Spence-Jones Not Guilty of Bribery

Spence-Jones acquitted on two bribery counts

By Todd Wright
|  Thursday, Mar 17, 2011  |  Updated 6:30 AM EDT
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Suspended Miami City Commissioner is acquitted of bribery.

Suspended Miami City Commissioner is acquitted of bribery.

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Developer Takes Stand in Spence-Jones Case

The bribery case of former Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones took a dramatic turn in court Tuesday, when the prominent developer accused of buying her off took the witness stand and dropped a bombshell on the prosecution's case.

Spence-Jones Indicted

Suspended Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was indicted by a grand jury on bribery charges.
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Suspended Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones has been found not guilty of grand theft and bribery charges.

It took a jury about an hour Wednesday to render a verdict in the case, which became a disaster for state prosecutors almost from the outset.

Spence-Jones was District 5 commissioner when she was arrested for allegedly forcing a developer to give $25,000 to a charity in exchange for her support on a hotel project in 2006.

The developer in the case, Armando Codina, was supposed to help bolster the state's case with his testimony, but he testified that Spence-Jones never offered her support for the project.

That crippled the state's theory so much that the judge almost acquitted Spence-Jones before the case was given to the jury.

Spence-Jones was suspended from office twice by former Gov. Charlie Crist because of the corruption allegations.

She was initially suspended for the arrest, but ran in a special election and was overwhelmingly chosen by voters to return to her post.

Crist was forced to boot her again. The Rev. Richard Dunn has taken Spence-Jones' place on the commission.

Now it's unclear if the charismatic leader will try to get back into office.

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