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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FBI turns focus to GEO prison deal involving Ray Sansom



UPDATE 1:10 p.m. Wednesday: Sansom tells the Associated Press he had nothing to do with the prison contract.

The FBI on Tuesday seized a computer of a Santa Rosa County commissioner in a probe of a private prison that former House Speaker Ray Sansom was instrumental in creating, according to a news report.

The computer was taken for a federal grand jury probe of Sansom's political dealings. More here from the Pensacola News Journal.

Blackwater River Correctional Facility, owned by GEO Group, is the state's newest and largest private prison. Sansom was instrumental in its creation in 2007, according to the News-Journal. At the time, the Destin Republican was House budget chairman, a member of the TEAM Santa Rosa economic development group and worked for an Alabama electric co-op that sold power in the Panhandle

Federal officials are also looking at Sansom's use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card, on which he charged about $173,000, including thousands that did not appear related to party business.

Supooneas issued for Santa Rosa County also seek records related to an array of officials and businesses, including Ray Sansom Inc., but the purpose of the inquiry is unclear.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:23pm]


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