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Monday, December 04, 2023

UF Student Government Senate President exonerated for second time

Special Investigator didn’t find enough probable cause to hear the Fabrication Investigation

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The Student Government Rules and Ethics Committee met June 17 for nearly four hours to consider the expulsion of Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) after Minority Party Leader Bronson Allemand (Gator-District A) said he would file a case during the announcements section of the June 13 Senate meeting.

Allemand’s charges against Santiago Perez included malfeasance, moral turpitude and forgery. These charges pertained to Santiago Perez allegedly filling out a voter record for former Change Sen. Anaum Virani at the Feb. 21 Senate meeting. 

Santiago Perez was exonerated of all charges, and they believed the committee made the right decision given the inconclusive evidence. 

Communist Party Leader Alfredo Ortiz also filed a case, titled the Fabrication Investigation, in regard to the June 17 trial where Santiago Perez was exonerated of all charges in a four-to-one vote.

Before the July 11 Senate meeting, Ortiz filed a memorandum to the UF Supreme Court calling for a more in-depth investigation of the events that took place. 

“If Oscar indeed fabricated a voter record, that should come to light so that future senators know not to engage in similar conduct in the future,” Ortiz wrote. “If he did not, then his innocence should not be subject to uncertainty because it would not be fair to his reputation.” 

Ortiz believes Santiago Perez was vindicated on a technicality because the investigation was cut short due to the Rules and Ethics Committee lacking the ability to subpoena more evidence.

They don't have any further comments regarding the case, Santiago Perez said, and the evidence speaks for itself. 

After Ortiz filed the case to the Supreme Court, special investigator Jesse Dieterle was appointed to the case. 

Dieterle emailed questions to all members present at the June 17 trial. Only Allemand, Santiago Perez, Sen. Zoe Richter (Change-CALS) and LGBTQ Caucus Chairperson and Judiciary Vice Chair Joaquin R. C. Marcelino responded. 

Allemand included all instances of mentions of “student government property” he could find in SG’s governing documents. 

“I believe that it is reasonable to believe that the voter records which we use in our Senate sessions translate to Student Government Property as they are disseminated by the Senate Secretaries which are employees under Student Government,” Allemand wrote. 

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Richter wrote to Dieterle the definition of what constitutes SG property is not related to the hearing she attended. 

“Please refer to the minutes and recordings,” Richter wrote. “Respectfully, I am not going to recompile evidence that is publicly available.” 

Dieterle does not believe there is probable cause to further inquire whether Santiago Perez misused Student Government property, he wrote.

He concluded there is no probable cause to open an investigation on the basis of this complaint — further exonerating Santiago Perez for a second time. 

Contact Vivienne at Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.

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Vivienne Serret

Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, reporting for The Alligator's university desk as the student government reporter and managing editor for The Florida Political Review. She loves debating, lifting at the gym and singing.

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