Former Polk County school official tries to withdraw guilty plea agreement

Published April 8, 2012

Federal prosecutors are fighting efforts of former Polk County school official Bob Williams to back away from his plea deal on charges of taking bribes from a construction company.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert T. Monk wrote in a 22-page response filed last week that Williams entered into the plea deal "freely, voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently."

He wrote that Williams doesn't deny committing a crime but "merely wishes to now take advantage of a technical charging error in the indictment."

Last month, poor wording in the grand jury's indictment led to the collapse of a two-week trial against the construction company and its vice president.

The indictment mistakenly states that Polk County was responsible for building schools, receiving related federal money, and employing Williams. It should have used the words, "Polk County School Board."

A federal judge acquitted M.M. Parrish Construction Co. of Gainesville and Lloyd Whann on all charges.

Days later, Williams filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced April 26.

Monk urged U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara to deny Williams' request to back out of the plea deal.

The judge has not made a decision yet, according to court records.