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Judge Greco to cut short his tenure

He earns about $130,000 but stands to make much more in private law practice.

By DAVID KARP

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2001


He earns about $130,000 but stands to make much more in private law practice.

TAMPA -- With about five years left on his term in office, Circuit Judge Dick Greco Jr. unexpectedly told the governor Tuesday he would resign at the end of the year.

He decided to step down to make more money in private practice.

"My motivation is financial," said Greco, who earns about $130,000 annually as a circuit judge.

Greco will join the law firm of Morgan, Colling & Gilbert as a personal injury attorney.

The law firm, based in Tampa, is known for its television advertising and its slogan, "Morgan, Colling & Gilbert: For the People."

Greco would not say how much he will earn in private practice. But, depending on the kinds of cases and clients he attracts to the firm, he has the potential to make far more than his current salary.

"I thought it was a great opportunity for me and my family," Greco said.

Greco, 47, married for the third time in July 2000; he has a 9-year-old son from a previous marriage. Last year, he listed his net worth in a financial disclosure form at $100,000.

It won't be the first time that someone in Greco's family left public service to earn more money in the private sector. Greco's father, Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, stepped down as mayor in 1974 in the middle of his second term to take a higher-paying job with the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp.

"I think I will miss serving," said Greco.

Greco was first elected a county judge in 1990, then was appointed to the circuit bench in 1994. He was re-elected without opposition in 1994 and 2000.

Gov. Jeb Bush will appoint Greco's replacement from a list of finalists selected by the local Judicial Nominating Commission.

Lawyers in the courthouse saw few signs that Greco wanted to leave the bench. Earlier this year, he applied unsuccessfully for an opening on the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Unlike two other judges who resigned last year amid misconduct investigations, there was no hint of controversy attached to Greco's resignation Tuesday.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission investigated a complaint this year about comments Greco made at a employee recognition banquet, but the JQC found no probable cause that Greco did anything wrong.

"It's a wonderful job," Greco said. "It's been an honor serving."

-- Staff writer David Karp can be reached at 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com.

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