OCTOBER 1989: Former Longwood Deputy Mayor Lynette Dennis and City Commissioner Rick Bullington were found guilty in separate Seminole County jury trials of violating the Sunshine Law by discussing city business at a secret meeting. Each was fined $500, placed on probation for 60 days and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service. They also were assessed court costs. During the trials, Dennis and Bullington testified that the unannounced meeting, also attended by former Mayor David Gunter and former City Administrator Gene DeMarie, dealt entirely with political matters. Gunter and DeMarie, however, testified that the proposed acquisition of a utility system and other city business were discussed. Bullington, who was still in office and was seeking re-election, was suspended by the governor. Gunter earlier pleaded no contest to related charges.

JULY 1989: Former Longwood Mayor David Gunter was fined $500 for violating the Sunshine Law. Gunter pleaded no contest on June 30, 1989, to charges he "knowingly attended a meeting at which official acts were taken." Gunter subsequently testified against two other Longwood officials, who were convicted in separate jury trials.

JUNE 1989: Fernandina Beach Mayor Ronnie Sapp and City Commissioner Dale Dees, who had discussed by telephone who would be the town's next mayor, were found guilty by a judge of violating the state Sunshine Law. Sapp, cited for three civil violations of the Sunshine Law, pleaded not guilty. Dees, cited for two violations, pleaded guilty. Both were assessed $26 in court costs and ordered to organize and attend seminars for local officials about the Sunshine Law.

DECEMBER 1988: Two St. Augustine Beach city commissioners, Mary Stallings and Valerie Kroll, were convicted of Sunshine violations related to two radio-telephone calls during which they discussed city business. Six misdemeanor charges related to the two telephone conversations were filed. Stallings, whose commission term had since expired, pleaded no contest to two of the misdemeanor charges and was placed on probation for six months. Kroll pleaded no contest to two civil charges of violating the Sunshine Law and was fined $250 on each charge, plus court costs. Additional misdemeanor charges against Kroll were dropped. Both Kroll and Stallings were suspended by the governor.

SEPTEMBER 1988: Former Polk County Undersheriff John Simpson was fined $250 after pleading no contest to charges of intentionally withholding public records. Polk County Judge Dick Price entered a formal adjudication of guilt against Simpson on the charge, a second-class misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Simpson earlier resigned from the Polk County Sheriff's Department after admitting he omitted the name of a special deputy appointee from a list requested by three newspapers.

NOVEMBER 1987: Ten Auburndale city officials pleaded no contest to charges of violating the state Sunshine Law and paid fines ranging from $25 to $125. All were members of the city's Police Pension Retirement Board, which had met without public notice and awarded a former police chief $81,000 in disability benefits. State Attorney Jerry Hill said he found no criminal intent on the part of the pension board members.

APRIL 1984: Former Bradenton City Clerk Wallie Eyman was convicted of destroying public records sought by a local newspaper, a criminal violation of the state Public Records Law. The clerk was charged with one count of refusing to allow inspection of public records and two counts of destroying public records. Eyman pleaded no contest to one count of destroying public records and was sentenced to three months probation.

DECEMBER 1980: Gov. Bob Graham suspended Waldo City Councilmen Carl Beggs and Manuel Youngblood after they were found guilty by an Alachua County jury in October 1980 of violating the state Sunshine Law. The councilmen were found guilty of one charge of illegally meeting with the town's attorney. Both were later fined $10 each by County Judge Nath Doughtie.

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 1979: Five present and former Reddington Shores city commissioners were fined a total of $1,150 on charges of violating the state Sunshine Law and interfering with an election. The charges resulted from a secret meeting among the town's mayor and four commissioners at which a letter was written that criticized a candidate in a pending election. The letter, signed by the five, was mailed at public expense.

AUGUST 1978: Former Indian Harbor Beach Mayor Jerry James pleaded no contest in Brevard County Court to violating the state Sunshine Law. He was fined $500 and sentenced to six months probation. Judge Daniel Citak suspended half of the fine and prohibited James from holding office during probation.

OCTOBER 1977: Two Glades County commissioners and the former commission chairman were found guilty of violating the state Sunshine Law and fined $500 apiece. They also were sentenced to 60 days in jail, which was suspended. Convicted by Lee County Judge William Nelson of conspiring to hold a special commission meeting without giving public notice were: Commission Chairman Charles Hall, Commissioner John Langdale and former Commission Chairman Joseph Peeples. They are believed to be the first persons convicted under the state Sunshine Law.

Florida Public Records and Open Meetings Laws Prosecutions Database




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