Ex-Fla. GOP chairman charged with felony theft

Former leader of the Florida GOP charged with organized scheme to defraud, felony grand theft, money laundering

Published June 2, 2010 4:02PM (EDT)

The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida has been arrested for allegedly running a scam bilking money from the party.

The Florida Department of Law enforcement took Jim Greer into custody Wednesday at his Orlando-area home. The 47-year-old has been charged with six counts of organized scheme to defraud, four counts of felony grand theft and one count of money laundering.

Greer resigned in February after reports surfaced that he used party funds on ritzy hotels, gourmet restaurants and private jets.

His steep descent from party chairman to pariah could drag down Gov. Charlie Crist's bid for U.S. Senate. The two are longtime allies, and Crist backed Greer until the day he stepped down.

Greer's attorney did not immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he's surprised and disappointed to learn that former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer has been arrested.

Crist said Wednesday he was not questioned by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and he doesn't think the arrest will hurt his Senate campaign.

Crist hand-picked Greer for the chairmanship after Greer helped him get elected in 2006.

The charges against Greer are expected to be announced later Wednesday. He has been under investigation since an audit found he awarded himself and his executive director a fundraising contract that paid them about $200,000.

He resigned the chairmanship in February under pressure.

Crist is running for Senate as an independent after polls showed he couldn't win a GOP primary against tea party favorite Marco Rubio.

By Mike Schneider

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