On Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Martin Grenfell, a candidate for a seat on the Polk County Board of Commissioners, on charges of false swearing with regard to voting — a third-degree felony by state law.
Grenfell, 56, is running for Seat 1 on the county board, which is currently held by George Lindsey.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd held a press conference later in the day following Grenfell’s arrest, explaining that his department’s investigation indicated that Grenfell, who is a convicted felon, knew he was ineligible to hold office when he signed a candidate oath that indicated the contrary — that he was qualified under the law to hold office in Florida.
Grenfell was convicted in February of 2013 of trafficking in counterfeit labels, for which he was sentenced to three years of probation.
Judd referred to a plea agreement Grenfell signed in November of 2012 related to his federal felony charges. The agreement detailed that “The defendant also understands that defendant will be adjudicated guilty of the offenses to which defendant has pleaded and, if any of such offenses are felonies, may thereby be deprived of certain rights, such as the right to vote, to hold public office, to serve on a jury, or to have possession of firearms.”
A PCSO press release regarding the arrest also referred to a sentencing memorandum from Grenfell’s earlier criminal case with similar language regarding his right to hold office.
“What our investigation was, was to determine ‘did he sign it?’ and ‘did he know?’” Judd said. “So, yes, he knowingly signed documents associated with his plea agreement that he clearly knew he was a convicted felon and that one of the civil rights that he lost as a result of his felony conviction was the right to hold public office.”
If convicted of the charges, Grenfell could spend up to five years in prison.