TC Palm by Andrew Atterbury
January 5, 2018
The county public-records scandal expanded Thursday when a grand jury indicted two of the three current and former county commissioners who already are facing charges in the case.
Commissioner Sarah Heard was charged with failure of a public official to permit inspection and copying of public records and with failure to maintain public records, according to the State Attorney’s Office.
Heard previously was charged, on Nov. 28, with a noncriminal public-records violation.
Former Commissioner Anne Scott, meanwhile, was charged with failure to deliver public records to a successor and with failure to deliver public records within 10 days after demand.
Thursday’s charges against Heard and Scott are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum one year in jail and $1,000 fine, according to the State Attorney’s Office. They also can be grounds for removal from office or impeachment, according to state law.
Heard and Scott turned themselves in to the Martin County Jail on Thursday after warrants were issued for their arrests, according to the Sheriff’s Office. They were released on their own recognizance.
Scott could not be reached for comment Friday.
Heard’s attorney, Barbara Kibbey Wagner, said in a statement Friday her client is a victim of land developers and big business, targeting her for her staunch advocacy of the environment.
Thursday’s indictment came as no surprise, and Heard looks forward to a full vindication after a jury trial, Wagner wrote.
“We feel that this indictment was purely an act of retaliation after Commissioner Heard refused to plead guilty and resign from office for the noncriminal citation — a charge that she was given no evidence or facts from the State Attorney’s Office,” Wagner wrote.
The State Attorney’s Office has been investigating Heard, Scott and Commissioner Ed Fielding since April over possible public-records violations surrounding the county’s long-running civil lawsuit with Lake Point Restoration rock quarry. [READ MORE]