

    Officials in Tennessee told us Hornsby had his right to vote restored in 2005.

    But Miami Dade Elections provided his voter registration application dated in 1998 while he was still on parole in Tennesse.  The box is marked that the applicant isn't a convicted felon. Another application from 2004 when Hornsby moved to North Bay Village has the same box marked.

    Attorney Herbert Erving Walker III, a former prosecutor and now defense attorney reviewed the public records obtained by the NBC 6 Investigators.

    “He's voting fraudulently," Walker said. “There appears to be a clear conflict between what you have--the date that you have the restoration in Tennessee in 2005 and two forms from the Miami Dade Elections Commission that show 1998 and 2004 being signed by this individual indicating that he either wasn't convicted or was already restored. There's obviously a conflict."

    The issue for Hornsby now is what’s on the voter registration application. The form says it’s a felony to be dishonest when filling it out.

    Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps is worried. “My concern is the cloud over the Village," she said. “What you have told me is very serious.”

    The Mayor is concerned about a vote of confidence the Commission took for Hornsby at the same meeting where he first spoke about the issue. The vote was based on the City Attorney's recommendation.

    At the meeting, City Attorney Robert Switkes said the vote was needed “ reappoint if that's necessary Commissioner Hornsby and ratify everything that's happened since he was appointed because the legal conundrum just gets larger and larger.”

    “My concern is also why we have to reappoint him and ratify his nomination to the seat if he had already been nominated,” the mayor said.

    The NBC 6 Investigators have tried repeatedly to talk to Dr. Hornsby by phone, email and visits to his home and work. The email to him was returned by the police chief who said he would answer our questions. But Chief Noriega said since the matter is under investigation, he can’t say much about what’s going on other than he’s making progress.

    The NBC 6 Investigators notified the Miami Dade County Elections Department who said they are sending the information to the State Attorney's Office.

    Mayor Leon-Kreps hopes Dr. Hornsby can help clear things up.

    "We are going to have to give Commissioner Hornsby the opportunity to explain it to the residents, to all of us," she said. "We need clarification and full discloure. The residents are owed that. We need to be upfront and tell it like it is." 

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