By Jay Meisel
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - When the St. Lucie County Commission holds its next meeting, at least potentially, all commissioners could be present for the first time in months.
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott ended his suspension of Commissioner Christopher P. Dzadovsky, who represents District 1.
Gov. Scott suspended Mr. Dzadovsky in April after Fort Pierce Police arrested the commissioner on a felony charge of grand theft, involving a pool heater from the former residence of his ex-girlfriend who died last year.
However, last week, the State Attorney's Office reduced the charge to a misdemeanor.
Lev Evans, assistant state attorney, said the heater was re-examined and determined to have a value under $300, the minimum for a felony charge.
Mr. Evans said he doesn't know whether the initial evaluation was flawed, or the subsequent moving of the pool heater caused damage, reducing the value.
Michael Kessler, attorney for Mr. Dzadovsky, said the commissioner has entered a "not guilty" plea in the criminal case.
A trial date has yet to be set, he said.
"We didn't' think they should have charged it as a felony in the first place," Mr. Kessler said.
Mr. Kessler said the pool heater had not properly worked in years and it was believed it would cost more to repair it than buy a new one.
The heater was disconnected because it interfered with the pool pump, he said.
"That was done as a favor to Karen's (Bruno) mom (Joyce Ellery), so the pool would be clean and she could sell the property," Mr. Kessler said.
Ms. Ellery became the owner of the property at 1008 South 10th St., Fort Pierce, after her daughter died.
At some point, Mr. Dzadovsky took the pool heater to his residence to get an estimate on repairing it, Mr. Kessler said.
The intention was to provide Ms. Ellery with information so she could choose whether to repair the heater or replace it, he said.
Ms. Ellery later reported the heater stolen and told police she suspected Mr. Dzadovsky, as he had inquired about buying it.
Mr. Dzadovsky thought someone else had notified Ms. Ellery the heater was taken to his property, Mr. Kessler said.
When the resulting charge was reduced to a misdemeanor last week, Mr. Kessler expected the suspension without pay of Mr. Dzadovsky would be quickly removed.
"The governor's only legal basis was Commissioner Dzadovsky had been charged with a felony," he said. "I expect they are going to act in reinstating him as they did in suspending him."
Mr. Dzadovsky is seeking re-election and is unopposed during the Democratic primary election.
Fort Pierce Mayor Robert Benton III and Billy O'Dell are vying for the Republican nomination.
Mr. Dzadovsky has raised $13,440 in campaign contributions, the most of any candidate in the race, according to the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections' website.