In a significant development, 19th Circuit Court Judge Robert Meadows revoked the bond for Damien Gilliams, a former member of the Sebastian City Council, and ordered him to begin serving his 45-day jail sentence for violations of the Sunshine Law committed during his time in office. Gilliams is petitioning for his case to be presented before the Supreme Court.
Jail records show Gilliams is scheduled to be released on July 8, 2023.
Pamela Parris, who was implicated alongside Gilliams, remains out on bond, and no jail report order has been issued for her at this time. Gilliams and Parris were initially charged with Sunshine Law violations and perjury last April. While the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld these violations, one perjury charge was reversed for both.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals explained that the scenario in question was alarming in this case. In its opinion, the court said that three elected Sebastian City Council members were discovered engaging in private discussions about governmental matters. The court underscored the fact that the Florida Sunshine Law is universally binding, affecting everyone irrespective of their rank or electoral standing.
In addition to the jail term, Gilliams was ordered to pay $2,500 in fines, $26,098.50 in restitution, and $343 in court costs. Despite the charges, Gilliams, the owner of Sebastian’s No Name Bar, maintains his innocence.
Gilliams was elected in November 2019 and removed from office during a recall where Sebastian residents voted him out ten months later on September 15, 2020.
A council meeting on April 24, 2020, was postponed by City Manager Paul Carlisle due to COVID-19 concerns expressed by over a thousand residents. Despite the postponement, Councilmembers Charles Mauti, Damien Gilliams, and Pamela Parris convened a meeting in the dark city hall chambers, during which Gilliams was appointed Mayor. 19th Circuit Court Judge Janet Croom later invalidated this appointment, deeming the meeting as “null and void.”
Mauti assisted in the investigation, furnishing proof for the prosecution and settling a fine.
On May 27, 2021, Gilliams and Parris were taken to court, where a jury found them guilty of perjury and breaching the Sunshine Law. Their sentencing was carried out by Judge Michael Linn of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court on September 14, 2021.
Notably, Sebastian is the only city in the US to have recalled a majority of its city council members.
Sebastian Daily will keep you updated on any subsequent developments.