Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
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Cox: Prosecutors in Greer case not aware of lawsuit settlement
Posted Feb 11, 2013 by William March
Updated Feb 11, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Statewide prosecutor Nick Cox, in charge of the prosecution of former state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, said the prosecution isn’t aware of any compensation or civil suit settlement for Greer in return for his guilty plea today on charges of stealing money from the party.
After Greer suddenly changed his plea in the criminal case to guilty this morning, speculation flared that the plea was motivated by a promise of a settlement in Greer’s lawsuit against the Republican Party, or some other compensation for Greer or his family in return for the plea.
Big-name Republicans in Florida could have been embarrassed by testimony in the criminal trial, in which Greer threatened testimony that would expose misbehavior by some of the party’s high-profile leaders.
At the same time, Greer was suing the party for severance pay he says he was promised but never received. Greer has said he’s been financially devastated by the case.
Cox said neither he nor, to his knowledge, anyone else working with the prosecution ever asked whether Greer’s plea change was motivated by any promise from anyone of compensation or a civil suit settlement.
Greer’s plea, Cox said, didn’t result from a plea agreement, in which the prosecution typically agrees to reduced charges or sentence in return for the plea.
“It was an open plea—he pled guilty as charged,” Cox said. Earlier attempts to reach an agreement had failed.
He said the prosecution will argue in the March 27 sentencing hearing for the sentence recommended by the statutory “score sheet” for the crimes and circumstances in the case, 42 months in prison.
Cox acknowledged that one count of money laundering to which Greer pled guilty was reduced in degree, and one count of scheming to defraud was dropped, but said those steps were taken for legal reasons, not as any inducement to Greer.
As to the civil suit, Cox said, “I saw them as two different things, and I didn’t care” if there was a settlement.
If Greer is receiving a settlement, “I’m not aware of anything like that,” he said. “I didn’t ask – I don’t think any of our trial lawyers did.”
Asked whether it would be proper for Greer to receive such compensation in return for pleading guilty, he said, “I haven’t thought about it – I don’t know.”
Lawyers for the Republican Party and Greer couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday on whether the status of the civil suit.