A state appeals court has overturned a felony theft conviction against state Sen. Gary Siplin, ruling that an Orlando jury wrongly convicted him of having employee Naomi Cooper do campaign work on state time.
A three-judge panel of Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the jury ignored the possibility that Siplin was not aware that Cooper was still drawing a state salary while working on his 2004 reelection campaign.
The court also threw out a misdemeanor conviction for using state workers to further his campaign because the jury was not instructed that Siplin had to have knowledge that Cooper was working for the campaign on state time.
Felony convictions require intent, Judge C. Alan Lawson noted. The only proof of Siplin’s intent was circumstantial.