Wilson cleared of homestead violation; has car stolen over weekend

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Indian River County Property Appraiser David Nolte Monday ended his investigation into allegations former City Councilman Charlie Wilson improperly received a homestead exemption when he claimed to have a residence within the Vero Beach city limits.”He’s basically cleared,” Nolte said. “Based on what we see he didn’t do anything wrong with regard to his homestead exemption.”The clearance by the property appraiser was the first bit of good news for Wilson in what has been a long week. He learned last Monday he had been removed from the city council seat he had held for a month and over the weekend his car was stolen and a truck owned by his mother was vandalized. The homestead charges were levied by Vero Beach City Manager Jim Gabbard and city attorney Charlie Vitunac after Wilson testified during his city council residency trial that he lived in Vero Beach between 2001 and 2004. Wilson also owned a condominium in the county during that time to which he had applied his homestead exemption.”At this juncture I haven’t been presented with any information that could be construed as a violation of the Florida Statutes as they relate to the administration of homestead exemption,” Director of Assessment Control Leroy Kelly wrote in a report to Nolte.Wilson met with Nolte and Kelly last Friday and the report was issued the same day. “The issue is a legal distinction between a residence and a domicile,” Wilson said. “It is not illegal to have two places of residence, but for the homestead it would be illegal to have two domiciles.”In the incidents over the weekend, Wilson reported his 1995 Saturn stolen on Dec. 13 after returning to his condominium on 6th Avenue. Authorities found the vehicle a couple hours later on 26th Street with a Bose radio and CD player worth $300 missing and the transmission not working.The keys were found in the ignition and the vehicle did not appear to have any major damage beyond the transmission, the incident report stated.Also, Wilson reported his mother’s truck, which was parked outside his condo, appeared to have been broken into and rummaged through, though nothing seemed to be missing, he told investigators. Instead, the contents of the center console and glove box were strewn over the floor of the truck.In both of the cases, investigators tried unsuccessfully to lift usable fingerprints. There are no known suspects in the cases.”Where was the lady with the Chihuahua when I needed her,” Wilson quipped, referring to trial testimony from a next door neighbor that her pet dog would alert her to Wilson’s comings and goings at the condo.

The former Vero Beach City Councilman will hold a press conference Tuesday on the steps of City Hall where he will announce his future plans and if he intends to appeal the ruling which removed him from office.

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