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High hopes, dashed dreams: Texts chart medical marijuana entrepreneur’s $325K encounter with Maddox

David Raab, a nationally recognized ornamental flower grower from Apopka, was among the scores of nursery owners scrambling to get in on the state’s emerging medical marijuana industry seven years ago.

Being a stranger to the inner workings of the Florida Legislature, Raab knew he needed help. So he sought out a knowledgeable guide who could navigate the political channels, introduce him to the right people, amend the rules so he could qualify for a license, and shepherd through his application to grow and sell medical marijuana.

On the recommendation of a now-dead former Lake County sheriff who had a farm nearby, Raab contacted Scott Maddox, who he didn’t know was a sitting Tallahassee City Commissioner at the time he represented him.

“Maybe that’s why everything went through Governance,” Raab said, referring to the consulting firm owned by Paige Carter-Smith but run by Maddox that is at the heart of a federal government pay-to-play case involving Maddox, Carter-Smith and real estate developer J.T. Burnette.

Maddox told Raab that he and Carter-Smith were a tight-knit team, well-connected, trusted sources sought out by lawmakers who knew how things got done in the Legislature.

“I had always assumed he and Paige were lobbyists,” Raab said, even though they never said so in as many words.

It wasn’t until Maddox and Carter-Smith were indicted several years after Raab’s involvement with them that he realized they had sold him a bill of goods.

“I had a feeling he was blowing smoke up my ass, and that is certainly what I felt a few years later when I read about him getting indicted,” Raab told the Tallahassee Democrat in an interview. “After the indictments, I shrugged my shoulders and figured it was bull____ from the very beginning.”

On reflection, Raab said he now can see how Maddox was stringing him along.