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Sansom in Court on Friday

January 7th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Embattled former House Speaker Ray Sansom will be in court again Friday in Tallahassee, where he will likely be arraigned on two new charges, Conspiracy to commit grand theft, and grand theft itself. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the House of Representatives will also argue for the release of his Grand Jury testimony to be used against him in a legislative disciplinary hearing.

The Special Prosecutor for the House of Representatives is seeking the release of former Speaker Ray Sansoms grand jury testimony. In a filing, she said its needed to pursue disciplinary charges that could include expulsion.

Because Sansoms lawyers have already said they will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, House lawyers want his Grand Jury testimony to go forward with an evidentiary hearing later this month.

Sansom is also likely to be arraigned on two new charges filed this week: Conspiracy to commit grand theft, and grand theft itself. The charges were filed after an official misconduct charge was thrown out.

Official Misconduct is a very weak statute in the sense that it has to be a falsification of a document, states attorney Willie Meggs said. And of course our trial court judge has ruled that the appropriations act cant be falsified.

The charges stem from a legislative appropriation allegedly engineered by Sansom to build an aircraft hangar for a friend disguised as a college building at the Destin airport. Meggs says the conduct was just plain wrong.

We cant do a lot of things, but we can find money to build an aircraft hangar for a college that doesnt have any airplanes, Meggs said. Thats wrong.

The House committee pursuing disciplinary charges is set to meet January 25th.

Even if Sansom is found not guilty of the criminal charges, he could still face censure or expulsion from the Legislature for embarrassing the House and undermining confidence in the institution.

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