TALLAHASSEE — On the day Jim Greer was jailed for alleged fraud, the former Republican Party of Florida chairman found himself in a strange world as he scrambled to find a bail bondsman, his lawyer, a suit for his first court appearance and his kid's tennis coach to cancel a lesson, according to recordings of his phone calls from the Seminole County Detention Center.
The recordings, which have received scant attention in the press, reveal a bewildered Greer, who had garnered a reputation as a high-rolling party boss. In jail, Greer often didn't know the time, had little clue about the specific charges against him and acknowledged that jail was "tough."
But Greer also struck a defiant tone and said he was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct. Greer's wife, Lisa Greer, also made sure to bolster her husband's spirits.
"Now listen, there's going to be press all over this," she told him. "So you smile. You hold your head up high. And don't walk in there like a beaten down dog, you hear?"
"Okay," he told her.
Greer is charged with one count of organized fraud, four counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering. He is accused of funneling $125,000 in Republican Party donor money through a secretive shell company, called Victory Strategies, into his personal account plus another $40,000 from a political committee he used to secure his re-election as chairman. His alleged co-conspirator, former party executive director Delmar Johnson, has agreed to testify against Greer to avoid jail time.
Greer has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, J. Cheney Mason, plans to ask a judge to suppress some evidence against his client and to disqualify the Office of Statewide Prosecution from the case.
The office is housed under Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Greer critic. Greer has called the case against him a witch hunt by former party leaders whom he is suing. Statewide prosecutor William N. Shepherd, a onetime McCollum campaign contributor, said his office is independent from the attorney general.
In one of the recorded phone calls, Greer's friend, Realtor Gene Collins, went a step further than the former chairman and said the June 2 arrest, in which state police raided Greer's Oviedo home in front of his family, was unbelievable and akin to what "they do in China."
Said Greer: "I just spoke to Marcos Jimenez last night — and he said, 'If they do anything, it will be the biggest prosecutorial misconduct that he's seen in all his years.' "
Jimenez, a former South Florida U.S. attorney, no longer represents Greer. He said he couldn't comment on his discussions with a current or former client.
In the first of the recorded calls from Greer, at 1:20 p.m. June 2, Greer asked Lisa Greer when a friend would stop by the jail and drop off a suit.
"Are the agents still there?" Greer asked.
"Yeah," said his wife, who repeatedly noted their calls were being recorded and that their bank accounts were searched.
"You should show 'em where everything is," Greer said. "There's nothing to hide there. There's that box that Delmar dropped that's in the garage."
About 45 minutes later, Lisa Greer complained in another call that she was "short $1,400" to make bail.
"Nothing's in my name so I have to put up collateral in this whole amount," she said.
Eventually, the family sorted out the bail problem, but Greer had trouble reaching his Tallahassee attorney, Greg Miller, and his wife. He spoke with a baby sitter or family member named Beth, who was at the home during the raid.
"Did they take a lot of stuff with them?" he asked. "I don't really know," she said. "The kids and I got stressed and went away, but I know they took your computer and your phone and even Hunter's computer." Hunter is one of Jim Greer's children.
Greer asked if the agents were nice.
"Sometimes, sometimes not," she said. "They wouldn't let us go anywhere. After they got through with the upstairs searching, they let me and the babies go up and take showers. Then they searched the truck, and then they let us go.
Greer instructed the woman to contact a tennis coach at the Oviedo Riverside Park to cancel one of his children's tennis lessons because he wouldn't be home.
"How are you doing?" she asked.
"Ah. It's pretty tough," he said. "I just can't believe they did it, Beth."
"I just hope that you-know-who drops dead," she said.
Marc Caputo can be reached at [email protected]