Washington (CNN) – Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer was arrested Wednesday and charged with six felony counts stemming from a grand jury investigation into his activities while serving as state party leader.
Greer, 47, faces one count of organized fraud, four counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering, Statewide Prosecutor Bill Shepherd announced at a late morning press conference. He faces up to 90 years in jail if convicted on all counts.
Greer is a political ally of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and contemplated running for chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2009.
Prosecutors charge that Greer steered $199,254 in state party money to a company, Victory Strategies, LLC, that he set up with former state Republican Party Executive Director Delmar Johnson. According to prosecutors, "Greer was paid $125,161" of the fees Victory Strategies collected from the state party. Prosecutors also said that Victory was given "a large amount for services that were never performed" by the company.
"The indictment and the affidavit allege that Mr. Greer developed a scheme to take money from the Republican Party of Florida through a shell company that he created called Victory Strategies," Shepherd said at the news conference. "He created that company to actively hide his own involvement."
According to Florida law enforcement officials, Victory Strategies received 10 percent of all major donations to the RPOF, as well as over $60,000 from GOP state party coffers at Greer's direction. And $40,000 more came from a 527 account designed to help Greer win re-election as state party chairman.
Prosecutors allege that a substantial amount of those funds then flowed directly to Greer.
Greer was appointed Florida GOP chairman in 2007 by Crist. But in February of this year, Greer left his post after a chorus of state Republican leaders and donors raised questions about his leadership and management of party funds.
Crist said news of Greer's arrest was "obviously disappointing and surprising," when asked about it Wednesday during a press conference about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I have faith in our judicial system," Crist said. "I know they will handle it appropriately."
According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, search warrants were executed Tuesday at Greer's home in Oviedo and two unspecified banking institutions. He was arrested at his home Wednesday morning in Oviedo, Florida and is currently being held at the John Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford. His bond has been set at $105,000.
Specifically, Greer is charged with three third-degree felonies, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years, a second-degree felony that carries a maximum of 15 years, as well as two first-degree felony counts that under Florida law carry a maximum sentence of 30 years each.
Questions about Greer were first raised last fall after grassroots leaders revolted against his management of the party – a movement that ultimately resulted in his resignation as chairman.
And in March, an independent annual audit of state GOP expenses revealed that the party "may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity on the part of one of its vendors, controlled by a senior-level official," Jim Thrasher, current chairman of the party, said in a statement at that time.
That vendor was Victory, the firm set up in February 2009 by Greer and Johnson.
Within the Republican National Committee, Greer became a prominent voice urging the GOP to open its arms to moderate voters and minorities. After considering running for RNC chair, Greer threw his support to Michael Steele, a key endorsement at the time in the contested race to head the GOP.
- CNN's Peter Hamby, Mark Preston and Matt Smith contributed to this report