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Gov. wants jury to investigate public offices, corruption

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

Gov. Charlie Crist seeks to form a statewide grand jury to investigate criminal activity committed by public officials while acting in their official capacity.
Filed Wednesday with the Florida Supreme Court, the petition is aimed at public officials who have “abused their powers gained by virtue of their position” across a number of judicial circuits.
According to the petition, the grand jury looks to investigate the following offenses:
— Bribery, burglary, carjacking, home invasion robbery, criminal usury, extortion, gambling, kidnapping, larceny, murder, prostitution, perjury and robbery.
— Crimes involving narcotics or other dangerous drugs.
— Violations of the provisions of the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization or RICO Act.
— Computer-related crimes including pornography and child exploitation.
— Fraud.
— Falsifying information, misuse of confidential information and money laundering, bid tampering, official misconduct, threats against a public servant.
“A recent rash of crimes committed by public officials in South Florida has led to a crisis of confidence among those who have elected them to office,” Crist said in a prepared statement released Wednesday. “I have petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a Grand Jury to investigate these crimes, bring indictments and provide specific recommendations to address fundamental problems within the system that may be cultivating a culture of corruption.”
Southwest Florida is included in the “base operating area,” according to the petition.
The 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th and 11th judicial circuits are included in the investigation, though it is not limited strictly to those circuits.
The 20th Judicial Circuit includes Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Glades and Hendry counties.
It is unclear what agencies or public offices, if any, from Lee County could potentially be investigated.
The governor’s press office did not return a call seeking further comment Thursday.