ORLANDO, Fla. -

The former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida pleads guilty to theft and money laundering charges.

Jim Greer pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of theft and a charge of money laundering, which was amended to a third-degree felony.

He was accused of channeling more than $200,000 of party money to his company.

Greer faces up to five years in prison on three theft counts and the money laundering charge.  He faces up to 15 years for one count of second-degree felony theft.

Greer's trial had been scheduled to begin Monday and was expected to include testimony about questionable behavior and intraparty strife that will make both GOP leaders and rank-and-file members cringe.

The Republican Party of Florida issued a statement Monday, saying over the least three years Greer had try to damage the party and its leaders.

"... the truth is now known that Jim Greer broke the law, stole from RPOF and our donors, and then said and did everything he could to cover up and distract attention from his crimes. Everything Jim Greer has said and done over these past few years should be considered in that light," the statement said.

Greer, who was released on his own recognizance, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 27.

If Greer would have went to trial, a former governor and legislative leaders would have been featured, who Greer's attorney says spent party money with abandon.

"You have an awful lot of people who did not want the trial to go forward and I think that the trial's not going to go forward," said Damon Chase, Greer's attorney. "Once again, Jim Greer, has fallen on his sword for his, for a lot of other folks."

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