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Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Jim Greer won two terms as a city councilman in Oviedo and ran the Republican Party of Florida for three years before an ouster that eventually led to a criminal trial.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013 5 years ago

Former GOP Chair Jim Greer gets 18 months

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For multiple felonies
by: Isaac Babcock Managing Editor

Former Oviedo City Councilman and Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer will spend 18 months in prison for larceny and money laundering. He was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to prison time plus a year of probation for funneling money from the party into Victory Strategies, a company he owned.

"You egregiously violated a position of trust," Judge Marc Lubet said in Orange County Courthouse Room 6B, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

As part of a plea deal that helped determine a far lower sentence than the 35 years he was facing, Greer was forced to pay the party $65,000 and drop a lawsuit in which he alleged the party owed him a six figure payday after he was forced out of the party in early 2010. His indictment that year included six felony counts.

"We strongly argued that this convicted criminal be sentenced to a harsher prison sentence," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a released statement. "Nonetheless, the Office of Statewide Prosecution did an excellent job prosecuting this case."

The sentencing wrote the final abbreviated chapter in a story in which Greer said he would "sing like a songbird" and tell tales on the front pages of newspapers and on TV about deals and scandals in the Republican Party of Florida. On the verge of a trial on Feb. 11 of this year he suddenly pleaded guilty, averting a trial that was expected to be devastating to the party.

Greer had risen to power by helping the election campaign of Gov. Charlie Crist and the Republican Party, getting the role of chairman in 2006. Up to that point he had been an Oviedo city councilman and deputy mayor while running a company, Regulatory Compliance Services, that helped businesses keep out of trouble with the government by maintaining compliance.

When Greer left Oviedo to officially take his job in Tallahassee in January of 2007, Oviedo Police Chief Charles Drago left the city too. The two had become friends while Greer had been on the Council. Drago was hired at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Relations.

Greer led the party for more than 3 years before trouble began brewing in late 2009 amid rumors that the party was unhappy with fundraising and spending under Greer's helm.

In the meantime his wife, Lisa, and four (soon to be five) children continued to live in their home in a gated community in Oviedo.

After his ouster in 2010, legal battles were waged both ways when the party alleged that Greer had funneled money illegally into his own pockets, and Greer charged back that the party owed him more than $100,000 in back pay. After Crist lost his election bid for the U.S. Senate and his gubernatorial term ended, Drago came back to Oviedo. Completing an unusual cycle, Drago's wife, Cindy, successfully ran for a seat on the Oviedo City Council in 2010. In 2012, she successfully defended that seat, just as Greer's prosecution was gathering evidence against him.

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