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Florida education board chair charged in illegal excavation

Tom Grady pictured while he was representing Naples in the Florida House between 2008 and 2010. (Florida House of Representatives photo)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The chairman of the Florida Board of Education has been charged with illegally excavating in waters around his former property in the Florida Keys.

Federal prosecutors late last month charged Tom Grady with misdemeanor obstruction of navigable water, alleging he excavated at the property without a permit in April 2017.

Grady has pleaded not guilty, court documents show. His attorney, David Oscar Markus, issued a statement saying Grady received approvals for the project from local, state and federal officials.

"Unfortunately, the federal government’s position is that any existing federal permits were insufficient. We look forward to presenting our position and favorably resolving this matter," the statement read.

Grady had recently attracted attention as the Florida education board moved to fine school districts that defied a state ban on mask mandates in the classroom. The board has also approved withholding funding from districts that receive federal grants intended to make up for the state fines.

The charge was first reported by the Key West Citizen.