A teenager from Florida who allegedly hacked into the accounts of Pensacola high school students to cast fraudulent homecoming court votes for herself is facing felony charges.
Tate High School homecoming queen Emily Rose Grover allegedly teamed up with her mother, 50-year-old Laura Rose Carroll, to cast nearly 250 fake votes. Carroll works as an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School in Escambia County.
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Pensacola residents Carroll and Grover on March 15, 2021.
Each defendant was charged with 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 first-degree misdemeanor).
An investigation into the homecoming election was instigated in November 2020 when the Escambia County School District contacted local police to report unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts.
The investigation found that Carroll and her daughter had accessed 246 student FOCUS accounts. The accounts are part of the FOCUS program, the school district’s student information system, to which Carroll had district-level access.
“In October 2020, hundreds of votes for Tate High School’s Homecoming Court voting were flagged as fraudulent, with 117 votes originating from the same IP address within a short period of time,” said a FDLE spokesperson.
“Agents uncovered evidence of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cell phone as well as computers associated with their residence, with a total of 246 votes cast for the Homecoming Court.”
When police interviewed students at Grover’s high school, many of them reported hearing Grover describe how she had used her mother’s FOCUS account to cast homecoming queen votes for herself.
“The investigation also found that beginning August 2019, Carroll’s FOCUS account accessed 372 high school records and 339 of those were of Tate High School students,” said the FLDE.
The county’s State Attorney’s Office has reportedly stated that eighteen-year-old Grover, who was aged 17 at the time of the alleged offense, will be tried as an adult when her case comes to court next week..