After further review of its case against former Okaloosa County Commissioner James Campbell, the state attorney’s office has added eight new criminal charges.
Campbell, who was arrested Sept. 17, 2012, on four counts of official misconduct and four counts of perjury, now faces eight counts of misconduct in office and eight counts of filing a false financial affidavit.
“It is the same charges, just filed a little differently,” State Attorney Bill Eddins said. “We just went back a little further, looked at it and decided these were the correct formal charges that needed to be filed.”
The misconduct charges are felonies. Filing false financial affidavits are misdemeanors.
The charges stem from Campbell “failing to report income he got for work he did to generate sponsorships” for the city of Niceville’s Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival, Eddins said.
Campbell said Thursday the charges “are not new.”
“It’s the same thing. They just went back to 2004,” he said. “I’m still innocent, period.”
Campbell said he still hopes to avoid a trial.
“I’d rather see this be resolved right now,” he said. “I’m ready to retire and move on with my life.”
He said the past five months have been difficult for him and his family.
“You find out who your friends are. People have been very supportive and I deeply appreciate that.”
Campbell is scheduled to be in court again Feb. 21 for a docket day. His trial is scheduled for March 4.
Eddins said Thursday that Don Dewrell, Campbell’s attorney, has not requested that the case be continued.
Dewrell did not return a phone call seeking comment.
For more than a decade as Niceville’s director of parks and recreation, Campbell received a 20 percent commission for each sponsorship he secured for the Mullet Festival.
As a county commissioner he was obligated to report any income over $1,000 to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
The original charges stated Campbell failed to report payments he received from the Mullet Festival’s coordinating committee in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Charging documents released Thursday indicate Campbell failed to properly disclose income he received each year from the time he was elected to the County Commission in 2004 through 2012.
Campbell continues to stand by his explanation that his wife filled out his financial disclosure forms each year and he simply signed them. He said he had not disclosed the festival commissions because that was money he would use for personal hunting expenses.
The documents also state that Campbell’s failure as a public official to accurately report his income was taken “with corrupt intent to obtain a benefit.”
Documents released Thursday were not as specific in outlining the charges against Campbell as those released in September. He was not taken into custody Wednesday after the charges were amended.
The original arrest report stated at least two sponsorships Campbell received money for came from county agencies when he was on the County Commission.
The Tourist Development Council, under former director Mark Bellinger, bought a $10,000 sponsorship in 2010 with BP oil spill grant money.
Campbell also received a significant sponsorship donation from Northwest Florida Regional Airport and took home a commission for doing so, the original arrest report said.
Okaloosa County sheriff's investigators looking into Bellinger’s misuse of county bed tax and BP funds uncovered evidence against Campbell, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The FDLE and state attorney’s office worked together to follow up on the sheriff's office’s findings.
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