ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - There will be three candidates eligible to assume the helm of Orange County sheriff after a circuit court judge denied an emergency motion to disqualify Democratic candidate Darryl Sheppard “without prejudice.”
Judge Renee Roache reviewed arguments Monday that Sheppard should be disqualified after presenting two bad checks before presenting a cashier’s check for the full amount of $10,000 that cleared.
Sheppard, the lone Democrat in the race for Orange County sheriff, has argued the funds were available when the first of two certified checks was presented to the County Office of Elections.
When told of the decision, Sheppard wrote, in part: “The judge clearly did the right thing. Shame on John Mina for putting him up to this stunt, and I call on John Mina to return the $1,000 donated to his campaign from Mr. Lufti.”
Said Lufti’s Winter Park-based attorney, Stuart Buchanan, denies any political motivation or ties to either candidate.
Lufti told News 6 he supports both former Florida Highway Patrol Major Joe Lopez and outgoing Orlando police Chief John Mina.
The attorneys who filed the emergency motion argued Sheppard “clearly failed” to meet qualifying requirements by submitting two bad checks to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office before finally providing a viable cashier’s check minutes before a 48-hour extension.
The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 1, named Sheppard and Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles as co-defendants.
An attorney for Lufti told News 6 that Sheppard has been avoiding process servers for several weeks, prompting the law firm to hire private detectives to find him.
“The process server has not been able to find him,” Buchanan told News 6. “They (private detectives) are looking at every known address that he has listed on his campaign report.”
Sheppard was never served.
Sheppard told News 6 the lawsuit was a desperate move to get him off the ballot.
“I think the campaigns are threatened, so I wasn't surprised,” he said.
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