Waechter sentenced for role in illegal contribution scheme

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SARASOTA-- The former chairman of the Sarasota County Republican party will not face prison time, after pleading guilty to an illegal donation scheme.

71-year-old Robert Waechter was sentenced to 3 months house arrest, two years probation and community service, after admitting to making contributions to democratic candidates in the name of a fellow republican.

"It was a distraction. It's an unfortunate view of how dirty politics can be locally," said Lourdes Ramirez.

Ramirez, a republican running for Sarasota County Commission in 2014, was the victim of the scheme. Waechter purchased a pre-paid debit card and contributed to the campaigns of President Barack Obama, Keith Fitzgerald and Liz Alpert, in Ramirez's name. Waechter's goal was to embarrass Ramirez and attack her credibility with republican voters.

Ramirez knew something was suspicious after she received a thank you letter from the Fitzgerald campaign last year. She then took her concerns to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

An investigation revealed Waechter was the one making the contributions.

In court on Thursday, Waechter said he embarrassed himself and his friends and family. Ramirez says she was hoping the sentence would be stiffer.

"It's not that I want him to go to jail, but I believe he should have had a longer probation and a stiffer sentence. Now that it's over, I want to move on and focus on other things. There's so much do be done," said Ramirez.

Waechter will also be responsible for paying thousands of dollars in fines and court costs. We attempted to speak with him at his home, but he declined to comment.