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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

No grand jury for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse scandal



State Attorney Willie Meggs says there will be no grand jury investigation of the new courthouse being built by the 1st District Court of Appeal. The $48 million courthouse has been dubbed a “Taj Mahal’’ for its over-the-top construction and furnishings in the middle of a budget crisis.

“There are probably some things that probably shouldn’t have happened,” Meggs said. “But they did call it a courthouse.’’

The criminal charges Meggs is pursuing against former House Speaker Ray Sansom involve a $6 million airplane hangar allegedly built for a friend that was described as a “joint use work force center.’’

"In this case everybody knew they were building a courthouse,’’ Meggs said. “In Sansom’s case the Department of Education didn’t know they were building a hangar for a college that had no airplanes and no aeronautical program.”

Meggs said he reviewed material furnished by 1st DCA Judge Brad Thomas, one of his former prosecutors, and others and left it up to the grand jury when it convened Wednesday.

"From my perspective I was trying to see what it was I should ask the grand jury to investigate: the process, was anyone misled, the granite countertops and televisions?’’ Meggs asked. “I see a major distinction between this and the airplane hangar because they were always talking about a courthouse.’’
Lucy Morgan


[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:32pm]


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