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Former Florida Republican Party chairman pleads to theft, money laundering

Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering just before jury selection in his criminal trial got under way.

Jury selection was set to begin Monday, but neither Greer nor prosecutors appeared in the courtroom. The only sign of Greer's presence in the Orange County Courthouse were his wife and infant daughter.

Greer had earlier pleaded not guilty to allegations that he funneled almost $200,000 of party money into a company he had formed with his right-hand man.

Greer says party leaders were aware of the company and that his prosecution is political payback. Sentencing is March 27 and he faces up to 35 years in prison.