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State attorney says no charges in Goocher investigation

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By Mike Wright

The State Attorney's Office has concluded its investigation into allegations of tinkering in the Democratic primary for state House District 34 and found no wrongdoing.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson released a memo Friday saying he closed the case with no charges.

Independent candidate Nancy Argenziano claimed that Inverness attorney Bill Grant and state Rep. Jimmie T. Smith conspired to plant a Democrat in the state House race to draw votes away from Argenziano in the November election.

A Floral City man, Jim Brunswick, said Grant approached him to run for office and "would make it worth his while" if he did that. Brunswick said he later had a conversation with Smith, who said they had found another candidate instead.

Argenziano said the other candidate was Robert Goocher, an Inverness auto mechanic who filed for office but did not campaign.

Simpson said Goocher denied that anyone coerced him to run for office. He said he knew Grant because he is his father's attorney.

Simpson did not interview Grant or Smith. He said Grant, through an attorney, declined to be interviewed. He said Smith agreed to an interview but wouldn't be available until Oct. 24, so Simpson decided waiting would only delay in closing the case.

For more on this story, see Saturday's Chronicle.