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The Villages
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Sumter County administrator among those subpoenaed in Miller perjury case  

The attorney for suspended Sumter County Commissioner Oren Miller has issued several subpoenas for witnesses in his upcoming perjury trial.

Miller was charged with perjury for lying to an investigator looking into alleged violations of the Florida Sunshine Law.

Miller, County Chairman Craig Estep and suspended Commissioner Gary Search were elected in 2020 by voters angry about a 25 percent tax-rate increase approved by commissioners in 2019. They defeated three incumbents by large margins.

Search also was charged with perjury but reached a plea agreement in which he agreed never to seek public office again and cooperate with investigators.

The subpoenas call for the witnesses to appear on Aug. 23-24, the current anticipated trial date. The Republican primary is Aug. 23, where two candidates are running to replace Miller if he is convicted and two candidates are running to replace Search.

Attorney Dock Blanchard issued subpoenas on June 15 to County Administrator Bradley Arnold, Estep, Commissioner Doug Gilpin, Villager Marilyn Iskra, Villager Philip Montalvo, chief state attorney investigator Russell Suess and Sumter County Sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Ford.

Sumter County Administrator Bradley Arnold has been subpoenaed to testify in Oren Miller’s perjury case.

Along with attorney and former judge George Angeliadis, Iskra and Montalvo filed complaints of possible Sunshine Law violations last year against Miller and Search. The two suspended commissioners were not charged with Sunshine Law violations.

The Florida Sunshine Law makes it illegal for two elected officials to discuss government business outside of a meeting, even through a third party.

Iskra is a frequent speaker at county meetings. Montalvo is running for a supervisor post in Community Development District 12.

Angeliadis, who was also subpoenaed by Miller’s attorney, launched an investigation early last year that examined emails between about a dozen people and Estep, Miller and Search. Gilpin, who is running for re-election, has been a frequent critic of the three commissioners.

Last year, the three newly elected commissioners approved an impact fee increase, which was opposed by the Developer and associated companies. The fee increase was rescinded by a retroactive state law cosponsored by state Rep. Brett Hage, who received an annual $350,000 salary from The Villages. Hage is not seeking re-election.

Impact fees are a one-time charge to developers to help pay for infrastructure and other costs.

Roberta Ulrich and Don Wiley were appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace the two suspended commissioners. Ulrich is running for Search’s seat against Reed Panos and Wiley is running for Miller’s seat against Daniel Myslakowski for full terms. Miller failed to collect enough petition signatures to appear on the ballot.

In 2020, write-in candidates filed to oppose those running in the primary, which prevented Democratic and independent voters from casting ballots. They would have been allowed to vote if only Republican candidates were running. The write-in candidates later dropped their bids and endorsed the incumbents.

Villager Marsha Shearer recently requested a federal investigation into the write-in campaigns after a state investigation stalled.

This year, only Republicans are running so far for four commissioner seats, which means Democratic and independent voters currently could cast ballots in those races.



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