Dr. Alan Mendelsohn Case
Ex-state GOP official questioned in Alan Mendelsohn case
A federal grand jury heard testimony from the former executive director of the Florida GOP as part of the investigation into a Broward eye doctor.
BY JON BURSTEIN
A former executive director of the Florida Republican Party spent more than an hour testifying Tuesday before a federal grand jury in the criminal investigation centering on Broward political operator Dr. Alan Mendelsohn.
Jim Rimes, who once was deputy chief of staff for Gov. Charlie Crist, told the Sun Sentinel that he was ``just a fact witness.'' He declined to elaborate on what he meant or to discuss what prosecutors asked him about, other than to acknowledge that it involved Mendelsohn.
Rimes went before the grand jury without an attorney. Two federal prosecutors thanked him after he left the grand jury room.
Mendelsohn, the former chief fundraiser for the Florida Medical Association, is accused of siphoning more than $350,000 from political action committees for his own benefit, including buying his mistress a house and bankrolling his children's education.
A Hollywood eye doctor, Mendelsohn has pleaded not guilty to a 32-count federal indictment charging him with fraud and lying to federal agents.
Mendelsohn, 51, is set to go to trial in January 2011.
Rimes' appearance before the grand jury is yet another indication that federal prosecutors are far from done with Mendelsohn's case.
They told a federal judge last month that they hope to file criminal tax charges against the physician in the coming weeks.
In addition, an unnamed former public official is accused in Mendelsohn's indictment of taking $87,000 from him between 2003 and 2006.
Rimes, who served as the state Republican Party's executive director from May 2007 to January 2009, has been in the news in the past week after the party publicly released its credit card records for ousted chairman Jim Greer's three-year tenure. The party racked up more than $7 million of charges during that time.
Rimes charged more than $2.12 million on his party credit card, the records show. His card was used to book party expenses, such as $100,000 blocks of rooms at the Rosen Shingle Resort in Orlando, where the party had its quarterly meetings.
Most charges on his card were for party expenses such as car rentals, airfare and hotel stays in Florida and across the country for Republican officials.
The card also was used to fly Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, his family and staff to Minnesota for the Republican National Convention.
There is no apparent connection between Rimes' credit card charges and the Mendelsohn investigation.
Miami Herald staff writer Josh Hafenbrack contributed to this report.