Florida the rules are different here Chapter LVI
Robert Anderson, a candidate for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District Board, appears to need no training for a career in politics. He's a convicted felon, having plead guilty or no contest to organized fraud and grand theft charges in the 1990's. Mr. Anderson is asking for a second chance, TFM ever the cynic just sees him using his past to help qualify him for public office. After all the public perception of most politicians is that they are all dishonest crooks and liars.
We'll have to see if voters in Lehigh Acres agree. Don't you just love Florida?
Linked to- Bright & Early, Bullwinke Blog, Samantha Burns,
A Lehigh Acres fire board candidate and local activist says he's still in the race despite records obtained by The News-Press on Thursday showing he pleaded guilty or no contest to five felony counts when he lived in Polk County in the 1990s.
"I agree I've done some bad things," Robert Anderson said. "I deserve a second chance."
Anderson, 40, is vying for Seat 2 on the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District Board of Commissioners. He has been a visible figure in Lehigh for several years, speaking at public meetings, organizing protests and stating his views on a well-traveled watchdog Web site.
But Polk County court and sheriff's records show that before Lehigh came to know Anderson as a civic-minded though sometimes-adversarial figure, he compiled a criminal record including grand theft, organized fraud and writing worthless checks.
Anderson pleaded no contest to grand theft, a third-degree felony, in 1998 after his employer, Statewide Building Maintenance in Lakeland, found he had stolen more than $8,000 from the company.
Anderson was an administrative assistant and did the company payroll when company Vice President Douglas Gary discovered Anderson had been giving himself bonuses and overtime pay he hadn't earned totaling $8,870.09 spanning nine months, sheriff's reports show.
Anderson already was serving 10 years' probation at the time.
He was sentenced to five years' probation in 1994 after pleading guilty to organized fraud, a third-degree felony. A judge sentenced him to another five years' probation in 1995 after he pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining property by worthless checks, also a third-degree felony.
Gary, now the company owner, said recently that he did a criminal background check on Anderson before hiring him, but gave him a job away from the public because Anderson's father-in-law was a longtime friend.
He doesn't hold a grudge about the theft.
"Obviously it's a sore subject for me because he stole from my company," Gary said. "He paid restitution to me, and he paid it in full. I believe in live and let live."
Ralph Hemingway, Anderson's sole opponent for the fire board seat, said he was shocked when he heard about Anderson's record Thursday.
Hemingway said he doubted that Anderson could win the public trust needed to hold the position. Lehigh's Fire Board recently passed a $36.2 million budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year.
"It's up to him whether he wants to run," Hemingway said. "It's purely up to him and the voters."
The state's Office of Executive Clemency restored Anderson's civil rights on Oct. 1, 2004, allowing him to vote and hold public office.