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CBS4's Bobeth Yates shares the latest details in the election fraud investigation.
- And now to new details in a big political scandal. A former state senator and a candidate for state Senate have both been arrested.
- Prosecutors allege a phony candidate was placed in a state Senate race to confuse voters, split the vote, and then hand the election to the Republican candidate. CBS 4's Bobeth Yates is following the latest for us from Northwest Miami-Dade. Bobeth?
BOBETH YATES: Well, I'm at the TGK Jail. And right now we're waiting for that former state senator, Frank Artiles, to come out. We know that he has been booked earlier. We did see that candidate, that state candidate-- that is Alex Rodriguez-- make his way through those doors and walk this way. But now we're just waiting to see what's next.
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE: Today, we are alleging that November's Florida Senate District 37 election involved crimes.
BOBETH YATES: The alleged crime? Election fraud. Here is Alex Rodriguez leaving the jail. After turning himself in, along with former state senator Frank Artiles, have now been charged.
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE: Today, we are alleging that Frank Artiles paid Alex Pedro Rodriguez almost $45,000 to run as a candidate in this race, merely to use his name to confuse who? The electors. And to falsify qualifying paperwork as a candidate.
BOBETH YATES: According to the search warrant, Artiles has been under investigation for months. The affidavit even includes text messages like this one, where the former senator told Rodriguez he needs to change his voter registration to independent. And he responded, done.
The document went on to outline Artiles' alleged efforts to convince Rodriguez to enter into the race as a strong candidate. With the same last name as the incumbent, Jose Javier Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez was able to split the votes, which resulted in Senator Elena Garcia winning the election by only about 30 votes.
JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ: We were crying foul about this, you know, throughout the campaign.
BOBETH YATES: And Jose Javier Rodriguez, the candidate who ultimately lost the race because of this scheme, is now calling for change.
JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ: This is something that cries out for reform. This could be repeated. It's been done in the past, but not with this level of brazenness and criminality. And voters deserve better.
BOBETH YATES: Now the state attorney's office tell us this is an ongoing investigation. So they're continuing to look into this and see if they can get more details on what the alleged allegations of crimes are. Live in Miami, Bobeth Yates, CBS 4 News.