MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One day after a search was conducted at the Palmetto Bay home of former state Senator Frank Artiles, he is now facing corruption charges in connection to last November’s state Senate District 37 race.
Thursday morning, Artiles, joined by his lawyer, turned himself in at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.READ MORE: 'I Am A Conqueror': UFC Fighter, Miami Native Jorge Masvidal's Rise To Success, Sights On UFC Gold
Artiles has been charged with illegal campaign contributions and violations of the election code.
Wednesday’s search at Artiles’ home was conducted as part of an investigation into whether he was involved in funding a third-party candidate, Alex Rodriguez, who likely swayed the key state race.
In the District 37 state Senate seat race, Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez lost to Republican challenger Ileana Garcia.
The race was so close it was subject to a recount.
Garcia won by 32 votes.
Artiles reportedly bragged about recruiting Alex Rodriguez, who shares the same last name as the former Democratic incumbent, to run in the race.
Alex Rodriguez received more than 6,000 votes. He too is facing charges.
“The race had two candidates both named Rodriguez. The incumbent, Senator Javier Jose Rodriguez, and the no-party candidate, Alex Rodriguez. Today we are alleging the November Florida Senate District 37 election involved crimes. Today we are alleging that Frank Artiles paid Alex Pedro Rodriguez almost $45,000 to run as a candidate in this race. Merely to use his name to confuse electors and to falsify qualifying paperwork as a candidate,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Rundle said their investigation found that Garcia was not part of Artiles’ alleged plot. She added that running a non-transparent non-party affiliate candidate, or a ghost candidate, is not a crime in Florida.READ MORE: No Appointment Needed Now At Most Broward Drive-Thru Vaccine Sites
“However, what is a crime is making illegal campaign contributions to get a candidate to run,” said Rundle.
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The State Attorney said Artiles knew he could manipulate Florida’s election system and that is the most blatant aspect of this dirty election trick.
Alex Rodriguez has been cooperating with the State Attorney’s Office for months as part of their investigation of Artiles.
“Frank Artiles and his co-conspirators knew they couldn’t beat Jose Javier Rodriguez in a fair election so they rigged it. Artiles cynically targeted and used a vulnerable “friend” with a great name to run in the race in order to confuse voters and steal the election. Alex Rodriguez deeply regrets allowing himself to be used in this way and hopes that by coming forth with the truth he can help to right these wrongs,” said Alex Rodriguez’s attorney Bill Barzee in a statement.
Election attorney Juan Carlos Planas represented Jose Javier Rodriguez in his recount of the November 2020 election.
“In our investigation, we realize Alex Rodriguez was someone who owed money to many people in town,” Planas said. “And then when you looked at the fact that Alex Rodriguez didn’t really have a campaign. It was a political committee that basically did the ads for him against Jose Javier Rodriguez.”
Alex Rodriguez, who registered as a Republican days before he filed to run, had never been a political candidate before.MORE NEWS: 2 People, Dog Shot By Man Who Got Into Gun Battle With Officers In Hialeah Gardens
Artiles and Rodriguez have both bonded out of jail. As he made his way to out of TGK, Artiles told reporters that the case “will be decided in the courts.”