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2 Sumter County commissioners removed from office after perjury charges

Both men were arrested on Dec. 15 and charged with perjury.
Credit: AP | Sumter County Sheriff’s Office
This combo of booking photos released by the Sumter County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office shows Oren Miller, left, and Gary Search, two Sumter County commissioners who were suspended from office on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, several weeks after being arrested and charged with lying during an investigation of possible Sunshine Law violations.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — Two county commissioners in central Florida have been suspended from office, several weeks after being arrested and charged with lying during an investigation of possible Sunshine Law violations.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued two executive orders Thursday to remove Sumter County commissioners Oren Miller and Gary Search from their elected offices until their criminal cases are resolved, in accordance with state law. 

Miller and Search were arrested Dec. 15 and charged with perjury.

Prosecutors say phone records showed Miller and Search contacted each other directly over 40 times between November 2020, when they were both elected, and July 2021.

The Associated Press reports Miller told investigators the calls stopped sometime in January or February after "they realized the communication might be an issue" while Search said they had no contact outside public meetings, court documents show.

On the other hand, phone records show nearly half of the calls made between the two were made after January 2021, AP explains.

Arrest affidavits didn't say what the two men were discussing during the calls, but many of them were reportedly made just before or right after a scheduled county commission meeting, prosecutors explained.

AP says defense attorneys for both Miller and Search didn't respond to messages seeking comments.

10 Tampa Bay's Courtney Holland contributed to this report.

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