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Charges dropped against two former Martin County commissioners

Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 04:29:55-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Criminal charges have been dropped against two former Martin County Commissioners accused of public records violations.

“There is quite a bit of relief. Now, I don’t have to go home and read more papers at night," said Ed Fielding Monday.

Fielding will no longer stand trial, 21 months after a grand jury indictment determined he and two other commissioners had allegedly violated public records laws.
Fielding’s attorney says his client was unfairly singled out.

“Not only is there a huge sense of relief, there’s also a huge letdown as we had prepared for hundreds of hours," said attorney Joshua Deckard.

Prosecutors released a memo outlining why they decided to drop the cases against the former commissioners. Among the reasons, what happened during the one trial that took place involving a sitting commissioner.

Sarah Heard was found not guilty in April on similar charges. It took a jury only 30 minutes to reach that verdict.

In the memo, the state says rulings regarding evidence in Heard's case convinced prosecutors they didn’t think they would be able to prove the cases against Fielding and former commissioner Anne Scott beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.

For example, the jury would not know that Martin County admitted to public records violations in a civil suit filed by Lake Point Restoration in 2013.

The company operates a rock quarry and had also sued the county for breach of contract. Prosecutors said they were also prohibited from presenting any evidence that the actions of the co-defendants cost Martin County taxpayers $12 million as part of a 2017 settlement with Lake Point for interfering with their operation.

Fielding says he’s always tried to live a life of integrity and now he can move on.

“Thinking about Lake Point or thinking about the state attorney yeah.”

Fielding and his attorney plan to ask the county for payment of their legal fees.

The county clerk is currently reviewing a $450,000 request from Sarah Heard’s attorneys for their fees.