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The Villages
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Trumper shocked when jury finds him guilty of vote fraud

Robert Rivernider Jr.
Robert Rivernider Jr.

A leader in the Villagers for Trump political group was shocked when he was found guilty of voter fraud Tuesday afternoon by a jury in Sumter County Court.

“Incredible,” Robert Rivernider Jr. said as he was leaving the courtroom in Bushnell.

The 58-year-old was convicted of forgery of a public record, uttering a forged document and fraud in connection with casting a vote. All three charges are felonies of the third degree which are punishable by up to five years in prison. When the prosecutor moved to revoke Rivernider’s bond, the prosecutor reminded the judge that Rivernider is already on federal probation for a 2013 conspiracy and wire fraud conviction. However, the judge found that Rivernider was not a flight risk and gave him a notice to appear for a future sentencing date.

Rivernider Jr., who lives at Continental Country Club in Wildwood, was charged with having signed a vote-by-mail ballot for his father, Robert Rivernider Sr., according to an elections fraud complaint from Sumter County Supervisor of Elections William Keen. The senior Rivernider reportedly died on Oct. 19, 2020. The vote-by-mail envelope  was signed and dated Oct. 16, 2020, but postmarked on Oct. 23, 2020. It was received by the local elections office on Oct. 26, 2020.

The prosecutor called a deputy clerk from the Sumter County Supervisor of Elections office as well as an investigator from the state attorney’s office to lay the foundation for the introduction into evidence documents which supported the charge. A forensic documents examiner from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement testified that the hand writing on the ballot may have been made by Robert Rivernider Jr. The expert indicated that there were few examples of the senior Rivernider’s hand writing available to be analyzed but the evidence she reviewed indicated that the defendant may have signed his father’s mail in ballot.

The state rested its case at noon and Rivernider’s lawyer,  Anthony Sabatini, who is running for Congress, rested the defendant’s case without putting any evidence before the jury.

The jury began deliberations at 1:30 p.m. The six-person jury came back into court with an unanimous verdict 50 minutes later.

Sabatini indicated that he plans to file a motion to set aside the jury’s finding as it was not supported by the evidence.

The judge indicated he would set a sentencing date in 30 days.

A number of Villagers were charged with casting more than one ballot in the 2020 election, but all escaped with light sentences, which consisted primarily of civics classes. Villagers who were arrested were Joan Marie Halstead, Jay Richard Ketcik, Charles Franklin Barnes and John Rider.

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