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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County Clerk of Court Ronnie Fussell dubbed the actions of his predecessor "inappropriate" and "unethical" at a press conference at the new county courthouse on Friday.


In unvarnished and specific language, Fussell said the results of an internal audit found that former Clerk of Court Jim Fuller made questionable expenditures, including purchase orders signed his last day in office and employee raises given his last month in office.



Fussell said the December raises totaled some $200,000, and the Jan. 7 purchases another $140,000.



Fussell also criticized legal fees paid to the lawyer who represented Fuller in his recent re-election effort - fees that the Office of General Counsel had previously determined should not be paid by taxpayers. Those legal fees, which Fussell said were paid to attorney Richard Rumrell, totaled another $46,000.



City Council Finance Committee member John Crescimbeni, the only elected official to attend the press conference, called the revelations of the expenditures in tight budget times "egregious" and praised Fussell for making the information public.



In an interview with First Coast News, Fuller defended the pay raises, saying employees deserved them. As for the $46,000 -- legal fees to explore if he could run again -- Fuller said it was his office's opinion that he was allowed to use the money to get a legal determination. And Fuller said that the $140,000 in purchases was used to buy things the office needed.



First Coast News will bring you more on this story tonight starting at 5 p.m.


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