Arrest warrant towards Cape Coral Councilmember defined

The complete arrest warrant obtained by The Information-Press accommodates info that additional incriminates a Cape Coral Metropolis Council member linked to election fraud.

Martin Kenney, an investigator with the Workplace of the State Lawyer, twentieth Judicial Circuit, signed off on the warrant charging Patty Cummings with three third-degree felonies after discovering possible trigger that Cummings violated three state statutes.

The affidavit for the arrest warrant additional cements the concept Cummings by no means lived in her district, {that a} fellow councilmember urged her to run and fielded questions on dwelling within the district, and accommodates incriminating testimony from the householders of the tackle she used to run within the district.

Patty Cummings warrant for arrest

Cummings warrant, issued Monday, reads as follows:

  • On or about Could 9, 2022, in Lee County, Florida, did unlawfully and knowingly make a false assertion, knowingly conceal a fabric reality, or in any other case commit a fraud in an utility for a driver license or identification card, opposite to Florida Statute 322.212(5)(a).
  • On or about June 14, 2022, in Lee County, Florida, did unlawfully and willfully swear or affirm falsely to an oath or affirmation in reference to or arising out of voting or elections, opposite to Florida Statute 104.011(1).
  • On or about November 18, 2022, in Lee County, Florida, did unlawfully and willfully swear or affirm falsely to an oath or affirmation in reference to or arising out of voting or elections, opposite to Florida Statute 104.011(1).

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What prompted an investigation into election fraud?

The council voted in late June to ahead an investigation to the state lawyer into Cummings that discovered points together with her residential {qualifications} to run for District 4.

The town employed investigator Vicki L. Sproat, an lawyer with Boy Agnew Potanovic Miller of Fort Myers, on March 24, and she or he submitted to the town a closing report in June. The report discovered that Cummings was neither a full nor part-time resident of the district when she ran, received her seat, and was sworn in as an official.

Although complete in its method, the town’s outdoors investigator didn’t have the facility to compel testimony from choose key people.

Councilmembers Dan Sheppard and Cummings didn’t take part within the investigation, and the property homeowners of the residences the place Cummings claimed she lived didn’t reply to the investigator’s inquiries.

Via the facility of the State Lawyer’s Workplace, Kenney obtained testimony that stuffed these lacking gaps.

This is what we now know:

Cummings properties defined

The town constitution requires candidates to reside within the district they want to signify.

The part of “forfeiture of workplace” part learn as “the Mayor or a Council member shall forfeit his or her workplace if she or he lacks at any time throughout the time period of workplace any qualification for the workplace prescribed by this Constitution or by relevant legislation.”

Cummings had admitted to being a part-time resident in accordance with earlier paperwork obtained by The Information-Press.

Cummings had a number of tackle modifications that had been underneath scrutiny:

  • 3537 Malagrotta Circle to 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace, on Nov. 23, 2021.
  • 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace to 2425 Embers Parkway, on Oct. 25, 2022.
  • 2425 Embers Parkway to 318 SE twenty first, on March 20, 2023.

None of those addresses had been listed as her major residence when she filed to run for District 4.

Her candidate kinds and driver’s license put her as dwelling at 3827 Palm Tree Blvd. in District 4.

District 4 tackle uncovered

Within the paperwork, U.S. Postal Inspector Heidi R Lescault confirmed that Cummings had not submitted a U.S. Postal Service change of tackle type for mail supply to 3827 Palm Tree Blvd.

The U.S. Postal Service solely had data of mail being delivered to Jill and Robert Hiatt, the property homeowners of the Palm Tree tackle.

Information present that Cummings did, nevertheless, submit handwritten change of tackle kinds for 3 different current strikes.

Moreover, critiques of paperwork from Lee County Electrical Cooperative (LCEC) discovered that she had stopped and began service at her previous 4 addresses however not on the Palm Tree tackle.

Jill and Robert Hiatt owned the house since transferring to Florida in 2011 and nobody else has lived within the house since they obtained it, the warrant states.

District 4 home-owner recounts renting ‘room’

Jill Hiatt informed the investigator she’s recognized Cummings for 3 years as she was one in every of her purchasers on the AstroDurance Gymnasium.

In line with the paperwork, round February or March 2022, Cummings lamented {that a} property she meant to maneuver to in District 4 fell via.

Jill Hiatt talked about her house in District 4 and the Cummings requested her help to assist her run for workplace.

They signed a handwritten doc with phrases and circumstances permitting the house for use by Cummings when the Hiatts had been gone, which they had been continuously, in accordance with the paperwork.

“She said that she didn’t retain any documentation concerning her permitting Cummings entry to her house; that Cummings wanted the documentation to show residency to run for District 4,” the paperwork state of Hiatt. “She had no expectations upon returning house that Cummings would change into her new roommate or dwell of their house with them there.”

Cummings had a key and entry to the house from April 2022 till late August or early September 2022. On paper, she was renting a one-bedroom with a toilet.

“I supplied this as a brief cease hole till she discovered a spot, after which we had a hurricane,” Jill Hiatt informed the investigator.

Second home-owner denies realizing of settlement

Robert Hiatt stated he was unaware of the deal till Jill Hiatt talked about it on their trip in September 2022.

“She doesn’t precisely keep in mind when she informed him, nevertheless it was after the information story broke and their house was proven on the tv information,” the paperwork state. “She suggested that her husband was not blissful, and thought it was a foul thought.”

He said that he was not an affiliate of Cummings, that he had a marketing campaign sign up his entrance yard, and that her election was not run from his house.

The couple couldn’t affirm what number of instances she entered the house or if she slept there.

“Cummings was not dwelling in his house when he has been at house; and that Cummings might have visited his house as soon as, with (Aaron) Bathory, for roughly one hour,” the paperwork state.

Her earlier tackle was ruined by Hurricane Ian

Marvin Sealy, the proprietor of 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace, in District 2, stated Cummings had been renting the house from November 2021 to October 2022.

Hurricane Ian struck the Gulf of Mexico shoreline in Cape Coral on Sept. 28, 2022, with Class 5 winds. It destroyed properties, lots of that are nonetheless underneath restore.

Sealy couldn’t affirm if Cummings was a full-time tenant however stated he met her a day or two after Hurricane Ian hit Cape Coral, the place he confirmed that she was permitted to depart her lease a month early as a result of the house was uninhabitable.

The lease listed Cummings, her fiance, and two sons.

Leslie Blaisdell, property supervisor for Milhoff-Aubuchon who managed the situation for Sealy, stated Cummings meant to maneuver to 2425 Embers Parkway, in District 6.

Vitor DeOliveira, licensed public adjuster for All Claims Public Adjusters, stated he visited Cummings to help in her catastrophe declare.

A declare examine that was licensed by GEICO Insurance coverage went to the Ember’s property.

The proprietor of the Embers’ property, Sandra Cassidy, stated Cummings got here to her after she could not discover a place to hire after Hurricane Ian.

“She said that she rented her property to Cummings for a time period of six months; that she thought it was nice having a councilmember hire her property and that Cummings didn’t renew the lease,” the paperwork state.

Shen then made a subsequent transfer between March and April after complaints that she didn’t dwell in District 4.

“She said that Cummings informed her that there have been complaints; that she was being politically focused; and that Cummings felt the complaints had been politically motivated,” the paperwork state. “She suggested that this was the primary she knew of Cummings needing to dwell in a sure place.”

Her household was additionally on the lease for the Embers property.

Fellow Councilmembers present testimony

The State Lawyer’s Officer additionally interviewed Sheppard. He stated he first met Cummings round 2015 when she inquired about working for Metropolis Council, and he inspired her to run.

“She could not run as a result of she did not dwell in District 4, however she might change that as a result of she was a renter, that she was not a house owner, and that she was actually within the strategy of relocating,” Sheppard said within the paperwork. “So, she stated she would take into consideration working.”

She reached out to him once more in 2022 as she turned extra severe about working however questioned about eligibility.

“You ‘cannot simply hire your new place and say you reside in District 4 now?’ ” Sheppard recollects her saying.

Sheppard then went to then-Metropolis Lawyer Dolores Menendez for solutions, and she or he stated somebody could be a renter however must have their major tackle within the district for which they’re working.

He relayed the knowledge to Cummings and that he didn’t know the place she was dwelling on the time of the hurricane.

“He said he doesn’t know something about Cummings’ Palm Tree Boulevard tackle; that he by no means visited Cummings on the Palm Tree Boulevard tackle; and that it could be mistaken for Cummings to assert residence at an tackle the place she didn’t dwell for the aim of building residency in that district,” the paperwork state.

He did go to Cummings’ tackle at Embers Parkway after the hurricane, the warrant states.

“He agreed that he visited Cummings’ Embers Parkway West residence after the hurricane; that if Cummings said in her March 7, 2023, letter to the mayor she was a part-time resident of District 4, then the “recreation is over” and there’s no argument,” the paperwork said.

Neighbors specify Cummings’s residence

Kristopher Shreves and Elizabeth Hensley, neighbors of Cummings at her 2834 SW fiftieth Terrace tackle, stated their household had been full-time residents from October 2021 till the hurricane hit.

“They said that shortly after Hurricane Ian, Cummings relocated to Orlando, and supplied them a generator and meals provides; and that she subsequently took the generator again after getting back from Orlando,” the paperwork state. “They additional said that they knew Cummings was campaigning for Metropolis Council as a result of she informed them; and that her autos had magnetic marketing campaign indicators on their doorways and a billboard measurement signal within the rear of the pickup truck.”

Different neighbors within the space attest to seeing Cummings as a full-time resident on the 2834 SW fiftieth Terrace tackle.

Associates are uncertain as effectively

Cape Coral resident Lorie Morgan informed the investigator that she developed a friendship with Cummings after her father’s passing in April 2022.

She had visited her house at 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace many instances and stated she was dwelling there up till the hurricane.

“She said that she confirmed Cummings potential houses in District 4, however Cummings by no means rented these properties; Cummings by no means lived in District 4 previous to Hurricane Ian,” the paperwork state.

She confirmed that Cummings was working for workplace when she resided at Embers Parkway.

Morgan said she knew Cummings was not dwelling in District 4, in accordance with the paperwork.

“Cummings confirmed that the town constitution has a district residency requirement; that Cummings said she had established residency; and that Cummings suggested if she received the election she would completely relocate into District 4,” the paperwork state.

A volunteer for Cummings’ marketing campaign, Christopher Cammarota, stated he knew she was dwelling at 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace in District 2 and visited her at that house since June 2022.

“He said that he might have picked up Cummings a number of instances at 3827 Palm Tree Blvd.; that Cummings informed him she had a spot there; that he has by no means been within the house at 3827 Palm Tree Blvd.; and that he has by no means met or spoken with the homeowners,” the paperwork state.

He stated that Sheppard saved involved with Cummings on a weekly foundation and that he was conscious of the District 2 tackle.

“He said that previous to the hurricane, he was with Sheppard on the District 2 tackle at 2842 SW fiftieth Terrace residence,” the paperwork state.

Luis Zambrano is a Watchdog/Cape Coral reporter for The Information-Press and the Naples Every day Information. You possibly can attain Luis at Observe him on Twitter @Lz2official.

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