Six months after a complaint was filed with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust against North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo, the Democrat has been arrested and charged with three counts of voter fraud.
DeFillipo now faces a possible suspension from office by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and up to 15 years in prison.
According to the Miami Herald, the ethics complaint alleged that DeFillipo violated a North Miami Beach city charter, which requires elected officials to actually live in the city. DeFillipo, the complaint argued, lived in the town of Davie in Broward County.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office tracked DeFillipo using cell phone data as he drove from Davie to North Miami Beach where, in August, October, and November, he cast ballots in three elections.
We in law enforcement take actions which violate our election laws very seriously. They are crimes. Today, we are charging Anthony DeFillipo, the present Mayor @NorthMiamiBeach, with 3 counts of Unqualified Voters Willfully Voting, 3rd degree felonies. pic.twitter.com/pUICntyegS
— Kathy Rundle (@KathyFndzRundle) May 31, 2023
“It wasn’t as if, ‘Oops, I forgot once.'” she told the Herald. “This is three times in rapid succession.”
Each of the charges is a third-degree felony and carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. DeFillipo has denied the allegations.
“We look forward to a speedy exoneration,” his attorney, Michael Pizzi, told the Herald in a text message.
The mayor was picked up at a property he owns in North Miami Beach — a move Pizzi criticized.
“They had an ethical obligation to allow him to voluntarily surrender,” he said.
According to the Herald:
DeFillipo has repeatedly denied the allegations surrounding his residency and insisted he lives in North Miami Beach. His business is TD Managing Enterprise and property records show he has bought and sold a number of properties in recent years, including several in North Miami Beach and Davie.
In a March deposition, DeFillipo admitted to purchasing a Davie home but said it was for his family to live in, citing marital issues. He also admitted to serving on the homeowners association board for the Davie community.
DeFillipo and his wife purchased the two-story, six-bedroom home in the Sierra Ranches community for $1,226,500 in July 2022, according to Broward County property records. He testified the family moved into the home a month later.
The mayor also testified in March that he lived in North Miami Beach and “moved several times within the city during this period, selling his North Miami Beach home, moving in with his ailing mother for a spell, and ultimately moving into a one-bedroom condo in late 2022,” the outlet reports.
According to the warrant, DeFillipo broke Florida law when he failed to change his address with the DMV until December 2022, outside the 30-day requirement. It wasn’t until after he voted in the elections that he changed his address with the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
“Not changing your address with the Department of Elections is not in and of itself a crime,” Rundle noted. “What is a crime is when you knowingly vote outside of your registered area.”
The question of DeFillipo’s residency has impacted the city’s ability to operate.
Three city commissioners have protested the situation by refusing to attend commission meetings. Without them in attendance, the commission is left without a quorum to conduct city business.
“I feel very badly for North Miami Beach,” Rundle said. “They’re a lovely municipality in our beautiful larger Miami-Dade County and I feel bad that they’re going to have to go through this.”
DeFillipo was bonded out of jail on Wednesday afternoon, the same day he was arrested, CBS News Miami reported.
“Our voting laws apply to everyone,” Rundle said, according to CBS. “There are no unwritten exceptions.”
DeFillipo’s arrest marks the third time a mayor of North Miami Beach has been arrested in 11 years.
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