Jade Isaacs - 2/10 - SaintPetersBlog

Jade Isaacs

Pricey Palm Harbor home rental brings nightmare to tenants, lawsuit to landlord

After spending a year in a $7,650-a-month home rental, a couple is suing their landlord, claiming the house is falling apart.

Jeramie Concklin and his wife, Honor, moved into the 7,600-square-foot rental in Palm Harbor Jan. 15, 2016.

Now, Mr. Concklin is suing the landlord to terminate the lease and get a refund of the money spent suing him. The suit was filed Dec. 14, 2016.

However, the original landlord, Kamal Nasser, deeded the home to his son, Rifaat Kamal Al-Nasser in late September. Al-Nasser was set to take over as landlord, creating a new lease.

Nasser asked for the lease to state it was from Jan. 1, 2015, but the Concklin’s did not wish to be part of a fraudulent contract. The couple refused to sign.

When they first viewed the house in October 2015, Nasser told the couple he was in the process of completing improvements on the pool house and completing construction of a tree house. He guaranteed everything would be completed in time for them to move in. The Concklin’s signed a two-year lease in November.

Per the lease, their move-in date was set for Dec. 1, 2015; rent was set at $5,900.

On Nov. 8, Nasser informed the Concklin’s that the property wouldn’t be ready until Jan. 1, 2016, asking to change the lease to fit the new date. They reluctantly agreed.

After coming to an agreement on the home’s furnishings, both parties agreed to rent the home for $7,500, including furniture.

An updated lease, including these changes, was sent to the Concklin’s Nov. 26. Nevertheless, Nasser made minor changes and requested the couple come to the home Dec. 2 to sign the finalized lease.

The new tenants were prohibited from inspecting the home but were assured there were only minor improvements to complete, and everything would be done by the time they moved in.

When they finally moved in, the Concklins a cockroach infestation, the pool house wasn’t completed, the tree house hadn’t been started, the master bedroom ceiling fan wasn’t working, shower doors and curtain rods were missing from all bathrooms, and four bedrooms were missing mattresses.

Shortly after moving in, the air conditioner in the master bedroom stopped working. The unit was replaced with a new unit that leaked water, causing water damage and mold to grow throughout the room. The following months yielded three more units to either flood or stop working. The company working on the air conditioners informed the Concklin’s that they would not make any more repairs until Nasser paid the balance on the account.

Water stains were found in the home. When Nasser was told of the issue, he told the tenants he would paint over them.

The lease also included lawn and pool service. For months, the pool water was green, and the lawn was suffering.

The Concklin’s have paid over $100,000 in rent throughout the 11 months living in the home.

In November, they wrote to Nasser asking for repairs to be made or rent would be withheld. Although contractors and experts came to make estimates, Nasser hired handymen to fix the mold, water pressure, roof damage and other issues.

Because the work wasn’t completed by December, rent was withheld. Nasser attempted to evict the tenants Dec. 10. The notice was taped to their door and requested payment be made by Nov. 6, 2016, more than a month before the eviction notice was given.

Legally, Florida tenants can withhold rent when notice is given under certain circumstances.

Mrs. Concklin is the lawyer of record in the suit.


Student paralyzed as six-year-old dies at 17, mother sued for $15.5K funeral costs

After becoming a quadriplegic 11 years ago at age 6, E’traveon Johnson passed away last year, leaving his mother to pay thousands of dollars for a funeral.

Now, Lawson Funeral Home and Cremation Services is suing St. Petersburg resident Chantelle Ross, 37, for refusing to pay nearly $15,500 funeral costs for her 17-year-old son. Lawson Funeral Home is at 4535 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.

The suit seeks payment for the funeral, interest and fees associated with bringing the suit. It was filed on Dec. 16. However, the suit was written and signed in late October.

In 2005, E’traveon Johnson ran out of Fairmount Park Elementary into oncoming traffic. A car struck the boy, leaving him paralyzed. Three years later, the Pinellas County School Board approved a $1.1 million settlement for Johnson and Ross. That year, E’traveon’s special-needs trust fund paid about $189,000 for a 1,674-square-foot home in St. Petersburg, where his mother still resides.

Medical care for a quadriplegic can be expensive. It is likely those funds quickly ran out, leaving Ross without money to cover the funeral.

On Jan. 28, 2016, Johnson passed away. Lawson Funeral home was hired by Ross to handle the arrangements.

Ross let her nursing certification expire in 2007, according to state records.

It is unclear what caused Johnson’s death. His obituary described Johnson as a “hospital-home bound 11th grader who loved to sing.”


Ashley Furniture founder’s firm accused of defrauding Chicago company

Third Lake Capital founder Ronald Wanek, who also created Ashley Furniture.

To settle a $20 million Illinois lawsuit, a Chicago-based company is suing a local firm created by the St. Petersburg-based founder of Ashley Furniture to retrieve documents necessary to help its ongoing case.

When M & J Wilkow filed suit in April 2016 against its former employees, the company subpoenaed Third Lake Capital — an investment company of Ronald Wanek, founder of Ashley Furniture — to provide documents providing information on the employee scheme in September.

However, Third Lake denied M & J access to the documents.

The suit has since spilled over into Hillsborough County as M & J Wilkow attempts to retrieve the documents. In a Dec. 8 petition, M & J seeks the court to compel Third Lake Capital to produce the documents, as well as pay back M & J for attorney’s fees.

The April suit claims that four former M & J Wilkow employees engaged in acts of fraud. The latest suit alleges Third Lake Capital provided the financial backing, assistance and direction to the traitors.

The four men were senior employees of M & J. They allegedly devised a plan to create a competing company and attempted to steal business from the company.

As stated by the suit, in 2015, Third Lake decided to expand to Chicago. It created new positions for commercial real estate investors and property managers. The new Chicago branch was know as the “Fairbourne team.” In Dec 2015, Third Lake Capital created Fairbourne Partners and Fairbourne Properties. The team is led by third Lake CEO, Kenneth Jones, and ex-M & J Executive VP, David Harvey. Harvey is one of the four men named in the April 2016 suit.

The initial subpoena petitioned for 23 documents to be turned over to M & J Wilkow. Third Lake Capital objected to 12 of the requested documents. The remaining 11 documents were never sent to M & J Wilkow.

Documents requested included three categories: documents relating to the creation of Fairbourne, documents relating to real estate assets sent to Third Lake from employees while they were still working at M & J, and documents that name M & J Wilkow President Marc Wilkow.

M & J Wilkow is a redeveloper and manager of commercial real estate throughout the country. Its regional office is in Centro Ybor, an entertainment complex in Tampa.

Third Lake Capital was created by the Wanek as an investment vehicle for his family’s wealth. Third Lake Capital bought Ker’s WingHouse in 2014, the same year it was founded.


Insurance company sues lawyer for malpractice after $2.5M wrongful death settlement

Virginia Tibbetts

After an insurance company had no choice but to pay a $2.5 million settlement for the wrongful death of a 22-year-old Tampa woman, it is now suing its lawyer for malpractice.

David Kadyk, of Tampa-based Kadyk & Delesie, P.A., represented Axis Surplus Insurance Company in a wrongful death suit against Axis’ client, Paul Castellano Auto Sales, located at 1205 E. Jackson St. in Tampa.

On Nov. 16, 2015, Robert Smith went to Castellano Auto to find a new car. Employee Brad Cobb allowed Smith to test drive a Toyota Prius on Dale Mabry Highway. Smith pulled his car in front of an oncoming scooter, operated by Virginia Tibbetts, causing a collision that sent the rider to the hospital.

Tibbetts died two days later. Her mother, Cynthia Battersby, sued Castellano Auto and Cobb Feb. 5, 2015.

In turn, Axis is suing Kadyk and Kadyk & Delesie on two counts for malpractice after it claims that Kadyk failed to provide legal aid in a timely manner.

As Castellano’s insurer, Axis retained an attorney through a third-party service. Kadyk was assigned the case and Dec. 15, he received documents to review concerning the case.

For more than 50 days, Axis had no communication with its lawyer. On Feb. 5, Kadyk responded to Axis. Due to the delay in legal advice, Axis paid the settlement in an attempt to protect itself and its insured.

Axis believes it was only contractually obligated to pay $30,000 under its insured’s policy.

Smith was awarded a traffic citation for the accident. He was ticketed for failing to stop at a traffic signal, improperly changing course, violating the right of way, and for not having proof of insurance. Smith was charged with failing to yield as approaching an intersection: he pleaded not guilty.

Charges against Smith were eventually dropped May 9, 2016.

Tibbetts was a student at the University of Central Florida.

After her death, Tibbetts mother and sister took to Facebook to express their grief.

“Today my sister Virginia Tibbetts lost her life after battling injuries sustained from a car accident Monday night,” Kameron Tibbetts said in her post.

Fired Largo seabird sanctuary founder still fundraising for non-profit

A seabird sanctuary founder is continuing to seek donations for his nonprofit, even after being fired and replaced by his son.

Now the two generations are heading to court.

Ralph Heath, 71, founded Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in 1972 as a not-for-profit corporation. Located in Indian Shores, Suncoast hit some turbulence recently when Heath’s children started taking control of the business.

In a suit filed against their father, the children claim Heath took donations from the sanctuary for personal use.

A settlement was reached September 2016. Under the new terms, Suncoast would be renamed Seaside Seabird Sanctuary and Andrew von Gotard, Heath’s son, would replace him as president and executive director.

However, another suit recently been filed by Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, suggests the nonprofit is still up and running in a new location.

In line with the suit, filed Dec. 15, Suncoast hired Global Printing to create promotional materials. Suncoast provided Global with letterheads, brochures and mailing lists, but now Suncoast cannot get the material back. Suncoast operates its bird sanctuary in Largo “almost wholly dependent on donations.” No access to those promotional materials and mail lists could be “devastating and crippling injury to its business.”

Suncoast is seeking the court’s help, by suing Global on one count for injunctive relief.

The suit lists Suncoast address as 12388 Starkey Road, Largo, a warehouse raided by the FWC in May 2015. According to an article published at the time, the raid led to charges being filed against Heath.

An article about the suit filed by Heath’s children, staff had changed out the locks to the sanctuary to keep Heath from entering. The article also claims that Heath’s children took over the debt of the sanctuary to prevent it from foreclosing.


USF dean accuses doctors, hospital of misdiagnosing stroke

Mary Beth Wallace

A misdiagnosis has led University of South Florida dean to take the doctors and hospital responsible to court.

Wallace is suing the doctors and the hospital, claiming to have lost the ability to properly continue her job as Vice President of Student Affairs.

On May 15, 2015, during a speech at USF, bystanders noticed a change in Wallace’s mental status. She was lowered to the ground, where it was found she had slurred speech and weakness in her right side.

After she had begun vomiting, a participant called EMS, which then informed Florida Hospital Tampa that Wallace was on stroke alert.

Wallace was unresponsive and intubated before arriving at the hospital.

An emergency room physician evaluated Wallace, and immediately ordered a CT scan; the scan was examined by multiple doctors. Dr. David Decker checked the scans and concluded that Wallace suffered from fainting, rather than a stroke.

Less than two hours after the incident, Wallace regained responsiveness. She could move her limbs normally. However, her heart rate wasn’t steady.

Two hours passed and the slurred speech returned. Wallace began vomiting again, and her heart rate dropped.

An MRI performed on Wallace revealed an area appearing to lack blood supply in her brain. This was observed by Dr. Charles Readdy, the results were reported to Decker. Decker recommended “no further treatment.”

The emergency room physician documented a stroke – scored at a 7 – six hours after the initial incident. Minutes later, Wallace suffered another stroke, this time scoring an 8.

From there, she was admitted to the ICU.

Since the strokes, Wallace has suffered “deficits in attention span, rapid visual scanning, integrity of and access to semantic language networks, and inefficient problem-solving under conditions of limited external structure.”

These deficits have prevented her from being able to return to work as Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of South Florida.

By failing to properly review all scans, the suit claims Drs. Readdy and Decker were negligent. Between the two doctors and the hospital, 13 counts are being held against them.

Wallace worked at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. She is no longer at USF.

Former Redington Shores Mayor sues city over short-term rental law

Jay Beyrouti

A past mayor of Redington Shores and several other property owners are suing the city over what they claim is an unconstitutional town law regulating short-term rentals.

The ordinance in question prohibits properties to be rented for less than a month throughout the town.

Former Redington Shores Mayor Jay Beyrouti claims to have been renting his property on a short-term basis for the past 10 years. Other property owners in the suit have also rented short-term since 1982. They haven’t had any pushback from the town until now.

The suit, filed with Beyrouti and six other short term rental property owners as the plaintiffs, seeks the seven short-term rental properties grandfathered in.

The Town of Redington Shores is being sued on four counts for declaratory and injunctive relief.

On Nov. 17, 2016, six of the property owners each received a notice of violation stating they were in violation of multiple town codes. They were served with a notice of hearing Nov. 28. The hearings were set for Dec. 13.

Edward and Cheryl King have a short-term rental property in Redington Shores. They were the first to receive a notice. On May 18, 2016, they were notified they had violated the town laws. They had a hearing July 18 and Nov. 17, they were notified of another hearing for Dec. 13.

Each of the plaintiffs claim to have obtained all permits required and have kept their properties up to code.

After providing documentation showing the properties had been short-term rentals before 2008, the town declared that short-term rentals were illegal since 1981. The suit declares the 1981 ordinance “too vague.”

One property owner claims that before it purchased its Redington Shores property in 1982, it inquired about the legality of short-term rentals. The only requirement given was that it obtained necessary permits.

All the properties have paid sales taxes and tourist development taxes on the rent they earned, the town acquired the benefit.


Irishmen sue ‘trusted friend’ over real estate short-sale ruse

A group of Irishmen are suing a friend and local real estate agent for fraud after they learned the truth about a 2008 home purchase.

Ronald Fair, Robert Galbraith and Paul Donnelly are residents of Ireland; they purchased a 3,868-square-foot, waterfront Belleair Beach home in 2008 using licensed real estate agent (and “trusted friend”) Paul Kelly.

Kelly initially said the property was listed for nearly $2.3 million, but because it was in foreclosure, it could be purchased for $1 million less.

To secure the property, they wrote two checks. The first was for $40,000 as a deposit to hold the property. The second was made to Kelly for $132,500 for foreclosure fees.

When the three men decided to sell the property in early 2016, they reviewed the closing documents from their initial purchase. It was during this time that the Irishmen learned they were deceived when purchasing the home.

When viewing the HUD, they noticed the payment to Kelly wasn’t recorded. They further learned that the property had never been listed for more than $1.7 million. At the time of purchase, it was listed at just under $1.3 million.

Further, the property wasn’t ever in foreclosure as the previous owners paid cash for the property. The men were at a loss for what the $132,500 was spent on.

Because the men were outside of the country at the time of the purchase, they relied on their friend, Kelly, to get them the best deal possible. They are suing him on five counts for breach of fiduciary duty, deceptive and unfair trade practices, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and conversion.

The property is located at 319 Belle Isle Ave.


‘World’s largest’ SEO company on the run in Pinellas from California court judgment

A lawsuit in California is hitting the East Coast, attempting to retrieve money owed from a court settlement.

LBA Realty from Irvine, California, won a suit against a former tenant, Attracta Inc., which now owed $405,147 based on the court judgment.

However, LBA has yet to receive all the payment.

On Dec. 12, LBA filed an affidavit with Pinellas County for permission to go after Attracta in Florida to collect money owed.

Before 2013, Attracta Online Services operated out of Napa, California.

Attracta is an SEO (search-engine optimization) company that founded in 2009.

In 2012, the company was set to bring in 120 new hires to handle a projected growth in business, according to an area news source.

On the California Secretary of State webpage, Attracta had surrendered its registration in 2013.

That year, a St. Petersburg company was formed named Attracta Inc. Although its website claims to have been created in 2009, it is unclear if the enterprise is the same as the California company.

From Attracta’s website, you are lead to believe it is nearly a 5-star company; however, it received an “F” from the Better Business Bureau. In the company’s “About Us” page, Attracta claims to be “the largest SEO company in the world — with over 3.6 million websites registered and over 5 billion pages using our tools.”

SEO is used by businesses to get websites ranked higher in search engines; when someone searches on Google, their business is one of the first to pop up.

Attracta is located at 111 2nd Ave. NE, Suite 620, in St. Petersburg.


Square 1 Burger co-founder squares off with accounting partner in rival suits

Ray Leich

While there may be two sides to every story, in one pair of competing lawsuits, it is difficult to determine on which side the truth stands.

Leich & Teeling is a Tampa CPA firm co-owned by Barbara Teeling and Ray Leich, both 58; up until 2009, the company was only owned by Leich.

Leich and his wife are co-founders of the popular Square 1 Burgers chain of restaurants.

In a suit filed Nov. 7, Leich asserted that Teeling stole company funds among other claims. On the other side of the fence. An opposing suit, filed Dec. 5, has Teeling arguing that it’s the other way around.

Because the company is split equally between the two partners, the public accounting firm is considered an “S” corporation and the owners must equally share profits, according to the suit filed by Teeling.

Leich’s suit against Teeling claims that the firm would equalize the partners’ distribution accounts at the closing of the books each year. That didn’t stop Teeling from requesting accounts be equalized 12 days before taxes were due this year.

Leich responded to her request by assuring Teeling it would be taken care of. Since the date of the request, Leich claims he has found a disparity in the books: Teeling was, he claims, taking money from the firm.

Barbara Teeling

Leich believes Teeling used the firm’s AmEx card for personal use. He claims she also set up a secondary account in the company’s name and used it to deposit client payments. From there she would take the money out for her own purposes.

Leich lists several instances where money was stolen from the firm, he uncovered this from April 8 to May 16. When he emailed Teeling about the money, excuses were given; $37,000 of it was returned, leaving the whereabouts of the remaining $129,500 unknown.

As per the suit, the false account was closed after Leich found out about it.

Leich later claims that in September, Teeling informed him she would be leaving the firm. However, she asked to keep it private. No formal notice was ever given to Leich.

Teeling contacted the firm’s clients to notify them of her departure. She, allegedly, told clients Leich wasn’t in good health, a claim he says is false. Leich also believes that Teeling plotted to recruit all of the firm’s employees over to her new firm.

Alternatively, Teeling claims that Leich “is the perpetrator of the wrongful conduct asserted in this complaint and has already refused multiple opportunities to rectify his wrongful actions.” These so-called “wrongful” actions are described in the suit filed by Teeling against Leich.

Teeling stated that Leich took excessive distributions, jeopardizing the firm’s status as an “S” corporation. Leich has, allegedly, refused to return the funds removed from the PA’s account, despite multiple requests.

This suit claims that Leich was using company credit cards for personal expenses. It also states that he has taken time out of his workday to work on other endeavors, although Teeling never agreed to let him become a part-time employee. Teeling also believes funds from the firm were used to start up Square 1 Burgers.

Teeling believes that Leich told clients she was resigning from the firm, a statement she insists is false.

Leich and Teeling previously worked together at a national accounting firm. In 1992, the two left to start a “boutique” accounting firm.

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