State Rep. Reggie Fullwood’s fraud trial will go ahead as planned next month, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard denied a motion by the Democratic lawmaker to dismiss 10 counts of wire fraud and let him simply address four charges of failing to file tax returns.
“The simple answer is the motion has to be denied,” Howard told attorneys who mapped out plans to launch the trial Oct. 11 and finish by Oct. 21, if not sooner.
Fullwood is scheduled to face Republican Mark Griffin in the Nov. 8 general election for the District 13 seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
The lawmaker’s attorney, Robert Willis, asked Howard last month to dismiss the wire fraud charges, which involved Fullwood funneling money out of his campaign account online and into the bank account of a company Fullwood once ran, but had closed.
FLORIDA TIMES-UNION | Judge denies dismissal of State Rep. Reggie Fullwood's fraud charges
From there, prosecutors claimed, Fullwood used the money to pay bills at restaurants, grocery stores, jewelers and other places that had nothing to do with the election campaign.
That might be against Florida’s elections law, Willis had argued, but it didn’t fit the federal definition of wire fraud.
By law, he said, wire fraud has to involve cheating people out of their money or valuables.
People who gave to the campaign had already handed over their cash before it was moved into Fullwood’s company bank account, Willis argued, so they couldn’t be counted as victims.
But Devereaux said in a court filing last week that the charge is broader than the defense claimed, quoting an earlier court that described “a “reflection of moral uprightness, of fundamental honesty, fair play and right dealing.”
Quoting the indictment, the prosecutor said Fullwood asked for donations, controlled the campaign account, transferred money away for personal uses and invented fake campaign expenses to hide where money was really going. In case there was a question, Devereaux attached reports on an FBI agent’s interviews with five campaign donors who said they wouldn’t have given to Fullwood’s campaign if they knew it would be spent for personal costs.