Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
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Greer: There are no plea negotiations, tape exonerates him
Posted Jul 25, 2012 by William March
Updated Jul 25, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Through his lawyer, former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer says a newly released tape of a recorded conversation exonerates him of the charges he faces of defrauding the party, and denies that there are plea negotiations in the case.
The tape is a recording of a 2 1/2-hour conversation in early spring 2010 between Greer and former party executive director Delmar Johnson, who had then become an informant and witness against Greer, and was using a concealed recording device, said Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase. The conversation took place at Greer’s home and at a sports bar.
Chase said the tape makes it clear that Greer was not aware that Victory Strategies, a company set up by Greer and Johnson, was charging the Republican Party illicitly for political services. Those charges form the basis of the fraud accusation against Greer.
“The recording clearly proves beyond any doubt that Jim Greer had no idea what Delmar was doing with Victory Strategies and the Republican Party finances, and that Delmar was the one driving the bus,” Chase said. “It is the smoking gun that completely exonerates Greer.”
Chase’s comments came late Wednesday—too late to reach anyone representing the prosecution for a response.
Chase also denied a suggestion by state Sen. John Thrasher, a former state party chairman who followed Greer in the post and is a likely witness against him, that there are plea negotiations in the case.
Asked whether there had been any in the past, he said, “Of course there were preliminary discussions any lawyer and prosecutor would have, early on – what is the state looking for, what are you trying to accomplish – but those were not really plea negotiations, and never resulted in any formal offers from either side,” Chase said. Greer “has always maintained his innocence, and there are no negotiations going on now, nor will there be.”
Thrasher couldn’t be reached for comment either.
Chase said the recording was made within days after another recording of a phone call between Johnson and Greer.
That earlier recording suggests that Greer was already suspicious that Johnson was acting as a witness against him.
Could Greer have been acting innocent during the second recorded conversation because of those suspicions?
Chase denied that, saying that during the conversation, Johnson doesn’t appear to think or to suggest that Greer should have had knowledge of the allegedly fraudulent charges. Chase also said he doesn’t know whether prosecutors have listened to the tape yet.
The tape is part of a batch of documents a judge ruled last week the prosecution most provide to Chase, who sought them after taking over as Greer’s defense lawyer in June.
The order to turn over the documents is a boon for the Republican Party in one way, however—it delays the potentially embarrassing trial until after the November election.
Greer and Chase haven’t hesitated in the past to reach out to the press and public to try to make their case that he has been made a scapegoat by the Republican Party.