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Marion sheriff indicted on perjury charges

Sheriff Chris Blair booked into Marion County Jail Friday

OCALA, Fla. – Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair was booked in jail on Friday on charges of perjury and official misconduct, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Blair was indicted by the State Attorney's Office for the Fifth Judicial District on two counts of perjury in an official proceeding and one count of official misconduct.

[Scroll below to read full indictment]

Blair was booked into the Marion County Jail at 2:51 p.m. Friday and then posted his bond at 3:31 p.m., deputies said.

The indictment stems from Blair's testimony during the investigation into Dustin Heathman, who was the subject of a standoff in 2014. Deputies say Heathman fired at their SWAT officers and they fired back. Heathman was hit by glass fragments and surrendered.

According to the indictment, Blair knowingly falsely testified in regard to Heathman's arrest, saying that he didn't see Heathman's face or injuries he had.

"Chris Blair knew the statement was false because while Dustin Heathman was handcuffed, dressed in his underwear and escorted by two sheriff's deputies and with apparent injuries to his face, he was led in front of Chris Blair so close that Chris Blair had to step back to let Dustin Heathman and deputies pass by," the indictment stated.

Blair could face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines on three felony charges.

Blair was elected sheriff in November 2012 and was sworn into office in January 2013. 

Gov. Rick Scott suspended Blair from office and appointed the Attorney General’s Office Director of Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs Emery Gainey as the interim sheriff.

Marion County Commission Chairman Kathy Bryant released a statement:

“While we are disappointed to learn of the charges brought against Sheriff Chris Blair, we must not forget that many good men and women serve in the Marion County Sheriff’s Office with honor and dedication, and they will continue to serve and protect this community under the interim leadership of the governor’s appointee, Emery Gainey.

We are confident that this agency will rise above this difficult time, and we encourage all citizens of Marion County to embrace and support the hardworking men and women of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.”
 

Check back for more on this story.

Indictment by Melodi Smith

State of Florida Executive Order by Melodi Smith