Six North Bay Village voters are suing a commissioner because they believe he was ineligible to serve in public office after he did not acknowledge a felony drug conviction in 1992 on two voter registration forms filed years later.
Douglas Hornsby, a radiologist who was appointed to the commission in January to fill a vacancy left by the former vice mayor, has been at the center of a controversy that began in May when he admitted to being convicted of selling cocaine in Tennessee 25 years ago. He made a statement at a commission meeting after alleged threats of blackmail, which he referred to the village attorney and the police.
“This is somebody outside that’s doing this to get me … off the commission or to vote another way,” he said at a May 9 commission meeting.
A subsequent investigation by NBC 6 found that Hornsby filled out Miami-Dade voter registration forms in 1998 and 2004 upon which he marked the box indicating that he was not a convicted felon, even though he was imprisoned on the felony drug charge in 1992 and on parole until 1999.
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Lying on a voter registration form is third-degree felony under Florida law.
At that meeting, Hornsby also said he never lost his right to vote.
NBC 6 reported that Hornsby did not have his voting rights restored until 2005, according to Tennessee officials. Voter registration records show that he voted in two elections before 2005.
Six residents — Manuel Perez, Raul Toro, Laura Cattabriga, Orlando Perdomo, Maria Perdomo and Marlene Brody — are listed as plaintiffs in the suit. Their attorney, J.C. Planas, told the Miami Herald that the residents want Hornsby out of office.
“We want the immediate removal of Douglas Hornsby,” he said.
Hornsby did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The suit also names Village Manager Frank Rollason and Village Attorney Robert Switkes as defendants, claiming that both officials knew of Hornsby’s inability to serve.
Rollason declined to comment. In a statement Friday afternoon, Switkes said the blackmail threats were presented to law enforcement, and said that the lawsuit was an attempt to distract the public from an extortion attempt.
“As the village attorney, I received evidence of the attempted blackmail and extortion of Commissioner Hornsby and communicated it to the FBI and provided the evidence to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” Switkes said. “I am confident that at the conclusion of the criminal investigation and prosecution, all of the responsible parties will be brought to justice and this futile attempt to redirect the public’s attention will be unsuccessful.”
A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday to determine whether the case should be expedited.