ORLANDO — An Orange County judge on Thursday set an October trial date for the ousted chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
The trial of Jim Greer on theft, fraud and money laundering charges is to begin Oct. 18. Greer, who has pleaded not guilty, wasn't at the hearing. Neither were his attorneys.
Greer, 48, who lives in Oviedo in nearby Seminole County, was the head of the state GOP for three years until his forced resignation in January. He is accused of creating a company called Victory Strategies to funnel donations made to the party to himself. He's charged with grand theft, money laundering and organized fraud, and faces up to 75 years in prison.
Greer was a private businessman and small-town politician on the city councils in Palm Bay and Oviedo before he became the state party boss, in large part because of his close friendship with and fundraising for Gov. Charlie Crist.
His chairmanship started in January 2007. It ended almost exactly three years later, thanks to increasingly insistent calls from people within the party that it was time for him to go. At the party helm, records show, he spent lavishly on five-star accommodations, chartered jets and fine steak house fare from Florida to Washington to Beverly Hills.
The luxe front continued, investigators say, even as his personal finances plunged because of poor investments.
Greer started Victory Strategies with associate Delmar Johnson. Johnson, a young Florida State grad who kept getting promoted during Greer's tenure until he was the party's executive director, avoided prison time by helping investigators build their case against Greer.
The twice-married father of four was arrested in Oviedo the first week of June in his 3,700-square-foot house that sits behind a gate on a street called Prestige Point.
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8751.