Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox says he has received no credible information indicating Greer is being paid to plead guilty and has heard nothing to indicate it would be a crime.
If someone decided to make a philanthropic gift of money to help Greer pay a lawyer or help his wife and five children, it would not be against the law, Cox said.
But if someone threatened him to make him enter a plea or sought help in covering up a criminal act, that could be a crime and it would be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement agency, Cox added.
Asked if anyone had paid money to Greer in return for his guilty plea, Chase responded by email: “I can neither confirm nor deny it. Sorry.’’
Johnson, who took an immunity agreement to testify against Greer, said: “I think he was paid. I couldn’t imagine why else he would make that change. But I don’t think any of us will ever know.’’
Johnson and other witnesses are relieved the case is essentially over.
“I’ve learned what is most important, my family and God,’’ Johnson said. “I saw a lot of the bad, the good and the ugly in politics. I got caught up in the whole bubble that is Tallahassee.’’
There is no question that a lot of Republican Party officials, current and former legislators, former Gov. Charlie Crist and a host of others are glad they will not have to climb on the witness stand and answer questions about the way the party was operating when Greer was chairman.
But who would help Greer?
Former Republican Party Finance Chairman Harry Sargeant III, a billionaire owner of an oil shipping business, has helped Greer in the past. While Greer was party chairman, Sargeant paid Greer $10,000 a month for 22 months, over his 130,000 party salary. Greer, in a deposition last year, said he earned the money as a “business consultant to Sargeant Oil.’’
Sargeant would not take telephone calls from a Times reporter. A woman who answered the telephone at his South Florida office repeatedly hung up on a reporter Wednesday.
Sargeant is a well-known Republican donor who has frequently provided airplanes to Crist and other public officials. Sargeant and Crist were fraternity brothers at Florida State University. If Crist decides to run for governor as a Democrat next year, he expects support from Sargeant.
Sargeant also helped Greer organize a now-famous trip to the Bahamas in 2008. A sealed report on the trip includes a description of a golf cart filled with prostitutes at a resort where Greer, Crist and others had a weekend retreat with big donors who helped Crist pass a constitutional amendment expanding Florida’s homestead exemption. Prosecutors could have questioned the trip and its impact on testimony from participants who supported Greer.
In recent years, Sargeant has made headlines over petroleum products he supplied to American forces in Iraq. The brother-in-law of the king of Jordan sued Sargeant in Palm Beach and won a $28.8 million verdict for cutting him out of $1.4 billion defense contract that allowed Sargeant to transport fuel through Jordan.
A congressional oversight committee called for an investigation of payments made to his company and last year auditors for the Department of Defense accused Sargeant’s company of overcharging the Pentagon by more than $200 million. A federal investigation is ongoing.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.