Former Sumter County Commissioner Oren Miller was convicted of perjury Friday afternoon and will remain behind bars until sentencing.
Miller, a resident of the Village of Sanibel, heard the verdict from the clerk at the conclusion of the trial in Marion County Court at which Judge Anthony M. Tatti presided.
After the verdict was read, Miller was escorted from the courtroom by two deputies. He will be in jail until sentencing.
A six-member jury heard testimony from Sumter County Administrator Bradley Arnold regarding the training that commissioners receive on ethics and the open meetings act, commonly known as the Sunshine Law. Arnold noted that there had been some comments made by Miller and Commissioner Gary Search which indicated a possible violation of the Sunshine Law. Arnold expressed some concern that Miller’s wife may have been acting as a conduit between Miller and other commissioners regarding her and Miller’s longtime crusade about the conditions at the Sumter County Animal Control facility.
County Attorney Jennifer Rey testified as to the training on the Sunshine Law, ethics and the concern she had that the commissioners may have had some out-of-meeting conversations regarding county business.
Search, a resident of the Village of Amelia, testified that he had several conservations with Miller, but denied that they discussed county business. He was not asked about his agreement to take a plea deal, which enabled him to avoid a trial and possible felony conviction. Miller maintained he did nothing wrong and chose to go to trial. Miller and Search had been elected to the Sumter County Commission in 2020.
The final witness called by the prosecutor was Russell Suess, chief investigator for the state attorney’s office. Suess told the jury about the interview which laid the basis for the perjury charge. The prosecutor played the taped interview in which Miller was asked if there had been any conversations with Search. The prosecutor replayed the tape in her closing argument, so the jury could hear Miller, in his own voice, emphatically say “no” when asked if he made any calls to other commissioners after January.
Miller chose not to testify at trial.
The jury deliberated 23 minutes before returning the guilty verdict.