Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Florida developer to enter plea in federal campaign finance case

TALLAHASSEE — Panhandle developer Jay Odom will appear in federal court next week to enter a plea to federal campaign finance violations.

U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier has scheduled a hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday to allow Odom to enter a plea. He faces a maximum five-year prison sentence on charges that he laundered $23,000 in contributions to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2007.

Odom, 56, was indicted last month as part of an investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section. He is accused of using the names of 10 people to make 2,300 donations each to Huckabee's presidential campaign.

The presence of public corruption prosecutors generally signals a broader investigation than is indicated by the charges against Odom, but federal officials have refused to talk about the possibility of additional charges against others.

Odom, the owner of Destin Jet, is the man who persuaded former House Speaker Ray Sansom to include $6 million in the state budget for Northwest Florida College to build him an airplane hangar on land at the Destin Airport.

Sansom was forced to resign in the midst of an investigation that began when he accepted a high-paying job at the college after funneling more than $35 million in construction funds to the college.

Sansom, Odom and former college president Bob Richburg were indicted in 2009 on charges stemming from the hangar appropriation but the charges were dropped mid trial after a judge restricted evidence that State Attorney Willie Meggs could use.

Tallahassee lawyer Jimmy Judkins represents Odom but would not discuss the case except to confirm he will enter a plea.

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Published: 02/17/18