FDLE arrests paid petition circulator for personal identification fraud

For Immediate Release
August 28, 2023
OCALA, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Maria Guadalupe Bautista, 24, of Ocala, on 16 counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information. Bautista was a paid petition circulator. Investigators with Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Gladson’s Office, and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the case.
The case began in November of 2021 when FDLE agents met with the Marion County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) about a complaint of widespread fraud related to a constitutional amendment for the limited authorization of casino gaming. The SOE staff identified 767 petition forms suspected of being forged. Bautista turned in 191 of the suspected fraudulent forms.
The investigation confirmed that 16 petitions submitted by Bautista contained fraudulent signatures. Two of the 16 forged petitions she submitted to the SOE were for individuals who were deceased prior to the date on the signed forms.
Bautista was booked into the Alachua County Jail today and is being held on a $80,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, Fifth Judicial Circuit.
The investigation remains active.
For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Priorities

FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.