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New judges assigned to county cases

Officials have assigned different judges to hear two prominent Citrus County court cases after the original judges recused themselves. Circuit Judge John Thurman has been assigned to hear the case of Ron Roppolo, a Crystal River police sergeant facing three misdemeanor charges, according to court records filed Monday.

Circuit Judge William Edwards, who assigns cases in Citrus, made that decision after County Judge Gary Graham recused himself from the case.

Thurman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the second case, Circuit Judge Raymond T. McNeal, who sits in Ocala, is scheduled to preside over the trial of Henry Malcolm Ayers, the Crystal River sporting goods shop owner accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill several prominent residents.

Both Graham and Thurman stepped down from the Ayers case. Edwards was one of the men Ayers allegedly wanted killed, court records show.

Circuit Judge William T. Swigert made that assignment, officials said.

Roppolo is one of three Crystal River police officers indicted earlier this month. He faces charges of petty theft, perjury in an unofficial proceeding and making a false official statement.

Roppolo recently pleaded innocent to the three charges. No other court date has been announced.

Ayers' trial is scheduled to begin soon. But prosecutors filed a notice that they intend to take depositions from 21 additional witnesses March 9.

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