ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
A member of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board has been indicted by a grand jury on one count of bribery and two counts of soliciting unlawful compensation as a public official, second-degree felonies.
Bond for Scott Batterson has been set at $3,000, and more indictments could be forthcoming.
The charges stem from an investigation by State Attorney Jeff Ashton into the removal of the authority's former director, Max Crumit and whether or not there was a violation of Florida's "Sunshine Law," which calls for proceedings of government agencies to be open or available to the public.
While investigating emails exchanged among authority board members and attending meetings, the State Attorney's Office said concerns were raised over Batterson's connection to a land deal near the Wekiva Parkway, the northwestern portion of a loop surrounding Orlando which will connect Interstate 4 to the Western Beltway (SR 429) in Apopka.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Ashton referenced the hiring of subcontractors suggested by Batterson in a "consulting contract or arrangement."
As Orange County's mayor, Teresa Jacobs is also a board member of the authority. Jacobs and two other members of the board, Chairman Walter Ketcham and Noranne Downs, voluntarily testified before the grand jury on Thursday.
Batterson was appointed to the authority by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.
"Today, my office took immediate action to suspend Scott Batterson from the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority," Gov. Scott said in a statement sent to FOX 35. "All public officials must be held to the highest ethical standards - and we support State Attorney Jeff Ashton's efforts to hold public officials accountable."
If convicted, Batterson faces a maximum of 15 years in prison