Former Florida Republican Party Chairman Sentenced

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Associated Press Release


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida was sentenced to one and a half years for stealing more than $125,000 in party funds.

Jim Greer was sentenced in Orlando Wednesday, more than a month after he pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and a single count of money laundering. Circuit Judge Marc Lubet handed down a sentence that was less severe than the 3 1/2 years in prison requested by prosecutors.

A trial had threatened to expose the underbelly of Florida's dominant political party and its formerly high-spending ways.

Topics covered in pretrial depositions included allegations of prostitutes at a state GOP fundraiser in the Bahamas, the drinking habits of former Gov. Charlie Crist and intraparty strife.

Prosecutors say Greer funneled almost $200,000 to a company he had formed with his right-hand man and kept $125,000 for himself.

By: Mike Vasilinda
February 11, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer entered a guilty plea today to four counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering. The plea stems from a Greer scheme to keep ten percent of every dollar raised by the State GOP. The plea keeps many former and current GOP heavy weights from being called as witnesses.

On the day Jim Greer resigned from the State Republican Party Leadership, a paper shredding truck was parked in front of party headquarters.

Three months later an internal audit ordered by interim party chairman, State Senator John Thrasher, found hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on lavish trips and a secret contract to pay Greer a 10 percent commission on every dollar raised. “I was shocked that that’s what I found and after consulting with lawyers in the party and others I turned that information over to the Attorney General who got it to the statewide prosecutor”, says Thrasher via phone.

After years of speculation of what would come out at a trial, Greer kissed his wife as he entered an Orlando courtroom and changed his plea. “Mr. Greer would withdraw his previously entered plea of not guilty and plead guilty”, says Greer’s attorney during a hearing.

The plea avoids the possibility of airing dirty laundry about credit card expenses and what Greer and elected officials did on trips to the Bahamas and elsewhere.

The current party leadership is quick to point out that former Republican, now Democrat, Charlie Crist was responsible for bringing Greer to Tallahassee. “Charlie Crist handpicked Jim Greer out of obscurity to be the chairman of this party. No one in this party has ever heard of Jim Geer before Charlie Crist was elected Governor here in the state of Florida”, says Mike Grissom, Republican Party of Florida Executive Director.

But it was Crist who later went to the Department of Law Enforcement and complained that Geer was trying to blackmail him.

For his plea, Greer will face no more than about three and a half years behind bars.

Associated Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering just before jury selection in his criminal trial got under way.

Jury selection was set to begin Monday, but neither Greer nor prosecutors appeared in the courtroom. The only sign of Greer's presence in the Orange County Courthouse were his wife and infant daughter.

Greer had earlier pleaded not guilty to allegations that he funneled almost $200,000 of party money into a company he had formed with his right-hand man.

Greer says party leaders were aware of the company and that his prosecution is political payback. Sentencing is March 27 and he faces up to 35 years in prison.

Associated Press Release

Orlando, FL - The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida is set to go on trial on fraud and theft charges.
The trial starting Monday will likely include testimony about questionable behavior and intraparty strife that will make both GOP leaders and rank-and-file members cringe.

Jurors will have to decide if Jim Greer committed a crime when he channeled more than $200,000 of party money to his company, or whether the charges against him are revenge for the waning popularity of his political patron, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

The trial could have political ramifications for Crist and some prominent Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

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