A Charlotte County Airport Authority Commissioner was arrested Thursday for falsifying election documents.
Commissioner James W. Herston faces counts of unauthorized or unlawful acts related to a driver’s license or identification card and criminal use of personal identification information, both third-degree felonies. He also faces two counts of perjury, a misdemeanor.
State Attorney Amira Fox announced the charges after issuing a warrant for Herston’s arrest.
“Anyone holding a public office must follow the law and maintain public confidence in their role in the community,” Fox said in a statement. “To do anything less is to erode public trust in the political process. Election rules and state laws are in place to assure the political system is just and fair.”
Herston was elected in 2020 to a four-year term on the Airport Authority. He ran for the District 5 seat unopposed. An investigation by the State Attorney’s Office, however, found that he did not live in District 5 for the period required. Bylaws for the Airport Authority require each Commissioner to reside within their district for at least six months before qualifying for office.
The position is a partisan one and Herston ran as a Republican. The State Attorney’s Office received allegations Herston never resided in the district at all.
Fox, the State Attorney for Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit, is also a Republican.
Herston raised all of $26 for the office, enough to cover the qualifying fee with $1 to spare.
In Florida, third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The Airport Authority is made up of five commissioners, and Herston served as vice chair of the board. He remains listed as an officeholder on the organization’s official website.
It’s unclear what alerted the State Attorney’s Office to investigate Herston.
Last updated on March 24, 2022