GOP Florida House candidate put on probation after lying about degree
© Melissa Howard for Florida House

A former Republican candidate who dropped out of the race for a Florida legislative seat last month following reports that she lied about graduating from college will be performing community service to avoid prosecution.

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The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Friday that Melissa Howard will be required to perform 25 hours of community service after she reached a plea deal with prosecutors this week in a misdemeanor fraud case following reports that she lied about graduating from Miami University in Ohio.

Howard reportedly signed the deferred prosecution agreement on Friday. Under the terms of the agreement, the former District 73 state House candidate is required to perform all 25 hours of community service within the next two months.

Howard is also prohibited from using “intoxicants to excess” and has been directed to maintain “stable, lawful employment” or be enrolled in an education program, among other requirements.

If she is successful in completing her community service and 90 days of probation, Howard will not be formally charged with a crime.

“We believe that this sanction holds Mrs. Howard accountable for her actions,” Darlene Ragoonanan, the misdemeanor and juvenile division chief in Manatee County for the 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, told the local publication.

Howard dropped out of the race for the state legislature last month after it was revealed that she lied about earning a Bachelor of Science in marketing at Miami University and that a diploma she posted in a photo was fake.