Ex-mayoral candidate explains why he dropped out

Greg Laufenberg said he was offered deal to have charges dropped against supporter

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COOPER CITY, Fla. - A candidate for mayor in Cooper City explained why he dropped out of the race after one of his supporters was accused of stealing his opponent's campaign sign from inside a restaurant.

Greg Laufenberg said he met at a Dunkin' Donuts last Friday with Greg Ross, his opponent, Ryan Shrouder, and current Mayor Debbie Eisenger, who set up the meeting. Video showed a man stealing a Greg Ross sign from inside Vita Restaurant & Pizza last week. People living in the town identified the man as Shrouder, who supports Laufenberg.

"My intent was to try and get the charges dropped so it did not impact this (law) student's future," said Greg Laufenberg.

Laufenberg said during the meeting, Ross offered him a deal if he dropped out of the race. Laufenberg dropped out on Wednesday.

"The charges have been dropped and withdrawn," said Laufenberg.

But Ross told Local 10's Bob Norman there was no deal and that it was Laufenberg who called the meeting with him.

Eric Gilreath, who owns the Vita Restaurant & Pizza, said he didn't want to press charges and possibly ruin Shrouder's law career. He said Ross never asked him to drop the charges.

But Gilreath's mind may have changed.

"That is one of the reasons why I am not sure now if I do want to drop the charges because I don't want people to think that Greg Ross would do something like that," said Gilreath.

A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy was later spotted speaking with Gilreath.

"He was here to see if I want to press charges and I did tell him, right now, yes, I am pressing charges," said Gilreath.

A call to Ross was not returned to Local 10. Shrouder and Eisenger didn't answer their doors at home when asked for comment.

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