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Former Sebastian City Council members sentenced for violating Florida's Sunshine Law, perjury

Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris convicted in May
Pamela Parris and Damien Gilliams
Posted at 11:35 AM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 11:48:40-04

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — Two former Sebastian City Council members, who were found guilty of violating Florida's Sunshine Law earlier this year, were sentenced Tuesday.

Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris were convicted in May by a six-member jury.

Gilliams and Parris were removed from office after a special election last fall.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Linn ruled Tuesday that Gilliams serve six months in jail and Parris serve 90 days.

Both Gilliams and Parris were also ordered to pay more than $26,000 in restitution to the city of Sebastian and other court costs.

The former City Council members were accused of holding an illegal meeting during which they voted to remove Mayor Ed Dodd and fire the city manager, city clerk and city attorney.

Florida law requires that all meetings of any state, county or municipal board or commission be open to the public.

After the city's April 22, 2020, public meeting was postponed, Gilliams, Parris and Charles Mauti used their own keys to get inside the locked City Hall building to hold their own meeting.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Linn in court on Sept. 14, 2021
Judge Michael Linn was in court on Sept. 14, 2021, to sentence the former Sebastian City Council members.

"What occurred, as far as the Sunshine Law violation that happened that day, that's probably one of the most egregious ways you could violate Sunshine Law," Linn said. "You all took a meeting, and instead of doing anything to help the people of Sebastian, you removed people. And you knew what you were doing was wrong because when the police showed up, you all ran out of the building."

Gilliams and Parris were given an appellate bond, which they both intended to pay after they were booked Tuesday.

This means they get to wait until an appeals court reviews the case before serving any jail time.

The prosecutor in the case said it could take at least a year for the case to be reviewed and for Gilliams and Parris to serve their sentences.