A Sumter County commissioner has entered a plea in his perjury case.
Gary Search, a resident of the Village of Amelia, entered a plea of not guilty through his attorney Tuesday in Marion County Court. Search was not present at the arraignment.
The 71-year-old commissioner, suspended earlier this month from his elected position by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is being represented by attorney Richard Hornsby. Judge Peter Brigham set a pretrial conference for April 19 in Search’s case.
Oren Miller, a resident of the Village of Sanibel, previously waived arraignment in the case. He has also entered a plea of not guilty and, like Search, he is facing a third degree felony charge of perjury. They both were arrested Dec. 15. Both remain free on bond.
Miller, Search and Craig Estep were elected in 2020 after commissioners, seen as puppets of the Developer of The Villages, forced through a highly unpopular 25 percent tax increase on homeowners. The trio attempted to make good on their promise to shift the tax burden from homeowners to impact fees paid by developers. The Villages fought the move tooth-and-nail and eventually enlisted state Rep. Brett Hage to change the law. DeSantis signed off on the measure.