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Will Maria Sachs, Local State Senator, Face Five Years in Prison?

Several weeks, Channel 10's Bob Norman dropped a report showing that Broward County State Sen. Maria Sachs' may not actually be living in a Fort Lauderdale residence -- which lies within her district -- but in a $1.5 million residence in Boca Raton, which would violate the state Constitution.

The heat has been intense for Sachs, D-Delray Beach. South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson at one time threatened to sue her but withdrew the claim. "We didn't have enough money," he told New Times.

It's gone from bad to worse. The state Ethics Commission has recently filed three -- count 'em -- three ethics complaints against Sachs, two of which have come in the past two weeks.

The rap sheet:

  • In June, the commission said there was reason to believe Sachs had lied on her financial disclosure forms, withholding some of her income as well as ownership of a Tallahassee condo.
  • Last week, a commission complaint was filed against Sachs, alleging she hasn't been living in her Fort Lauderdale apartment -- but in a location outside her district.
  • Earlier this week, she pulled off a hat trick. The state Ethics Commission says she didn't disclose that she also owns a home in a Marion County development called the Villages.

OK, so we're not talking about killing and thieving here. So if the allegations are true that she didn't disclose a few things on her financial statements, what's all the brouhaha about?

According to a lawyer Eric Giunta, writing in Sunshine State News:

The Florida Constitution explicitly requires that "[e]ach legislator shall be... a[] resident of the district from which elected," and Section 104.011 of the Florida Statutes makes it a third-degree felony to "swear[] or affirm[] falsely to any oath or affirmation... in connection with or arising out of voting or elections."

Swearing falsely on an elections-related oath [such as place of residency] is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. It is up to the local prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute such a crime, or any other.

So keep your popcorn at the ready: This one may get good.

Follow Terrence McCoy on Twitter

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