A trial was due to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Orlando in a case that alleges former state Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, improperly used campaign funds for personal expenses.
Taylor, 49, who served in the state House of Representatives from 2008 to 2016, was indicted in March on nine counts of wire fraud. Read the indictment here.
If convicted, he will face up to 20 years in prison on each count.
The trial is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Carlos Mendoza, according to an online docket.
Taylor is accused of falsely reporting thousands of dollars in expenditures to the state of Florida during his 2012 and 2014 re-election campaigns, the indictment said.
It alleged, in part, that Taylor “would withdraw cash from the Dwayne L. Taylor Campaign Accounts at automated teller machines (ATMs) ... and, within minutes or hours, deposit the same or a similar amount of cash into one of (his) personal accounts.”
Under Florida law, it is illegal to use campaign money to defray normal living expenses.
The unusual circumstances in the trial include a witness list that has Taylor's former district secretary, Shanee Green, testifying for the prosecution, but Judy Mount, who currently works for Democrats in the House, listed as testifying for Taylor.
Mount is also the current 1st vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
According to United States of America v. Dwayne Leron Taylor, the government's -- or, prosecution's -- witness list, besides Green, names Dion Bellamy, Kevin Bowler, David Brown, Raquel Garcia-Rios, Hemis Ivey, Paul Jess, Mark King, Lisa Lewis and Eileen McLoughlin.
The defendant's witness list, besides Mount, includes Ekecia Taylor, Dolores Guzman, Tim Perrier and Dave Solar.
While Taylor served four years on the City Commission, the Daytona Post editorialized frequently against him. On Oct. 10, 2008, the newspaper wrote, "Despite mounting corruption complaints against the Daytona Beach City Commission, including a failing grade in a state audit that revealed multiple ethics violations and widespread misuse of taxpayers funds, Commissioner Dwayne Taylor is running for election to the Florida House of Representatives."
The paper called his record on the City Commission "abysmal," having "approved every measure that raised the tax burden of Daytona Beach citizens while awarding millions of dollars to multi-millionaire campaign contributors and friends to fund various pet projects and personal hobbies."
The paper credited his victory over much better qualified contenders to a large campaign chest "heavily funded by special interests in Daytona Beach." In the final 2008 election he faced independent Maureen Monahan. Monahan couldn't compete financially. She "rejected funding by special interests which demanded that she be sympathetic to their businesses and causes in exchange for financing her campaign," the newspaper said.
After four terms, Taylor left the Legislature in 2016 because of term limits. Though he first announced he would run for Volusia County Commission chair against Republican Jason Davis, he changed his mind; instead, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress, losing in the District 6 Democratic primary.
In a similar case, former Rep. Reggie Fullwood, a Jacksonville Democrat pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire fraud and one count of failure to file an income tax return. Fullwood was sentenced Feb. 7 to six months of home detention followed by federal supervision for the fraud and tax convictions that forced him out of Florida’s Legislature.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423 Twitter: @NancyLBSmith