Make your home page

Mother, daughter accused of accessing student accounts to rig homecoming court vote

(CNN) — A mother and daughter in Pensacola, Florida, have been accused of rigging a high school homecoming court election by accessing accounts without authorization, authorities said Monday.

Laura Rose Carroll, 50, was arrested Monday and booked into the Escambia County Jail with a bond of $8,500, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said in a news release. Her 17-year-old daughter was taken into custody and transferred to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, it said.

When reached by CNN, a man identifying himself as Carroll’s husband, said, “We have no comment right now. Our lawyers told us not to speak and we will have our day in court.”

CNN has reached out to the Escambia County School District for comment.

The FDLE said it was contacted in November 2020 by the Escambia County School District over allegations of unauthorized access to hundreds of student accounts.

The release says investigators found Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary, and her daughter, a student at Tate High used Carroll’s district-level access to enter accounts, where hundreds of fraudulent votes were cast for the Taft homecoming court. The votes were flagged as fraudulent when 117 votes allegedly originated from the same IP address within a short period of time. Authorities reported that FDLE agents found evidence of unauthorized access linked to Carroll’s cellphone as well as home computers.

Investigators said they found almost 250 fraudulently cast votes for the homecoming court.

“Multiple students reported that Carroll’s daughter described using her mother’s account to cast votes,” the statement said.

The investigation also found that beginning August 2019, Carroll’s account allegedly accessed 372 high school records and 339 of those belonged to students at Tate, the FDLE release said.

Carroll and her daughter were each charged with offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices; unlawful use of a two-way communications device; criminal use of personally identifiable information; and conspiracy to commit these offenses, the release said. All but the conspiracy charge are listed as third-degree felonies.