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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansom case lands back in McCollum's lap



Ray Sansom has an early Christmas gift for Attorney General Bill McCollum.

McCollum's office has to wade into the political caper one last time after Sansom appealed a Leon County Circuit Court decision that kept prosecutor Willie Meggs on the job.

Sansom and his co-defendants Jay Odom and Bob Richburg accused Meggs of misconduct in his actions with a grand jury and the case in general. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis found some fault with Meggs but said it fell short of misconduct and denied the motion to throw Meggs off the case. Background here.

Unsatisfied, Sansom recently filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeal. Now it's up to McCollum's office to defend Meggs. McCollum has until Dec. 17 to file a response why the petition should not be granted.

The Attorney General's office represents state attorneys in court challenges, and this is not the first appeal McCollum has had to tackle. When the judge dismissed part of the official misconduct charge against Sansom, the AG's office prepared an appeal. But then Meggs changed course and charged the men with grand theft.

McCollum also deemed as "very questionable" a secretive meeting Sansom helped set up with the trustees of Northwest Florida State College. In that meeting, held at a private club in Tallahassee, Sansom outlined legislation that he and the college president worked on to create a new tier of state colleges.

Sansom, as we reported earlier this week, landed a new job at an alternative school in Crestview. But controversy has followed him there, as well. The woman who held the job of dean of students before him said she was ousted so Sansom could be hired.

Melanie Newton burst into tears when she told the Northwest Florida Daily News that Okaloosa Academy Charter School had selected her replacement before firing her. Terri Roberts, chief operating officer of the Rader Group, which gets taxpayer funds to run the Crestview school, disputed Newton's story Wednesday. She said Newton resigned but changed her mind after Sansom was hired.

Citing his new job, Sansom has asked his trial be delayed until June or July.

[Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 5:22pm]


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