Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer reaches plea deal

Jim Greer, the former Florida Republican Party chairman whose trial on six counts of corruption was set to begin Monday, has accepted a plea deal that will save Florida Republicans what threatened to be a major headache.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Greer will plead guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering. It's not clear whether or how much jail time his sentence will include, but he faces up to 35 years. The sentencing hearing is set for March 27.

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist (R).

Greer's trial threatened to cause real problems for the Florida GOP, given his alliance with former governor Charlie Crist and the bad blood that resulted from Crist's 2010 Senate campaign and Greer's ouster.

Greer seemed to relish the opportunity to lay bare that party's inner workings in retaliation for what he saw as the party's vendetta against him.

“This trial won’t be good for anybody,” Greer said in an interview with The Broward-Palm Beach New Times recently. “People need to know what goes on behind the curtain in the Republican Party, and before the Republicans tried to destroy me, they should have thought about what the consequences were going to be.”

The trial also threatened Crist, who appointed Greer as party chairman in 2006 and was slated to testify. Crist recently became a Democrat and is expected to seek that party's nomination for governor in 2014. He has said he was not aware of the corruption.

At issue in the case was Greer's role in steering $125,000 of party funds into a personal account, through a shell fundraising company known as Victory Strategies.

Florida Republicans rejoiced at the news, saying Greer has now rendered void his accusations of a politically motivated vendetta.

"For the past three years, Jim Greer has tried to damage the reputation of the Republican Party and its leaders, but the truth is now known that Jim Greer broke the law, stole from RPOF and our donors, and then said and did everything he could to cover up and distract attention from his crimes," Florida GOP executive director Mike Grissom said. "Everything Jim Greer has said and done over these past few years should be considered in that light."

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