FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – On the same day that South Florida clergy and community leaders came to defend Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, his attorneys motioned to dismiss the perjury charges against him.
Runcie was arrested Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Broward Sheriff’s Office
Robert Runcie, 59, was admitted to Broward County Main Prison on April 21, 2021.
According to the indictment, during a grand jury investigation, Runcie made a “false testimony” under oath regarding possible fraud in school safety initiatives and whether the post-2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
In a motion filed in Broward County District Court on Friday, attorneys Michael E. Dutko Sr., Jeremy Kroll, and Johnny McCray Jr. are demanding that a judge drop perjury charges unless the state can specify what Runcie reportedly said it has grand jury that led to his indictment.
Runcie’s attorneys contend that the indictment “contains no specificity as to which statement is attributed to Mr. Runcie on which the allegation is based”.
They said the charges are so vague that they “do not even state exactly in which of the two days Mr. Runcie’s testimony is to be made”.
During a press conference outside the school district earlier in the day, dozens of politicians, believers and business leaders gathered to pledge their support for Runcie. Those in attendance included Senator Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, former Broward County Mayor and current Commissioner Dale Holness, who are both candidates for the seat of the late Alcee Hastings in Congress, and Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar.
State Senator Perry Thurston, other community leaders “pledge 100% support” for Robert Runcie
Thurston said they “pledge 100% support for Runcie”.
“And we’re asking the entire Broward community to do the same,” he said.
Thurston called Runcie an “honorable, brilliant black man of the highest character”.
“It should come as no surprise to anyone that these allegations originated in Tallahassee in an action by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is controlled by Governor Ron DeSantis,” Thurston said.
State Senator Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, defends Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie during a press conference outside school district headquarters on April 23, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Thurston went on to say that DeSantis “made his disdain for Mr. Runcie clear”.
“He was not concerned about his desire to remove him and his supporters,” Thurston said. “He did everything to split our church here in Broward County.”
Thurston, a longtime attorney in Fort Lauderdale, echoed the motion’s views, saying that in his 30 years as a lawyer he had never “seen allegations as vague, conclusive as those contained in this indictment.”
“You know, if we were in a banana republic and you had a secret jury and you made ambiguous allegations, we’d understand,” Thurston said. “But this is not a banana republic.”
Runcie’s supporters denounced the governor and extolled the district’s academic achievements under the superintendent’s tenure.
“Ron DeSantis is the undisputed co-leader of this witch hunt against Mr. Runcie,” said Thurston.
Broward County School Board’s Advocate General Barbara Myrick was also arrested. She is charged with unlawful disclosure of grand jury proceedings across the state.
Runcie’s attorneys said Thursday that he plans to plead not guilty.