Yearty, Parker trial delayed

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Suspended Levy County Commissioners W.S. “Sammy” Yearty and Robert Anthony “Tony” Parker have won a delay in their federal trial until June 1.

Yearty and Parker, who were indicted in October, but not arrested until the indictments were unsealed after the November 2008 general election, are accused of conspiring to accept bribes in return for votes and influencing their fellow commissioners votes. Yearty has also been indicted on an additional charge of perjury.

On Nov. 19, 2008, the indictment was “superseded” or amended to repeat the charges against Yearty and Parker, and added four perjury charges against Pamela Williams Blair, who had just resigned her position as executive director of the Levy County Enterprise Zone Development Agency.

Parker, Yearty and Blair were to be tried together on Dec. 8, 2008, but that was delayed until February 2009, and again until May 4.

In addition to the delay, Yearty’s attorney, former state Sen. Rod W. Smith, has filed papers to sever the two men’s trial from Blair’s.

Smith’s motion says while the Nov. 19 indictment repeats the original conspiracy, bribery and perjury charges in the Oct. 20 indictment, Blair’s charges are not linked to the original indictments allegations and the government is not seeking a forfeiture claim against Blair as it has done in the men’s case.

“Defendant Blair is not alleged to be either a co-conspirator with, accessory to, or to have aided or abetted any criminal conduct against Defendants Yearty and Parker,” the motion claims.

Smith said the Nov. 19 indictment does not tie Blair’s statements to the two men.

The Oct. 20 indictment of Yearty and Parker mentions a government agent known as “Sean Michaels”, but Blair’s indictment says her statements related to receiving monies from Sean Michaels on behalf of Gideon Development, a company not mentioned in the men’s indictment.

The only link is that “one or more government agents posed as ‘Sean Michaels’ and on separate occasions to people allegedly lied to the FBI about their past dealings with a person identifying himself as Michaels,” Smith’s filing says.

Smith’s filing says in Blair’s trial the government is likely to introduce evidence alleging she told “Michaels” she had access and influence with Yearty, and “statements purportedly made to the agent, such as Blair bragging that she knew Yearty liked ‘young women’ . . .”

Smith says Yearty will be forced to counter that by introducing evidence showing he tried to have Blair terminated from county employment and as a result had an antagonistic relationship with her.

This would create a prejudice in the jury mind or emotions that would diminish Yearty right to a fair trial, Smith says in the filing.

The original indictment charged that Yearty and Parker conspired with a man going by the name of Shawn Michaels to accept gift cards and a trip to New York City in December 2007 in return for “intending to be influenced or rewarded” for business coming before the Levy County Board of Commissioners. Yearty is charged with lying to the FBI regarding having received money for Michaels.

All three were released under a strict set of guidelines that including a curfew, prohibited using drugs or consuming alcohol in public and banned communicating with a sealed list of people.

Shortly after the original indictment Gov. Charlie Crist suspended the two men from office. Since then, Crist has named Marsha Drew of Yankeetown to an interim appointment to Yearty’s District 3 seat. The governor has not made an interim appointment to Parker’s seat, although he has interviewed several candidates for the job.