Former Florida GOP chair gets 1 1/2 years

Former Florida GOP chair gets 1 1/2 years

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida is going to prison.  Jim Greer faced a judge on Tuesday for stealing more than $125,000 in party funds.  It comes more than a month after he pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and a single count of money laundering.

The guidelines called for 3-and-a-half years behind bars, but instead, Circuit Judge Marc Lubet gave Greer 18 months.

"You are now a convicted felon sir," the judge stated after handing down the sentencing. 

With those words, Greer was fingerprinted and handcuffed by deputies.  As his wife and family looked on, Greer apologizedthrough his lawyer.

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

"We got a guilty plea, as charged basically, and18 months prison. I know it's kind of a rhetorical question, but how many of you --when the indictment came down -- thought he was going to serve a day of time?" asked prosecutor Michael Williams.   "We're very happy with incarceration. You know, we thought the case called forincarceration," he added.

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.

Two big bombshells that came from the hearing was the revelation that Greer paid $65,000 in restitution to the Republican Party and the accusation by Greer's attorney that Crist lied under oath about his knowledge of Greer'sfundraising activities and Greer taking a cut of the money.

"Charlie Crist sacrificed Jim Greer, hispolitical buddy at the time, on the altar of Charlie Crist's own ambition," said Greer's attorney Damon Chase, "whichis outrageous!"

Williams said the prosecution thought Crist was sobusy being governor that he probably did not know about how Greer was takingmoney from the party.  He said he would not pursue Crist, unless his bossesassigned him to investigate.  He also added that he has visited all of the stateprisons, and there is no way Greer is headed off to some "country club" to serve time.

 

Information taken from the Associated Press with contributions from FOX 35's Mike Synan.

 

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