Florida Lawmaker Faces Fraud Charges Over Campaign Cash

A state representative from Jacksonville has been indicted on charges he used more than $65,000 in campaign contributions on personal expenses like liquor, jewelry, flowers and groceries, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jacksonville announced Friday.

The indictment says Democratic Rep. Reggie Fullwood of Jacksonville funneled about $65,000 from his campaign account through a business account and then spent it on himself. He is charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of failing to file tax returns. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and a year for each count of filing to file.

"Public officials, whether elected or appointed, hold positions of trust in the eyes of the public. That trust is broken when these officials commit crimes," Internal Revenue Service special agent Kim Lappin said in a press release announcing the indictment. "No public official gets a free pass to ignore the tax laws."

Fullwood didn't immediately reply to a message left at his office. He didn't answer multiple calls to his cellphone and his voice mailbox was full and couldn't take messages.

According to the indictment, Fullwood said that once money was transferred to his business account, he used an ATM card issued to his business at restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores, jewelry stores, florists, gas stations, liquor stores and cash machines.

It says he submitted fraudulent campaign finance reports with inflated or non-existent campaign expenses in order to cover up the personal expenses.

Fullwood, 41, was first elected in 2010 and temporarily left office after failing to qualify for the ballot in the 2014 election. He returned to office after a special election in 2015.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, in a statement released by his office, called the charges "serious."

"Rep. Fullwood has been indicted but has not had his day in court yet," Crisafulli said. "These are serious charges that he must answer."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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