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After guilty plea, Reggie Fullwood resigns from Florida House


09292016_191516_fullwood_myflhouse_8colState Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, resigned from the Florida House on Monday after pleading guilty to wire fraud in federal court last week.

Fullwood will step down immediately, he wrote in a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who supsended Fullwood earlier Monday morning.

"This was the toughest decision I have ever had to make," Fullwood wrote in the letter, which he shared on Twitter.

Last Thursday, Fullwood pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of failure to file an income tax return, two of 14 counts in a federal indictment that first became public in April, the News Service of Florida reported.

By pleading guilty, he avoids a trial but faces a maximum 20-year sentence for wire fraud and with one year for the tax return charge. Additionally, Fullwood will forfeit more than $60,000 as part of the agreement, his attorney Robert Willis told the News Service.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 9.

The Democratic Party executive committee in Duval County will in the coming days choose a replacement candidate to face Republican Mark Griffin in the general election. Tracie Davis, a former staffer in the Duval supervisor of elections office who came in second to Fullwood with 42.5 percent of the vote in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, appears a likely pick. Though state law prohibits the loser of a primary from being chosen by a political party to fill a vacancy for any other office on the ballot, they can run for the job they lost in the primary.

However, ballots with Fullwood's name have already been sent to military and overseas voters and this week are going to the homes of those who requested mail-in ballots.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said he still has not been informed by the secretary of state's office that Fullwood has withdrawn his name from the ballot. When he is, Hogan says, he is required to post a notice that votes for Fullwood will be counted for the Democrat nominated to replace him at polling locations.

But state law does not require him to inform mail voters whose ballots have already been sent.

"It's a delicate matter when a candidate withdraws after ballots have gone out," Hogan said.

Fullwood was first elected to the House in 2010.

The indictment says that from at least September 2010 to about December 2011, Fullwood transferred money from a campaign bank account to an account for an entity he owned called Rhino Harbor, LLC and used the money for personal items at grocery, jewelry and liquor stores.

In his resignation, Fullwood contends that the "the federal charge of wire fraud is just a repackaged version of state election law violations that are routinely handled by the Florida Election Commission."

Photo courtesy of the Florida House.