Artilles, Rodriguez pleads not guilty for charges related to independent candidate system

Former Republican Senator Frank Artilles pleaded not guilty and sought a jury trial in a high-profile public corruption case at Miami’s 11th Judicial Circuit on Friday.

Artiles, a lawyer who filed a written denial of charges in advance, hired Alexis Pedro Rodriguez, an auto parts dealer and long-time acquaintance, for paying to run for independent in the Senate district of Miami-Dade. Is being asked. 37 races.

The prosecution said the goal of the plan was to “confuse voters and influence the outcome” of the race, ultimately representing a wide range of Miami-Dade, including downtown Miami, Coral Gables and Pinecrest. It was to do.

Artilles and Rodriguez have been charged with four felony charges related to the plan. These include conspiracies to make or accept election donations that exceed legal limits, accept and make those excessive election donations, false oaths related to elections, and support for false voter information (and ultimately submissions). )It is included.

Under state law, these charges can be sentenced to up to five years’ imprisonment if convicted.

Rodriguez also wrote his acquittal.

Both men moved to the Turner Gilford Night Correction Center in Miami on March 18, and were released hours later.

Neither Artires nor Rodriguez attended the hearing, which took place on Zoom and lasted less than 10 minutes.

“We look forward to a day in court,” said Frank Quintero, one of Artilles’ defense lawyers.

“We are going to plead not guilty and Mr. Artilles is looking forward to proving his innocence,” he told the Miami Herald Wednesday.

Both parties will return to court on June 1st to set a hearing date. The state law firm is making a copy of the evidence for Artiles and Rodriguez.

Jose Kinyon, who also represents Artilles, told Judge Andrea Wolfson on Friday that Rodriguez had essentially private evidence, such as a clone of a computer taken from Artilles’ home during a search last month. He said he was against being published in.

Artilles lawyer said Rodriguez could be a co-defendant “by name alone.”

“We feel that the co-defendants are working together or have a contract,” QuiƱon said. “If there is a transaction that has actually been or is in the process of being done, it is important because it affects Mr. Artilles’ rights. Some of the information from the computer is essentially fairly private. It is a thing. “

Rodriguez’s lawyer, William Barsey, did not attend the hearing and declined to comment.

Many unanswered questions

Prosecutors have charged Artilles and Rodriguez, but investigations are still open and many protracted questions about whether the case can be extended to other 2020 Florida Senate races featuring mysterious independent candidates. there is.

Investigators are also looking at the money behind more than $ 500,000 in political mail that advertised other independent candidates. One is Central Florida and the other is Miami Dade. Money was previously untraceable, as some investigators of about $ 50,000 said Artilles paid Rodriguez.

The prosecution has not yet nominated a third party accused of withdrawing $ 9,000 from the bank to hand over to Rodriguez.

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