Crazy Homecoming Scandal May Result in Serious Jail Time

Mother, daughter in Florida, accused of rigging the vote, have refused a plea deal and plan to go to trial
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2021 11:30 AM CST
After a Homecoming Scandal, Serious Jail Time Looms
Emily Grover faces jail time, along with her mother.   (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)

(Newser) – A strange story emerged out of rural Florida earlier this year, one in which a mother and teenager daughter were accused of hacking the school computer system to rig the homecoming vote for the teen. Now, Natalie O'Neill of the Daily Beast provides an update that might prove surprising. The legal trouble for Laura Carroll, 50, and daughter Emily Grove, a 17-year-old senior when arrested, is far from over. The pair, against the advice of their lawyer, have rejected a plea deal that would have allowed them to avoid jail and instead plan to go trial as soon as next month. If convicted, they each face 16 years in prison, which, as O'Neill notes, is a tougher punishment than many high-profile hackers receives for much more serious crimes. So what happened?

"The alleged cheat for glory could have ended with a slap on the wrist if it weren’t for local parents’ fears, investigators’ ambitions and the pair’s own stubbornness, according to hundreds of pages of court documents and interviews with people involved," writes O'Neill. Prosecutors say one or both women used Carroll's access as an elementary school vice principal (she's since been fired) to obtain student IDs, birthdays, etc., to cast false votes. “We’re not pleading guilty to something we didn’t do,” says Carroll, though she adds, “If there was any crime committed, the punishment doesn’t fit.” Parents are peeved at the breach, and the story digs into the small-town culture of Cantonment, where homecoming is a big deal. Read the full story, which notes that Grover was informed by the University of Western Florida in August that she was no longer welcome to attend. (Read more homecoming stories.)

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