Rep. Keith Perry Will Not Be Charged Over Campaign Sign Incident

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Updated: September 30, 9:25 a.m.

Based on a review of the incident between Rep. Keith Perry and a man who removed his campaign sign earlier this month, the allegations do not meet the standard for criminal prosecution, according to a memo issued by the office of the Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza.

The alleged victim does not want to pursue the case, the memo said.

Updated: September 29, 4:59 p.m.

An attorney filed a “no information” after reviewing the incident with Rep. Keith Perry and a man who removed his campaign sign earlier in September. This decision means Perry will not face a criminal case as officials considered case evidence to be not sufficient for a criminal charge.

Perry’s representative Erin Isaac quoted him as saying: “I never believed the case warranted criminal charges, though I do wish I had done more to diffuse the situation. Having said that, GPD never should’ve ever taken this to the State Attorney. The whole thing, in my opinion, was politically motivated.”

Rep. Keith Perry held a press conference Thursday, clarifying the circumstances surrounding his Saturday altercation with a man removing his campaign sign.

“This is not a good experience for anybody,” Perry said. “It’s been a distraction for the campaign as well.”

Perry said he wants to “move on and start focusing on other issues.” “There are real issues that we need to address,” he said.

A video released Wednesday by the Gainesville Police Department shed more light on the incident.

(Courtesy of Gainesville Police Department)
(Courtesy of Gainesville Police Department)

(Courtesy of Gainesville Police Department)

Perry saw Norman Leppla taking down the sign, then argued with him, saying he had permission to put the sign there, and he wanted it kept up, according to the police report.

Perry and the victim put the sign back up together, but the victim stated Perry was “rude,” so he took the sign back down.

Perry and the man can be seen in a confrontation above, and the man points at the camera at the end, showing Perry the incident is being filmed. The man chest-bumps Perry first, and Perry later strikes the man in the throat.

GPD arrived to file the report, but were not able to locate or contact Perry. He said Thursday that a GPD officer never contacted him for his side. Police have recommended to the state attorney’s office that charges be pressed, although GPD also told the state attorney’s office on Thursday that Leppla withdrew his complaint.

“On 9/15/16, Mr. Norman Robert Leppla responded to the Gainesville Police Department lobby to complete a Complaint Withdrawal Affidavit in the case involving Keith Perry,” spokesman Ben Tobias wrote in an email. “Since GPD has already forwarded a Sworn Complaint to the State Attorney’s Office, we will be forwarding this Complaint Withdrawal to them as well.  It will be up to the State Attorney to determine how the case proceeds at this point, since procedurally the case still remains with them.

Meanwhile, at the victim’s home, two Keith Perry State Senate campaign signs are posted again.

About Virginia Annable

Virginia is a reporter for WUFT News.

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