Winter Haven Man Arrested on Multiple Felonies For Fraudulent Ballot Petitions in Highlands County
SEBRING — A 21-year-old Winter Haven man was arrested Feb. 10 for multiple felonies after it was discovered he had forged petitions to get measures on the ballot for the 2020 election.
Derrell Gregory Crummedy was arrested in Polk County on a Highlands County warrant that charged him with 15 counts of false swearing with regard to voting, 15 counts of submitting false voter registration information, 15 counts of forgery, 15 counts of signing another name on a petition and one count of scheme to defraud.
The case came to light in August of 2019 when an employee of the Supervisor of Elections office in Highlands County noticed the fraud. She noticed it because Crummedy had forged her name on a petition.
She told Sgt. Mike Ahrens that Crummedy had been in front of the Government Center a week and half earlier and she had signed a petition for the minimum wage amendment and returned it to Crummedy. Part of her job, however, is checking all the petitions turned in to the elections office and she came across a petition for another ballot initiative that had her information that she knew was forged because she had never filled out that particular form.
She was able to give Sgt. Ahrens information that Crummedy was being paid to collect signatures for six ballot initiatives as well as multiple other forms that appeared to be fraudulent.
Crummedy was located in front of the Highlands County Courthouse collecting signatures and confessed when confronted with the allegations. He said he was being paid between $2 and $4 per signature for the petitions he was collecting.
Due to COVID-19 complications, it took months to determine the full extent of the case, which eventually turned up 404 possible fraudulent forms with 161 separate victims from Highlands County. Due to the overwhelming work that would be required to file charges for each case, the decision was made to focus on four victims in order to move the case forward without further delay. If he was charged with all potential crimes, he could face 2,000 felony and misdemeanor charges.
Note: Not all arrests result in convictions. Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty in court.