Florida education chair not guilty of illegal digs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – A jury has found the president of the Florida Board of Education not guilty of illegally excavating the waters around his former property in the Florida Keys.

The 12-member panel unanimously agreed Thursday in Federal Court in Key West that Tom Grady should be acquitted of the torts of obstructing navigable waters.

Prosecutors filed the charge in September, saying Grady searched federal waters off Islamorada in April 2017 without proper authorization from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Grady’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, said in a statement that Grady had obtained state and local clearances and believed he had permission from the Army Corps. Grady’s contractor testified that he and Grady had a good faith belief that they had all the appropriate permits.

“This lawsuit should never have been initiated,” said Markus. “It was politically motivated persecution, as well as a complete waste of judicial resources and taxpayer dollars.”

Grady had gained attention in early fall as the Florida Board of Education moved to beautiful school districts that defied a state ban on classroom mask warrants. The council also approved withholding funding from districts that receive federal grants intended to offset state fines.

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