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Lawyer-Lawmaker Celebrates Conviction Reversal

Posted Jan 4, 2008 2:49 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A Florida lawyer/lawmaker celebrated a state appeals court ruling that overturned his 2006 conviction for grand theft.

Surrounded by supporters, state Sen. Gary Siplin spoke to reporters Monday, saying he felt "refreshed, re-energized and ready," the Orlando Sentinel reports.

"Glory, sweet glory be to God," Siplin is quoted saying. "The court ruled that state Senator Gary Siplin did not take one red cent from the state of Florida and that state Senator Gary Siplin did not deceive one red cent from anybody."

Prosecutors alleged Siplin misused state tax dollars because he knew a staffer was working on his 2004 re-election campaign, costing taxpayers more than $9,000. Jurors agreed and found Siplin guilty.

But the state appellate court, in a ruling (PDF) released Dec. 28, that the evidence was circumstantial.

The court threw out the felony conviction, but will allow the misdemeanor charges to be retried if prosecutors so choose.

Even though state law allows lawmakers to be removed from office if they are convicted of a felony, the Sentinel reports that the state Senate's legal counsel reasoned that Siplin could remain in office until he had exhausted his appeals.

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