Corruption task force hints at more indictments to come

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to officially remove a suspended Tallahassee city commissioner who pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

But a yet-to-be-made-public agreement calls on Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor and chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, and his longtime associate, Paige Carter-Smith, to offer substantial assistance.

On Tuesday, Maddox and Carter-Smith agreed to plead guilty to three charges -- wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit tax fraud. They were originally charged with more than 40 counts each as part of an FBI investigation into corruption at City Hall.

"We hope that these defendants will now come forward, fully accept their responsibility and cooperate by providing truthful information in this case and about any potential criminal conduct beyond the scope of this particular case," said U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe.

Keefe would not say who else could be charged in the case. A third defendant, local developer and hotel owner J.T. Burnette, is also charged.

“We would not be establishing this public trust unit, doing all the things that I am telling you about today, if we were not pursuing all sorts of leads in all sorts of places that I simply can’t share with you," Keefe said.

The plea agreement signed by Maddox and Carter-Smith references a sealed agreement about future cooperation. Maddox’s lawyer, Stephen Dobson, would say nothing.

“I’m not making any comments about that," he said.

But Erwin Jackson, the property owner who took corruption charges to the city commission nearly a decade ago, said it's going to get ugly before it gets better.

“Anyone who has had dealings with Scott in the last 20 years, including a few people down in Miami, probably aren’t going to be sleeping very well because he’s coming after them," Jackson said.

Jackson expects six to eight more indictments. The current investigation began in 2015, but insiders said they don’t expect it to take that long for the next shoe to drop.

In the meantime, newly elected City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow wants the city's contracts with at least two companies at the center of the bribery allegations voided.

“You’re not going to keep those contracts if that’s how you got them,” Matlow said. “So if they are currently being paid, they need to be canceled and we need to start over.”

While the indictments reference Tallahassee business dealings, both Maddox and Carter-Smith had business dealings statewide, which means prosecutors could cast a wide net.