Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Blueberry Festival bribe complaint unfounded, state attorney says

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners and the organizer of the Florida Blueberry Festival have committed no crime and no fraud, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Hernando County resident and government critic Dennis Purdy last week filed a criminal complaint accusing the commissioners of taking bribes from festival organizer Michael Heard in return for their support of the event, scheduled for this weekend in downtown Brooksville.

The commissioners were promised the same package as other festival sponsors, including passes to the event and the concert as well as parking privileges and mention in advertisements. In his complaint, Purdy said this amounted to a bribe.

After reviewing the case, the Hogan Law Firm, which represents the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, stated "neither the Board of County Commissioners, nor the president of the Blueberry Festival, Ms. Heard, committed a fraud.'' The firm then deferred to the State Attorney's Office.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson reviewed the case and he and State Attorney Brad King agreed that no fraud was committed by any of the parties, according to a memo released Thursday by Detective Dustin Mormando.

"This just proves that the charges were far-fetched and frivolous from the beginning,'' said commission chairman Dave Russell. "Unfortunately, the allegations had to be dealt with up through the channels.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected].

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