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WUSF News Staff
Mon February 11, 2013
Greer Pleads Guilty
Despite promising that his trial would be "a Shakespearean play where everyone dies in the end," former Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer instead pleaded guilty Monday morning to four charges of grand theft.
The Tampa Bay Times reports jury selection had been expected to begin this morning.
Instead, Greer stood next to his lawyer Damon Chase a little before 10:30 a.m. and entered guilty pleas as part of a last-minute deal with prosecutors.
Greer decline to comment as he left the courtroom. Said Chase: “Sometimes clearing your name is not as important as taking care of your family.”
Greer had faced six felony charges including four counts of grand theft, money laundering and organized scheme to defraud. He was accused of reckless party spending, as well as concealing his ownership of a company he set up to raise funds for the state Republican Party.
Prosecutor Nick Cox stressed to the Times that Greer did not reach a plea bargain.
Attempts to reach agreement on a plea languished for months until Jacksonville defense attorney Hank Coxe stepped into the case and pushed for a settlement. Prosecutors said they do not know who hired Coxe, who was present in the courtroom but did not speak. Contacted later, Coxe said Greer hired him. Greer has frequently said the prolonged criminal case has left him broke and unable to find a job.
"We do see him going to jail, but don't know how long we'll recommend,'' said assistant statewide prosecutor Michael S. Williams, the lead trial prosecutor on the case.
Greer faces up to three and a half years in prison. Sentencing is set for March 27th.