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Mayor Cleared of Ballot Charges

Associated Press
Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page A08

ORLANDO, April 20 -- A special prosecutor dropped all charges Wednesday against Mayor Buddy Dyer (D) and three others who had been indicted on charges of allegedly violating a state law that prohibits payments for collection of absentee ballots.

Dyer, suspended by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) when the charges were announced March 11, was reinstated hours after the charges were dropped.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and three others had been indicted last month. (File Photo)

The prosecutor's decision also means there will be no May 3 special election to choose a temporary replacement.

Charges were also dropped against Circuit Judge Alan Apte and Dyer's campaign manager, Patti Sharp, who like Dyer had been indicted for providing "pecuniary gain" for the collection or possession of absentee ballots -- the same charge filed against campaign consultant Ezzie Thomas, and dropped.

The four will pay $500 each to defray the costs of the probe.

Neither special prosecutor Brad King nor the grand jury that indicted the four last month found any evidence of fraud.

"There was no evil intent on these people's part," said King, who was brought in from Marion County to oversee the investigation. "They did not believe they were violating the law, I don't think."

However, this case may not be over. King said investigations into matters involving Orlando elections continue, but he refused to divulge details.

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