Friday, December 15, 2017
Politics

North Florida state attorney drops out of race after crime database accusations

TALLAHASSEE — A North Florida state attorney has reached an agreement that will allow him to avoid prosecution for using law enforcement databases to research his political opponents and others.

Robert "Skip'' Jarvis of Live Oak was due to appear before a Leon County grand jury this week in an investigation prompted by complaints from a former assistant. At the last minute, Jarvis decided to drop out of the race to win re-election as part of an agreement to avoid prosecution.

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott appointed State Attorney Brad King of Ocala to investigate Jarvis after former Assistant State Attorney Michael San Fillipo of Madison filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. King, in a memo to Scott released Wednesday, said Jarvis agreed to leave office at the end of his term in January and will no longer be allowed access to the state and federal databases his office uses. In return, King has agreed to take no further action against Jarvis.

The agreement allows Jarvis to escape probable felony charges for violating state and federal laws that restrict access to databases that are for law enforcement purposes only — the National Crime Information Center, the Florida Crime Information Center and the Driver and Vehicle Information Database.

The deal also is likely to clear the way for a Republican to win the top prosecuting job in the seven Florida counties of the 3rd Circuit for the first time in modern history. Former Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister is the GOP nominee. Democrats have until Tuesday to find another candidate. The circuit includes Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Dixie, Columbia, Lafayette and Hamilton counties.

Jarvis said he was ready to fight the allegations "hell for leather'' until prosecutors suggested he could lose his pension. He said he does not believe he committed a crime.

Jarvis said he is not aware of any federal investigation involving his use of the databases.

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