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Scott Batterson bribery conviction upheld on appeal

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Former Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board member Scott Batterson‘s 2014 bribery conviction has been upheld on appeal.

On Friday, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the trial court conviction without comment.

Batterson was convicted in a 2014 scandal in which he was seen as the linchpin of a pay-to-play deal at the expressway authority. The state had argued that Batterson tried to cut a deal with a contractor in exchange for the contractor hiring friends of his.

On Oct. 17, 2014, Batterson was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison by Orange County Judge Jennifer Davis. He has been out on bail since.

Batterson had made it clear to the contractor, according to the state’s case, that he and a newly appointed member of the authority’s board, Marco Pena, with help from lobbyist and former Florida House Speaker-designee Chris Dorworth, would be able to gain control of the board and steer a $5 million contract to the contractor.

The appeals court upheld the conviction by a 2-1 vote, with Judges Wendy Berger and Thomas Sawaya voting to affirm, and Judge Richard Orfinger dissenting.

Orfinger offered a dissenting opinion that argued that a bribery charge requires the perpetrator to receive something in return, but that Batterson did not.

Batterson and Pena resigned from the board after previously pleading guilty to charges of violating the state’s open-meeting laws.

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Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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