Former Marco Island Councilor Victor Rios' next trial date set for July

Marco Island City Councilor Victor Rios speaks during a council meeting on Oct. 19, 2020.

Former Marco Island City Councilor Victor N. Rios' next trial date is set for July 15.

Rios did not speak during his court appearance Thursday via Zoom, but he could be seen on the call.

"I asked Mr. Rios to keep his mic muted just in an abundance of caution," Seth A. Kolton, Rios' attorney, told Collier Circuit Judge Ramiro Mañalich.

Mañalich disclosed he has sworn in Rios along with other Marco Island councilors on at least two occasions at City Council meetings.

"It does not affect my ability or my opinion to serve on the case fairly and impartially," Mañalich said.

Mañalich said he has had no other relationship with Rios.

From February:Former Marco Island City Council vice chair charged with forging Belize condo votes

And:FDLE built case against former Marco Island City Councilor Victor Rios with neighbors' help

Kolton and Tino F. Cimato, assistant state attorney, did not immediately raise objections about Mañalich's disclosure.

Kolton said he received evidence from the state that included about 140 pages of documents, "a bunch" of audio files and forensic evidence. Kolton also said he anticipated a "long list" of depositions of witnesses.

Answering a question from Mañalich, Cimato said he has not had a conversation with Kolton about a plea deal because he wanted the defense to have enough time to review the evidence.

Mañalich set Rios' next court date for 1:30 p.m. on July 15.

Alleged condo election fraud at Belize

Marco Island City Councilor Victor Rios speaks during a Council meeting on Oct. 5, 2020.

Rios is accused of forgery during the election of the Belize condominium association in 2019 on Marco Island, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement news release sent in early February.

Rios, 78, turned himself into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Department of Corrections on Feb. 5 on three counts of forgery of a ballot envelope and three counts of criminal use of personal identification information.

Rios was released the same day upon posting a $30,000 bond, according to the release.

An FDLE investigation found that several condo residents had ballots cast in their names that they did not authorize and were unaware of, according to the release.

FDLE says the ballot envelopes contained the personal identification information of the victims, including their names, condo numbers and forged signatures.

An FDLE lab analysis of envelopes discovered a DNA profile that matched Rios, according to the news release.

Rios was first elected to City Council in 2014 and was reelected in 2018, serving as vice chairman in 2019. His second term was set to expire in 2022.

Prior to his time as councilor, Rios volunteered with the city's beach advisory committee for three years and Collier County's coastal advisory committee for eight years, according to the city's website.

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