Corrupt Sarasota Co. Government heads to Lakeland Courtroom

CULVERHOUSE LAWSUIT EXPOSING CORRUPT SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT HEADS TO LAKELAND COURTROOM

PART I

BY JON SUSCE

On March 15, 2015 a six member jury, who for two weeks took meticulous notes and engaged in two days of deliberation, came in with a verdict that Randy Benderson and Henry Rodriguez conspired with former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley and various Sarasota County Commissioners, led by former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson to defraud Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. concerning a land deal in Osprey called the EEZ Project.

As the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported, “A pair of Southwest Florida’s most prominent developers (Randy Benderson and Henry Rodriguez) used backroom political deals with elected officials and conspired in secret meetings to doublecross their one-time partner (Hugh Culverhouse Jr.) on a major land deal, a Sarasota jury concluded.”

The jury agreed with Culverhouse’s allegations that Ley, Patterson and other Sarasota County officials fraudulently conspired with Benderson and Rodriguez to enhance their profits with millions in local, state and federal public money, by excluding Culverhouse from the EEZ project. The jury substantiated its verdict by awarding Culverhouse over $20 million dollars in damages based on the testimony of witnesses and numerous submitted documents.

A CORRUPT LOCAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Unfortunately, a month later Judge Peter Dubensky, who presided over the trial, gave clear evidence that corruption in Sarasota County extends to the local Judicial branch of government.

Incredulously, Dubensky reversed the decision of a six member local jury, four of which were college graduates, one with a master’s degree.  This jury took meticulous notes, listened to all the witnesses, studied all of the documents presented, heard final arguments, adhered to Dubensky’s instructions on the rules of civil law and deliberated for two days before reaching their verdict.

What was so inconsistent in Dubensky’s  reversal was that he he stated that the jury was correct in its findings of the facts.

Unfortunately for devious, fraudulent, politically connected multi-million dollar developers like Benderson and Rodriguez, along with disgraced former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley, and corrupt politicians like former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson and fraudulent jurist Peter Dubensky, Culverhouse has appealed Dubensky’s outrageous decision to an appeal court in Lakeland; a Lakeland courtroom outside of Sarasota that will be free from Sarasota/Manatee Judicial “home cooking,” and biased Judges in the pockets of developers like Benderson and Rodriguez.

The Culverhouse lawsuit involves a project in Osprey, that was part of a state designated Energy Economic Zone (EEZ) project. The EEZ Project was one of two in Florida that would have been eligible for state and federal incentives. This vast tract of land approved for development is west of Interstate 75 and comprised of some 1,000 acres along State Road 681.

POLITICAL CORRUPTION ACKNOWLEDGED BY JURY
In the recent brief filed by Culverhouse attorneys it states, “The jury in this case found McCann (a Culverhouse entity) was damaged by dishonesty, backroom dealings, and political corruption perpetrated through a conspiracy by the defendants. Specifically, the jury found the defendants conspired and tortuously interfered with a public-private partnership McCann (Culverhouse) had formed with Sarasota County.”

The brief continued, “The jury also found that the interference, as well as a separate breach of contract, caused McCann (Culverhouse) millions of dollars in losses. But after trial, the court granted a directed verdict in favor of the defense. Emphasizing that his rulings were all “legal” and that he did not reject the jury’s fact findings, the trial judge ruled Culverhouse could not prevail on its tortuous interference or breach of contract claims as a matter of law. Because that ruling misapprehends Florida law and ignores the evidence that supported the jury’s verdict, the judgment for the defense should be reversed and the verdict reinstated. Benderson and Rodriguez’s backroom manipulations killed the EEZ amendment.” (SEE ATTACHMENT #1)

STATEMENT OF DOCUMENTED FACTS OF

THE CASE CONFIRM JURY’S DECISION

The brief submitted by Culverhouse attorneys included the following various facts of the case:
    • Benderson and Rodriguez used threats to extract concessions from Culverhouse and made misrepresentations to undermine Culverhouse’s position in the EEZ.
    • Benderson and Rodriquez conspired to interfere with the Culverhouse/county partnership and defeat the parts of the EEZ that benefit Culverhouse.
    • Rodriguez told commissioners that county staff had delayed in sending him the ORC report for more than 14 days and then had demanded his input within 12 hours. That was false. The report was sent to him “hot off the presses” on September 20th  when the county received it.
    • Rodriguez repeated his prior false statement that the EEZ had never contemplated retail uses on Culverhouse’s property.
    • Rodriguez falsely claimed that the amendment would impose “form-based codes” on his property. But just as Benderson and Rodriguez had already arranged, county staff and the DCA had confirmed “the form based code applies only to” Culverhouse’s property.
    • Rodriguez told commissioners that the removal of Culverhouse’s 110-acre tract was a surprise change that presented “a threat to the entire comp plan.” That was also false. Rodriguez knew the 110 acres had been removed from the EEZ even before the Planning Commission hearing, where he’d expressed his full support.
    • Rodriguez demanded 110 acres be put back into the EEZ and the retail uses for that land be restricted. He claimed the failure to do so would violate the “spirit of the agreement” between Benderson and Culverhouse.  That was also false. Neither the EEZ concept nor the joint cooperation agreement had ever sought to restrict the uses on Culverhouse’s 110-acre parcel.
DUBENSKY’S RULING ABSURD
There was absolutely no ethical or reasonable way Dubensky could make the decision that he made in reversing the jury’s decision, with respect to a trial that so clearly exemplified the corruption of Sarasota County Government under the management of Ley.  For Dubensky to have ruled that there was not enough legal basis for most of the claims in the case to substantiate the verdict for Culverhouse is ABSURD and the Culverhouse brief submitted last week confirms that assessment.
CULVERHOUSE BRIEF MAKES A

MOCKERY OUT OF DUBENSKY DECISION

    • The trial court erred when it directed a verdict against Culverhouse on its tortuous interference claims because evidence supported the jury’s findings (1) that Culverhouse had a protected business relationship with the County, (2) that the defendants’ interference caused that relationship to fail, and (3) that no privilege excused the interference.
    • The trial court erred when it rejected settled Florida law and treated the business relationship element as a question of law rather than one of fact. The jury’s finding under Florida’s “probability” test that there was a protected business relationship between Culverhouse and the County was fully supported by the evidence
    • The trial court erred when it rejected Florida law governing proof of causation and misapplied Florida law on legislative privilege. Culverhouse could and did prove causation without the testimony of the commissioners themselves.
    • The trial court erred when it ruled that the commissioners could refuse to testify based on legislative privilege.
    • The trial court erred when it set aside the jury’s finding that the defendants’ actions were not privileged. The qualified privilege to interfere does not protect interference through improper means.  Evidence supported the jury’s finding that Benderson and Rodriguez’ actions were not privileged because they used improper means or were motivated solely by malice.
    • The trial court erred when it used its directed verdict on tortuous interference to direct a verdict on Culverhouse’s conspiracy claim.
    • The trial court erred when it directed a verdict on Culverhouse’s breach of contract claim against Benderson because that claim sought to compensate Culverhouse for the decreased value of its property caused by contractual land use restrictions and not, as the court assumed, to compensate Culverhouse for damages caused by the failure of the EEZ amendment.
    • The trial court erred when it granted summary judgment on Culverhouse’s fiduciary duty claims because evidence showed Benderson and Rodriguez breached fiduciary duties owed to Culverhouse.
SHOCKING–INCREDIBLE– SCANDALOUS

NEAL CONTROL OF LOCAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM

In reality, how can any reasonable person be shocked by Dubensky’s scandalous and prejudicial decision knowing that Dubensky is a product of a local judicial system that has multi- million dollar developer and Benderson/Rodriguez crony, Pat Neal as the chairman of a committee that recommends Judges to the governor to be appointed to the 12th Judicial Circuit.

Consider that according to the Bradenton Herald the panel headed by Neal has recently sent the names of five nominees to Governor Rick Scott for a seat on the 12th Judicial Circuit.  One of them, Brian Iten was the 12th Judicial District State Attorney, who gave the local notorious and deceitful political operative, Bob Waechter a slap on the wrist for corrupting the political process.  Iten eventfully received Scott judicial approval.

JOHN PATTERSON’S CONNECTION TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

How could any reasonable person be shocked by Dubensky’s decision that clearly overlooked evidence on politicians like Nora Patterson, who should be under indictment, for conspiring with Benderson and Rodriguez to defraud Culverhouse?   Patterson’s husband, attorney John Patterson has chaired and served on numerous committees for many years that have recommended judges like Dubensky to serve in the 12th Judicial Circuit.  In addition,  the Patterson’s social and political connections to other law enforcement personnel demonstrates a pattern of influence overshadowing this politically corrupt  Dubensky decision.

NEXT

PART II

CULVERHOUSE LAWSUIT EXPOSING A CORRUPT SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT HEADS TO LAKELAND COURTROOM

DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE BENDERSON & RODRIGUEZ

Posted in Breaking News, Regional / Local News, Regional / Local Politics, State News, State Politics

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