Escambia unloads tainted purchase©Associated Press
February 12, 2003
PENSACOLA -- Escambia County commissioners sold a soccer complex for nearly $1-million less than the $3.9-million their suspended predecessors paid for it.
The 2001 purchase of the property prompted an investigation that resulted in the indictment of four of the five then-sitting commissioners, including former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers.
The current commission voted 3-2 Monday to sell the complex for $2.92-million to a group of local investors and probably will be used for commercial development, lawyer Philips Bates said. "It's a group of people who feel it prudent right now not to be revealed," he said.
Childers is facing trial March 31 on bribery and money laundering charges. He is accused of paying another suspended commissioner, Willie Junior, to vote for the complex's purchase. Junior pleaded no contest last year to 10 felonies, including bribery, racketeering and grand theft, and is slated to testify against Childers. However, he was hospitalized last week with an undisclosed illness.
A couple who sold the soccer complex to the county also were indicted on bribery-related charges. The husband has been acquitted and the wife's trial is pending.
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