By JEFFREY POWELL
“The State Attorney has filed new charges on the same complaint. That complaint is based on hearsay information that is false,” said suspended South Walton County Mosquito Control District (SWCMCD) Commissioner Charlie Burke. “This [complaint] was never sworn to by the person making the complaint because he was a lawyer and knew it was false. I have said from the beginning that these charges are politically motivated.”
The latest development in the Burke case occurred on May 1, during a scheduled docket date. Burke’s case would have gone to trial on May 5, but for the new charge.
Burke was already charged with violating Florida Statute 104.011 (1). That charge basically stems from what the state believes was a false statement concerning Burke’s legal residence. Burke is required to be a Walton County resident to hold the position of SWCMCD commissioner. The state apparently has reason to believe he resides in Bay County.
The new charge, under the same code, contends Burke also submitted false voter registration information on or about June 21, 2007.
‘Mr. Burke will receive a new arraignment on the amended information,” said Assistant State Attorney Greg Anchors. “We will go forward with the case from there.”
Burke was originally arrested on Dec. 4, 2007, just prior to a SWCMCD regular meeting, by Investigator Brad Trusty of the States Attorney’s office. On Dec. 13 Governor Charlie Crist suspended the commissioner pending the outcome of the charges.
“The States Attorney’s Office has made an offer to drop the charges if I resign as a Commissioner of the SWCMCD. I will not resign and will continue to represent the taxpaying voters of south Walton,” insisted Burke. “I was the deciding vote to reduce taxes 20 percent in my district. I also voted to remove the overpaid director. These charges are a repercussion of these votes and the voters in my district know this.”
Burke”s next court appearance is on May 13, when he will be arraigned on the new charges.