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Former Florida Republican Party chief gets 18-month prison term

Former Florida state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer is seen in a Seminole County Sheriff's Office booking mug shot following his indict
Former Florida state Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer is seen in a Seminole County Sheriff's Office booking mug shot following his indict

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The former chairman of the Florida Republican Party was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for money laundering and stealing party funds.

Jim Greer, who resigned as state party chief shortly before his 2010 indictment, also was ordered to serve a year of probation.

Greer, 50, pleaded guilty last month to five charges, averting a trial that threatened to reveal potentially embarrassing details about the state party organization.

As part of his plea deal, an organized fraud charge against him was dropped.

Greer made restitution to the Florida Republican Party on Monday via a $65,000 wire transfer, party spokesman Steven Dobson confirmed to Circuit Judge Marc Lubet before the sentence was imposed.

While serving as the party's paid chairman, Greer concealed his partial ownership of a company hired by the party to handle fundraising duties in exchange for 10 percent of all major contributions.

Greer said then-Governor Charlie Crist knew about the arrangement, which Crist denied in an affidavit.

Prosecutor Michael Williams urged the judge to sentence Greer to 42.6 months, the amount of time recommended under sentencing guidelines.

Greer's lawyer, Damon Chase, argued for probation.

The judge said Greer had "egregiously violated a position of trust."

But he said he also took into consideration the fact that Greer's co-conspirator, Delmar Johnson, who cooperated with prosecutors, was not charged at all. Johnson also was ordered to pay $65,000 in restitution but "has not paid back a dime," the judge said.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Kenneth Barry)

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