STUART — In her first public comments since her arrest Thursday night, Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard told Gossip Extra exclusively she is the victim of a witch hunt but refused to say who’s doing the hunting.
Heard was indicted by a Martin County grand jury Thursday and charged with two counts of violation of public records laws, both misdemeanors that could cost Heard up to one year in prison each.
The target of an arrest warrant, Heard, in her fourth term on the commission, surrendered to the county jail and was photographed and booked before she was released.
Yet she told us upon her return home to her husband, airline pilot Jeffrey Heard, Friday that she should not be in the trouble she’s in.
“I shouldn’t be in it in the first place,” she said when asked if she thought she’d be done with the investigation by now.
Does she feel it’s a witch hunt?
“Yes it,” she said without hesitation.
We asked who is targeting her, but despite the fact she claimed she knows who’s doing it, she declined to name who she suspects is trying to get her into trouble.
Heard, County Commissioner Ed Fielding and former County Commission Anne Scott have all been arrested and are accused of failing to surrender emails from private servers to developers investigating why the commission suddenly started voting against them.
The emails were first requested by Lake Point, a mining company on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, more than three years ago. The company was out to prove that commissioners were illegally communicating and discussing public business in private, and conspiring with members of the public against Lake Point’s interests.
It took several years for the trio to produce their emails. When she was asked to show emails from her private Yahoo account, Heard claimed it had been hacked. In a civil lawsuit, several witnesses testified Heard was lying.
Florida law mandates public officials to surrender any form of communication dealing with their elected office within days of requests.
So far, the county has lost one civil lawsuit over Lake Point’s records request and was ordered to pay Lake Point $500,000 to cover legal bills.
And the commission voted last year to settle a second lawsuit brought by Lake Point, for breach of contract. Depending on how to calculate the loss to taxpayers, the county may end up having to pay more than $25 million to Lake Point. The commission, including Heard and Fielding, even voted to borrow money to pay for the settlement.