Osceola County Clerk of the Court being investigated by FDLE



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9's Kathi Belich has learned that the embattled Osceola County Clerk of Court is under criminal investigation.

A supporter told Belich that he told state agents on Thursday that Clerk of the Court Armando Ramirez promised him a job when he gave Ramirez a campaign contribution during last year's election campaign.

Richard Martin said he met with Ramirez about jobs twice. Martin said that both times he donated money to Ramirez's election campaign.

Martin said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement offered him immunity and questioned him Thursday morning for two hours about his $500 donation, the two meetings he said he had with Ramirez before the election, and about jobs and his allegation that Ramirez offered to put him in charge of diversity at the clerk's office.

Martin told Belich that he's known Ramirez for years and believed Ramirez would be a good Osceola clerk of the court. But he admitted that he was also hoping to work for Ramirez if he was elected. He said that was part of the reason he contributed to Ramirez's campaign.

Martin said he had two meetings with Ramirez and both times they talked about what job he might get after the election.

He said one time he donated $300 and the next time he donated $200 to Ramirez's campaign.

According to Martin, Ramirez was really in need of campaign funds because no one was donating. Election records show that Ramirez was his own greatest contributor.

Martin never did get a job once Ramirez was elected. He told Belich that Ramirez is "a disgrace."

Arthur "Beau" Osborne, who Ramirez hired as his chief of staff before firing him, told Belich on Thursday that he was questioned by FDLE last week about possible connections between Martin's campaign contributions and any job offers Ramirez might have made to Martin.

Osborne said he told FDLE agents everything he knows about the situation.

Osborne told Belich that after Ramirez was elected, Ramirez told Osborne to string Martin along when Martin called about being hired.

Friday's developments just add to the controversy already surrounding Ramirez.

He was recently scrutinized for firing Osborne and then hiring and later promoting his son's girlfriend, Jennifer Soto, to the position.

Last month, former clerk of courts Malcolm Thompson filed a lawsuit against Ramirez and his office asking that Thompson be reimbursed the $55,000 he spent to defend himself in a criminal case in which he was acquitted.

Ramirez called the allegations “preposterous.”