Two Commissioners Plead Not Guilty to Bribery Charges
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Commissioner Tony Parker pleaded not guilty to a federal judge Thursday afternoon. Commissioner Sammy Yearty pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon.
News has spread like wildfire throughout Bronson. A federal indictment states they accepted 10-thousand dollars for a trip to New York City last December.
The campaign signs are still out--part of a successful re-election effort by Tony Parker just Tuesday. Wednesday, an Executive Order from Governor Charlie Crist suspended him from public office. Thursday, he stood in a courtroom in the Gainesville Federal Courthouse pleading not guilty to accepting a bribe.
"I'm just really shocked," says Bronson resident JoAnn Brennan. "Tony was a big part of town."
Sammy Yearty and Tony Parker were each charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and accepting a bribe, relating to 10-thousand dollars in cash they are accused of accepting. Yearty is also charged with making a false statement.
Both men refused to make a statement to WCJB.
County Coordinator Freddie Moody says despite the suspension of two commissioners, it's business as usual in Levy County.
"We still have a quorum of commissioners," says Moody. "Commissioner Nancy Bell was the vice chair. She will now serve as the chairman."
Sammy Yearty's court appearance was Wednesday. He pled not guilty and released on a 50-thousand dollar bond. Tony Parker was released on his own recognizance as long as he meets several terms including a curfew. They are both due back in court December 8th.
If convicted, Yearty and Parker face five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and ten years in prison for the bribery charge. Yearty could face an additional five years on the charge of making a false statement.
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