Former Toll Road Board Member Sentenced to 7-1/2 Years

Scott Batterson

Scott Batterson, a former Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority board member, was sentenced Friday morning to 7-1/2 years in prison.

According to Orlando Sentinel, Batterson, 38, was convicted in August on two felony bribery charges and was facing up to 15 years behind bars. He was in court Thursday on separate charges for violating Florida’s public meeting law, known as “Government in the Sunshine,”while serving on the board. These statutes, enacted in 1967, “establish a basic right of access to most meetings of boards, commissions and other governing bodies of state and local governmental agencies or authorities.”

Batterson is accused of communicating with former board member Marco Pena, by using presumptive state House Speaker Chris Dorworth as a messenger, or go-between.He plead no contest to this misdemeanor charge but was found guilty.

The investigation into the former board member began with the accusation that Batterson told former authority director Max Crumit, in a private meeting, that he had three votes to fire him. From there, State Attorney Jeff Ashton uncovered a conversation in July 2013 between Batterson and an engineering consultant Mark Callahan. Callahan testified that Batterson offered his company a $5 million-a-year contract in exchange for hiring his friends. Batterson was convicted largely on Callahan’s testimony.

Batterson used political connections to win a seat on the expressway board. Dorwath was among Batterson’s list of references when he was appointed to the Orlando expressway board by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.

Dorwath, who became a lobbyist after losing his election, is also on trial and is charged with the same crime. Jury selection for his trial is set for Oct. 23 and both Batterson and Pena are expected to testify.