Lehigh fire board candidate facing grand theft charge

Published: August 4, 2016 11:21 AM EDT
Updated: August 4, 2016 6:51 PM EDT

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A Lehigh fire board candidate is accused of stealing six lawnmowers donated to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry counties, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said.

Robert Anderson, 50, is facing a felony grand theft charge for allegedly taking the mowers, which collectively have a book value of nearly $1,000, according to an arrest report. He’s currently out on bond.

The fire district had deemed the mowers expendable after hiring a lawn service, and in May the board voted to donate the mowers to the home-building charity, which believed it could sell them for $1,500 to support its nonprofit work. Anderson, who doesn’t currently serve on the board, said the mowers were donated in error and took them.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has since seized the mowers as evidence.

Anderson, a longtime community activist who publishes an online newspaper called the Lehigh Acres Gazette, is one of five candidates for the seat currently occupied by Larry Becker.

“He stirs a lot of problems up and misquotes a lot of people in the paper,” said William Liedtke, one of Anderson’s opponents for the seat. “And this is just one more thing that he got his nose in where it didn’t belong, and he got caught.”

Anderson, who could face prison time if convicted, and Habitat for Humanity officials denied comment.