Ex-Commissioner Fernandez's defense argues over evidence in her trial



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.,None - Suspended former Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez sat quietly in court on Thursday as lawyers argued over the evidence that will be presented at her trial. Fernandez is facing charges of charges of grand theft, racketeering, bribery and taking illegal campaign contributions.

Her attorney wants to call some high-ranking local politicians to the stand.

Those politicians could be called to testify about how they raise campaign money.

Prosecutors said she took more than she's allowed legally from individual campaign donors.

Fernandez was all smiles as she left the courthouse on Thursday and said she's not nervous about the possibility of being convicted at her trial next month.

"Very confident. I have the best lawyer in the state of Florida," said Fernandez.

In court, she sat with the public instead of at the defense table. Her defense did a dry run of its argument that the cash contributions she accepted were bundled together, therefore they appeared to be over the legal limit of $50 per person, but were not.  

Defense attorney Tony Suarez said a worker for former county mayor candidate Linda Stewart, who's now running for state senate, did the same thing.

"He was a bundler for Linda Stewart. [He] raised more than $7,000 and handed it to Linda Stewart," said Suarez.

Stewart told WFTV on Thursday she did not take more than $50 cash from any one person and her records prove it.

Prosecutor Steve Foster argued that what Fernandez did was illegal and it was not bundling.

"He gave her $1,000 in cash from one person. That wasn't bundling," said Foster.

The defense said it plans to call high-ranking elected officials to testify about bundling, but wouldn't give names.

"There will be high-profile folks, yes," said Suarez.

The defense said it will try again to get the charges against Fernandez dropped.