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UPDATE: Trial for suspended fire commissioner continued for fourth time

Anderson failed to appear for first day due to medical issue

October 26, 2017
By TIFFANY REPECKI (trepecki@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

UPDATE:

The trial for a suspended Lehigh Acres fire commissioner was again continued today.

The defense attorney for Robert John Anderson, 51, of 1147 Cherokee Ave., provided the court with medical documentation of an ongoing health issue that Anderson is reportedly receiving treatment for.

Article Photos

Robert John Anderson

His trial was set to start Oct. 25, but Anderson did not show up for the first day as he was hospitalized at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

The court ordered for Anderson to be present today for the trial or provide documentation as to why he was not in court. If Anderson failed to do either, the judge was set to order a bench warrant.

Assistant Public Defender Travis Cary is representing Anderson.

He declined to comment today on the case and Anderson's medical situation, citing that he is not permitted by office policy.

As of today, Anderson is listed in good condition at the hospital, according to Lee Health officials.

The case has been continued to Nov. 27.

Cary estimated that the trial would take three to four days.

.....

ORIGINAL (Oct. 25, 2017):

A suspended Lehigh Acres fire commissioner did not show up for his first day of court.

A felony case against Robert John Anderson, 51, of 1147 Cherokee Ave., was set to start today in the Lee County Courts with jury selection. The trial has already been continued three times this year.

"The trial did not start today. The defendant did not come to court," State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said. "The defense presented some information why."

She said she could not provide any further clarification.

"Since we are about to go to trial," Syoen said.

According to court records, Anderson was not present today for a medical issue.

He is currently listed in fair condition at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

The court has ordered for him to be present Oct. 26 for the trial. If he is not, he must provide documentation as to why he is not in court. If Anderson fails to appear Oct. 26 for trial and fails to provide the required documentation, then a bench warrant will be processed, the records state.

"The next step is with the judge," Syoen said.

Assistant Public Defender Travis Cary is representing Anderson.

He did not return a message seeking comment on the case.

A message left for Anderson also went unreturned.

Anderson was charged in August 2016 for reportedly stealing riding lawn mowers from a Habitat for Humanity in North Fort Myers. The equipment had been donated to it by the Lehigh fire district.

He is facing one count of larceny grand theft $300 less than $5,000.

According to officials, the charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.

In June, Anderson was charged in an unrelated incident with larceny grand theft $300 less than $5,000 and fraud swindle obtain property under $20,000. He is accused of fraudulently obtaining nearly $2,600 from a business that he provided technical support to and using the money to pay personal bills.

Anderson has pleaded not guilty to the charges in both cases.

On July 26, Gov. Rick Scott suspended Anderson from his seat on the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District's board. Anderson had won his seat on the fire board while facing the 2016 charge.

Florida law states that an official who has been suspended may not perform any official act, duty or function, nor receive any pay or allowance, nor be entitled to any emoluments or privileges.

If the official is convicted of the charge, the governor will remove him or her from office and the person appointed to the temporary vacancy shall serve out the remainder of the term, according to the law. If an official pleads guilty or no contest, he or she will be considered convicted of the charge.

In the case that the official is acquitted, found not guilty or otherwise cleared of the charge, the governor will revoke the suspension and restore the official to his or her office, the law states.

For the 2017 case, a case management conference has been set for Nov. 16.

 
 

 

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