The criminal trial involving former Sebastian City Council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris is set to begin next week. Sebastian residents hope justice will be served.
On Monday, May 17, 2021, the court will finish jury selection. Testimony involving the case is set to begin on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
Gilliams and Parris were arrested on June 17, 2020, after a warrant was issued for Sunshine Law violations and perjury charges. The alleged crimes stem from a meeting that occurred on April 22, 2020, in what prosecutors say was “illegal.”
A regular scheduled City Council meeting was scheduled for that day, but City Manager Paul Carlisle canceled it after feedback from thousands of residents. Sebastian residents wanted the meeting canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
However, Gilliams and Parris, along with Vice Mayor Charles Mauti, had a meeting without Mayor Dodd, Council member Jim Hill, and the charter officers. The meeting was recorded with minimal lighting and the doors locked.
Citizens called the meeting without city staff and charter officers an illegal coup. They believe the 2 councilmembers and vice mayor tried to take over the City of Sebastian by appointing Gilliams as the new mayor and a plan to fire city staff.
Two days later, Gilliams would host a press conference in front of city hall declaring himself as the new mayor with supporters Diana Bolton, Bob Stephen, and Robert Bedea.
Investigators say Gilliams lied under oath during a statement about the day of the meeting. He said he spoke with Parris once and never discussed city business. However, investigators say Gilliams made nine phone calls with Parris before the alledged illegal meeting.
Gilliams was charged with three counts of violating the Sunshine law and one count of perjury.
Parris was charged with three counts of perjury after making three false statements to investigators. Parris told investigators that she had no conversations with any other council member before the alledged illegal meeting on April 22. Investigators say her phone records showed communication.
Parris also told investigators that she didn’t know the regular meeting was canceled. However, a witness told the State Attorney’s Office that they talked to Parris, and she allegedly knew about the cancelation before having one of their own.
According to the State Attorney’s Office, Parris also lied about speaking with City Manager Paul Carlisle several times on April 22, and it caused her to be confused about the meeting. Investigators said phone records on April 22 showed the city manager never called Parris.
Gilliams and Parris were removed from public office on Sept. 15, 2020, during the Sebastian recall. The recall made history, being the first successful recall in the State of Florida and the only one in the nation that removed a majority of council members.
Stay tuned to Sebastian Daily for full details about the trial.
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