A Florida mother and her teenage daughter each face up to 16 years in prison after rigging a high school homecoming court competition, officials announced on Tuesday. The daughter who, was 17 when the crime took place, recently turned 18 and will be tried as an adult.
50-year-old Laura Rose Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School in Pensacola, Florida, was arrested alongside her daughter, Emily Rose Grover, in March.
The arrests came following an investigation that began in November when the Escambia County School District contacted law enforcement to report unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a press release.
In October, 117 votes for Tate High School's Homecoming Court all originating from the same IP address within a short period of time and were flagged as fraudulent, authorities said.
Investigators found that Carroll — who had district-level access of the school board's student information system, called FOCUS — and Grover had accessed student accounts.
Evidence showed Carroll's cell phone and computers associated with their residence had unauthorized access to FOCUS and were used to cast 246 votes for the homecoming court.
Students also reported that Grover said her mom used FOCUS to cast votes.
Carroll had also been using her FOCUS account to access 372 high school students' records, 339 at Tate High School, since August 2019.
The mother-daughter-duo were arrested and booked at Escambia County Jail on one count each of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices, a third-degree felony; unlawful use of a two-way communications device, a third-degree felony; criminal use of personally identifiable information, a third-degree felony; and conspiracy to commit these offenses (a 1st degree misdemeanor).
Carroll's bond was set at $8,500 and Grover was transferred to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
The state prosecutor announced Tuesday that Grover would be tried as an adult. She turned 18 in April, according to the Associated Press.
Carroll was suspended from her job, although it is unclear if she has been fired, and Grover was expelled from Tate High School.
Both women remain free on bond and prosecutors said they each face a maximum 16-year sentence, according to the AP.
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