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Candidate halts report's release

The grand jury report on a case involving Port Richey mayoral hopeful Bob Leggiere stays sealed as voters go to the polls today.

By CARY DAVIS AND MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2001


PORT RICHEY -- Port Richey mayoral candidate Bob Leggiere is challenging a grand jury report that comments on his past conduct in office. That means the report's contents will remain sealed as voters go to the polls today.

Leggiere's attorney filed a motion late Friday seeking to seal permanently the grand jury report, which names Leggiere as a target of an investigation into allegations of improper meddling in the affairs of Port Richey's building department.

The grand jury did not hand up any criminal indictments when it concluded its work on March 22, choosing instead to issue a seven-page presentment commenting on the testimony and evidence presented during two days of secret proceedings.

As required by law, Circuit Judge William Webb ordered the presentment sealed temporarily to give those named in it 15 days to either waive release of the report or file a motion to have it repressed.

Leggiere's objection was the only one filed by the Monday deadline.

Leggiere said he hadn't read the motion that his attorney Amy Cohen had filed and was relying on her judgment.

"I have no idea what they are doing," Leggiere told the Times on Monday. "I have no statement to make."

His opponent in the race, current Mayor Eloise Taylor, said she was disappointed that the report won't be public before the election.

"No matter what it says, the voters need to know," she said Monday. "Certainly before they go to the polls to elect the next mayor of Port Richey."

Leggiere, a twice-elected council member who served as acting mayor last summer before his defeat by Taylor, has said the contents of the grand jury's presentment already have been reported in the Times.

Leggiere's motion objecting to the release of the grand jury's findings will be argued at a hearing before Webb. A date for the hearing has not been set.

The one-page motion challenges the legality of the presentment and the makeup of the grand jury. It says that the presentment contains "unlawful and improper" statements and that the grand jury was selected illegally.

It also says that the individual members of the panel aren't qualified and that each has a "state of mind that will prevent him or her from acting impartially and without prejudice." The motion does not elaborate on the alleged problems with the presentment or the grand jury.

Cohen was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

The grand jury's inquiry stemmed from an investigation by Port Richey police into allegations that Leggiere interfered with several building department officials, causing three of them to quit.

Leggiere has said all along that he did nothing wrong and was acting because of citizen complaints.

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