Scott Batterson appeals bribery conviction to Supreme Court

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A former Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board member now is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2014 state bribery conviction.

Scott Batterson, 40, filed his “petition for a writ of certiorari” on Dec. 12, court dockets show.

The request comes after a three-judge panel of the state’s 5th District Court of Appeal split in upholding the conviction. Judges Wendy Berger and Thomas Sawaya affirmed; Judge Richard Orfinger dissented in favor of overturning.

Orfinger said a bribery charge requires the defendant to receive something in return, and Batterson did not. He has since been ordered into the county jail pending further action in the case.

The appeal went to the U.S. Supreme Court because Batterson is relying on that court’s unanimous decision in June overturning ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell‘s federal corruption convictions.

“To qualify as an ‘official act,’ the public official must make a decision to take an action … or agree to do so,” that opinion says. “Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event – without more – does not fit that definition of ‘official act.’ “

Batterson was convicted in a 2014 scandal in which he was seen as the linchpin of a pay-to-play deal at the expressway authority. The body has since been reorganized as the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

Prosecutors argued he tried to cut a deal with a contractor in exchange for that person hiring friends of his.

On Oct. 17, 2014, Batterson was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison by Circuit Judge Jenifer M. Harris.

Batterson made it clear to the contractor, according to the state’s case, that he and a newly appointed member of the authority’s board, Marco Pena, with help from lobbyist and former Florida House Speaker-designate Chris Dorworth, would be able to gain control of the board and steer a $5 million contract to the contractor.

Batterson and Pena resigned from the board after previously pleading guilty to charges of violating the state’s open-meeting laws.

Staff Reports


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