Fourth person charged in Miami petition scandal

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 22 2002 12:00 AM ET

A notary public is the fourth person to be charged in a state investigation into whether a petition drive to repeal Miami-Dade County's gay rights ordinance was fraudulently conducted.

Nayibe Bousse, 44, was charged Tuesday with unlawful use of a notary commission for allegedly notarizing her own signature, said Chip Thullbery, a spokesman for the Polk County state attorney's office, which was appointed as special prosecutor in the case. "She signed it as a circulator and then as a notary," Thullbery said. Bousse faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the third-degree felony.

"Obviously it was not intentional," said Bousse's attorney, Rosa Armesto de Gonzalez. "Nobody intentionally notarizes their own signature when they can just as easily get someone else to notarize it. And we had no lack of notaries."

Armesto is also representing the three other people charged in the investigation: Anthony Verdugo, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Christian Coalition; notary public Ralph Patterson; and Christian Montoya, a campaign volunteer. Verdugo, who is also a board member of Take Back Miami-Dade, a conservative group that has been working for the repeal, was charged with one count of false swearing. Patterson was charged with unlawful use of a notary commission. Montoya, 17, was charged with seven counts of false swearing.