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‘I’m deeply ashamed:’ Scott Maddox sentenced to five years in prison

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 8:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority Executive Director Paige Carter-Smith were sentenced in federal court on Thursday.

Both pleaded guilty to two counts of honest services fraud and one count of tax fraud in August of 2019.

Carter-Smith was sentenced to two years and restitution of $115,619; you can read about her testimony and her character witnesses here.

Maddox was sentenced to five years and restitution of $76,763; both were also ordered to pay $70,000 in a forfeiture money judgment.

Maddox’s first character witness was his longtime friend, John Hunkiar.

Hunkiar told the judge he knew Maddox as a young child in South Florida, playing Little League together. He said Maddox remained in “constant contact with my parents,” even after he moved away to Tallahassee to live with his father in 10th grade.

“He truly has made mistakes,” Hunkiar said. “We feel he’s already paid the ultimate price, with the loss of his occupation and reputation.”

He described Maddox as fiercely loyal, reliable, a practical joker, and an animal person.

“He will come away from this and right his legacy,” Hunkiar said.

Maddox’s second character witness was another longtime friend, Scott Bakotic, a former Chief Administrator at LCSO.

He described Maddox as a “public servant” with “deep care and respect for law enforcement,” citing Maddox’s trips to the scenes of officer-involved shootings to support the City employee in the situation.

He spoke about the way Maddox jumped into action on November 13, 2002, when Sergeant Dale Green was shot, delivering the news to Green’s family and going to the hospital.

“He’s always cared about Tallahassee and his community,” Bakotic said.

Bakotic argued Maddox has owned up to his mistakes that “cost him everything,” and asked the court to look at “all the good” Scott did.

A childhood friend, Neal Rambana, also spoke for Maddox.

“Scott has admitted his mistakes and asked for forgiveness,” said Rambana.

He too pointed to Maddox’s accomplishments, including road expansions such as Blairstone Road, and his work to integrate the local masonic lodge for Rambana.

Maddox was emotional when speaking to the judge.

“When I listen to my voice on those recordings, I’m deeply ashamed,” Maddox said. “I tried to do what was right so I pled, and I tried to do everything asked. I deserve everything I’m gonna get.”

Maddox said he was the first person in his family to become an attorney, an accomplishment he was proud of. He said he has been disbarred.

He also said he’s lost his pension, his reputation, and all of his money.

“But none of that is really important,” said Maddox. “I believe I hastened Paige’s dad’s death and my own father’s death by being drunk and stupid.”

Maddox cited the impact of the trial and investigation on his sons, saying one no longer wants to be an attorney, and the other no longer wants to be a member of law enforcement.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about this,” Maddox said. “I’ve hurt my family, Paige, my father, my mother, my kids, and the city that I love.”

He said he left a black mark on Tallahassee.

“I’ll never get over it. All I can say is I’m sorry. I hope to do God to good to others with whatever time I have left,” Maddox said.

His attorney, Charles Dobson, asked the judge to consider Maddox’s twenty plus years of service, saying he’s primarily responsible for the infrastructure of Tallahassee.

“I don’t think he should be punished for not remembering something from 2013,” Dobson said, pointing to Maddox’s testimony in the Burnette trial.

Dobson pointed out that Maddox has been on probation for years, and he requested a sentence of at-home detention for his client.

“It undermines faith in the system” Judge Hinkle lays out sentence

After Carter-Smith and Maddox’s words to the judge, the prosecution spoke.

Deputy Chief Peter Nothstein said the defendants’ criminal conduct was as important as their past good works.

“Scott Maddox’s corruption broke the foundation of our democracy,” said Nothstein. “Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith ran a pay for play scheme through Governance.”

Judge Hinkle spoke for about thirty minutes about his thoughts on the case and the sentence.

He pointed to the serious nature of the crimes and the long reaching effects.

“It undermines confidence; it undermines faith in the system,” Hinkle said.

Hinkle said the offense itself “cuts toward” a longer sentence, while the offenders “cut toward” a shorter sentence.

“Two defendants who have no criminal history, who have been involved in public service, and who have a good record,” he said. “These are people who have supported others.”

Hinkle pointed out that some statements from Maddox and Carter-Smith’s pleas did not line up with their testimony at the JT Burnette trial.

“The government’s right that the defendants have not been completely forthcoming. I don’t think they were lying,” said Hinkle. “The defendants have persuaded themselves that what they did was not as bad as it was.”

Hinkle pointed out that both Maddox and Carter-Smith have lost a lot; “they’ve fallen hard,” he said. However, he said that’s “not a factor that cuts very strongly one way or the other.”

“They have made things a little worse for all the other people who went into it [public service] for the right reasons,” Hinkle said.

He also pointed out that Maddox had provided information on the alleged McKibbon bribe that the government did not know about for the JT Burnette case.

Burnette was found guilty on five of the nine counts against him, and he will be sentenced October 28.

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