Florida Christian Coalition Leader and Others Arrested on Petition Fraud Charges
Four arrested over petition against Miami-Dade's gay rights law
Four representatives of Take Back Miami-Dade, an effort largely tied to the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition aimed at repealing the county's extending of anti-discrimination laws to sexual orientation, have been arrested.
The arrested include Anthony Verdugo, chairman of the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition, a 17-year-old volunteer, and two notaries public. The charges stem from Take Back Miami-Dade's collection of 50,000 signatures for a referendum to repeal the sexual-orientation part of the anti-discrimination law.
Verdugo and the teen, Christian Montoya, are charged with falsely swearing to having witnessed signatures, a third-degree felony. The two notaries public, Nayibe Busse and Ralph Patterson, are charged with illegally notarizing their own signatures, also a third-degree felony.
Special prosecutor John Aguero told The Miami Herald there's evidence that at least some of the signatures were faked, but he wouldn't file forgery charges because he doesn't know who forged them. "All a handwriting expert will tell you is that the person whose name on it is not the one who signed," he said. "These are people who certainly committed a fraud on the public. That's why they are being prosecuted."
SAVE Dade, an organization working to keep the anti-discrimination law, claims as many as 2,500 petition signatures are fake, says the Herald.
"This is the work of the homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual mafia that wants to destroy our families and take away the right of every Dade County citizen to vote," said the defendants' lawyer, Rosa Armesto de González.
The Miami-Dade Christian Coalition makes a similar argument on its website. "Homosexualists are using the State Attorney's ...