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Former baseball player screwed out of millions now suing lawyer who botched claim against broker

Robert Person

After losing millions of dollars through bad investments, a struggling former major league baseball player is suing the lawyer who he says screwed up the claim against his broker.

Clearwater resident Robert Person is a 47-year-old former professional baseball player who pitched for four Major League teams from 1995-2003, with a career won-loss record of 51-42 and a 4.64 ERA.

During his career, Person earned nearly $12 million, including $6.25-million in 2002 from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Person’s agent introduced him to Ralph Jackson, a stockbroker and former basketball player.

Jackson, 54, is a former UCLA basketball player who played a single game in the NBA and two seasons in the Continental Basketball Association. He now works as a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles and had been a licensed broker for roughly 30 years.

After several years, Person had become unhappy with his investment returns, and hired attorney Patrick Davis in 2008 to sue Jackson for making “false and misleading” statements which led Person  into making “inappropriate investments.”

Attorney Patrick Davis

Davis is a sole practitioner attorney based in Palm Harbor. State licensing records show he has not been disciplined by the Florida Bar in the past decade.

According to court records, Person claims to have lost more than $1-million in principal and interest.

in 2014, Person hired attorney Mark Zussman to pursue a claim against Jackson and the brokerage firm UBS. In that action, Person ultimately settled for an undisclosed “greatly reduced amount.” A June 2016 letter shows Person hired Illinois attorney Howard Prossnitz to institute a malpractice claim against Davis, with apparently unsuccessful results.

In a lawsuit filed Feb. 28 in Pinellas County Circuit Court without benefit of an attorney, Person accuses attorney Davis of negligence and professional malpractice.

Failing to either settle with Jackson, file a lawsuit or Financial Industry Regulatory Authority claim in a timely fashion, Davis IS accused of allowing the statute of limitations to expire.

Living in Pinellas County for many years, Person has had a few minor run-ins with police. In 2001, he was arrested for giving a false name to police and obstructing an officer without violence; in 2004 for disorderly conduct; in 2005 for DUI and obstructing an officer without violence; and in 2010 for failing to appear in court on a charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Talking with Sports Illustrated in 2011, Person said he was: “struggling to get by, a victim, he says, of terrible investments and manipulative handlers. He is divorced, mostly apart from his five daughters, renting a small home in Largo … trying to score little bits of carpentry work here and there. His days, he said, are long and sometimes depressing — made bearable by the three rec league softball teams who feature him on the roster, as well as a part-time coaching gig at a local high school … ’When you’re playing, you assume — by investing your money — you’ll be set for life. Well, I trusted the wrong people. Bad people who took advantage.’”

Jackson has faced legal action from customers in the past. In his Finra report, his brokerage houses have settled a number of customer claims, including a $6-million settlement in 2013.

Fitapelli Kurtz, a New York law firm specializing in stock fraud, is currently attempting to assemble a group of investors who believe Jackson may have defrauded them.

Tampa man with lengthy criminal record sues prison for $250K, says table ‘fell on him’

Jules Rashard Smith

A Tampa man with a lengthy criminal record, which includes kicking an arresting officer in the face, is now suing the prison for $250,000.

He claims a mess hall table “fell on him.”

Jules Rashard Smith is a 32-year-old Tampa resident and father with a significant criminal and prison record. In 2006, Smith was sent to prison for burglary and threatening harm; and in 2012, he was imprisoned for child abuse and domestic battery by strangulation.

In 2015, Smith was arrested for striking the mother of his child, strangling her (she survived with minor injuries), and kicking an arresting officer in the face.

Court records show Smith was initially sentenced to probation, but then went to prison in August 2016 for violating probation. Smith also failed to report an address change and violated curfew., he was found guilty April 2016 of disorderly intoxication.

Officer Kevin Riley noted that Smith: “Was just placed on a new supervision for three years and is already playing games with his probation.” At one time, Smith told police he was living with grandparents Jeff and “Thrice” Arnold In Tampa, a statement that later turned out to be false.

On Feb. 17, 2017, Smith – along with fellow inmate John Henry Frederick – were sitting in the mess hall at Graceville Work Camp, in the Panhandle’s Jackson County. According to a handwritten complaint filed Feb. 27 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court without the help of an attorney, “the Dinning [sic] Hall Table Fall [sic] on me.”

Smith asserts that both Frederick and video surveillance recording of the mess hall will serve as witnesses to his situation.

In the claim, Smith demands that his rights “be respected, and all law enforcement personnel and their agents and prosecutors and their agent avoid conversing with me concerning any type of criminal activity.”

Smith says he has suffered “great pain,” especially in his arm and lower back, and is demanding $250,000 or more for “future needs and medical treatments.” His prison record shows he is expected to be released from jail April 2.

Woman in Hillsborough County Jail died of medical neglect, brother claims

Ericka Jazmine Roles

A Tampa woman with a history of mental and physical ailments died in 2015 while in custody at the Hillsborough County Jail.

Her brother is now suing the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, among others, for violating her constitutional rights, claiming they failed to give her proper medical attention, which led to her death.

Ericka Jazmine Roles was a 26-year-old mother who allegedly suffered from a variety of physical and mental ailments, including diabetes, psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, seizure disorder, and encephalopathy.

In 2014, Roles was arrested in Hillsborough County for trespassing and battery, and spent much of the year between jail, group homes and hospitals, where she was treated for diabetes, mental illness and other disorders.

Her last arrest, Jan. 28, 2015, was for a missed court hearing; she was allegedly in the hospital at the time.

According to a lawsuit filed by Roles’ estate Feb. 17, 2017, two days her arrival – despite a lengthy history of both medical and psychological issues diagnosed by both jail and hospital staff — Roles was denied treatment for her diabetes. Instead, she was placed in the general population, left alone and unsupervised in a cell (or a restraint chair).

Roles was found comatose Feb. 2 in her infirmary cell, a result of cardiac arrest, severe metabolic acidosis and respiratory failure.

Soon afterward, Roles was diagnosed with severe and permanent brain injury. She died Feb. 20, leaving behind a brother, Quinton Avery Roles (now 26), son Calvin Roles, mother Crystal Roles and father Robert Miller. Court documents show Ericka Roles had parental rights to her son terminate, with Quinton adopting the boy.

Quinton Roles, as the personal representative of Roles’ estate, is seeking damages for medical neglect and wrongful death. Named in the suit are Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Gee and several deputies, along with medical contractor Naphcare and several staff members.

Three boys accuse security guards of ‘terrorizing’ them near Tampa construction site

Three African-American boys are suing a Tampa security company for harassment and false arrest after being “terrorized” near a construction site.

Francisco E. and Francesco L. Bradshaw Jr. – also known as Junior Bradshaw – are 17-year-old twins from Hillsborough County. The boy’s mother is Kaytura S. Finley; their father is Francesco Levando Bradshaw, Sr.

Ruskin resident Caleb McDonald, also 17, is the twins’ first cousin.

According to a lawsuit filed March 2 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, in 2013, the Bradshaw twins and McDonald – each 13-years-old and in the seventh grade at the time – claim they were “walking peacefully” on a sidewalk in their neighborhood near a hospital construction site.

While the lawsuit does not specify an exact location, the site is likely in Riverview where Lincoln Road connects with St. Joseph’s Hospital South. The lawsuit also says that at the time of the 2013 incident, the three youths have never been arrested, nor disciplined at school.

Although the boys claim they never came closer than 30 feet to the site, two employees of AAA Security Protection – wearing “all black SWAT-type clothing” – allegedly ran up to them, yelling profanities and ordering them to lie on the ground. The three say they were handcuffed, threatened and photographed. After 30 minutes or so, the men eventually let the boys go with a warning.

They are seeking damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and infliction of emotional distress.

Incorporated in 2009, AAA Security Protection, which was located at 1448 Oakfield Dr. in Brandon, had been administratively dissolved in 2015. Its president was Brian Hughes, who records suggest could be the same person as 42-year-old Ruskin resident Brian Paul Hughes.

Plaintiffs say Hughes was the owner of AAA Security Protection.

Davis Islands woman who went to court over Derek Jeter fence is at it again

Deborah Ann Zomermaand is at it again.

Zomermaand is the Davis Island woman who took New York Yankees superstar Derek Jeter to court last month over the fence height surrounding his massive waterfront home.

Now, the 59-year-old treasurer of the Davis Islands Civic Association and vice president of Zomermaand Management Services is targeting Frank Paul Ripa, the Tampa construction firm owner who is building a new home nearby.

Ripa, 66, is the owner and CEO of Ripa & Associates, one of the largest construction firms in the Tampa Bay area with $203 million in local revenue for 2015.

In May 2016, Ripa formed 198 Blanca LLC to purchase a waterfront home on Davis Island at 198 Blanca Avenue, for which the entity paid $1.925-million. Ripa then demolished the existing structure, and 198 Blanca LLC submitted plans for a new, two-story home that exceeded the city’s 35-foot height limit by 18 inches.

Court documents are not clear as to whether Ripa plans the home for his own use or to sell.

The company applied for and was recently granted a variance from the Tampa City Council.

In a 140-page petition filed Feb. 23 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court without the aid of an attorney, Zomermaand seeks the court to overturn the city’s approval of Ripa’s 18-inch height variance. She claims the real reason Ripa sought the height variance was “personal preferences,” pointing out that nearby homes currently being built on the same block — including one next door — did not seek a height variance.

Zomermaand’s home at 192 Corsica St., is located about 500 feet from the proposed home at 198 Blanca Avenue. In 2006, Zomermaand and husband Randy purchased a $1.35-million, 4,608-square-foot home. Four years later, the couple bought the home next door at 190 Corsica St.

Black students sue Pinellas County school district over killing ‘successful’ reading program

Attorney Todd Hoover

Parents of two Pinellas County students are suing the school district over the cancellation of a “highly effective” reading program for African-American students. They claim it was due to personal animosity toward the program’s founder, who happens to be the attorney representing the plaintiffs.

Jadrius Boykin and Malik Williams are African-American students attending schools in Pinellas County’s “Area 3” district. A story published May 15, 2016, suggests Boykin is a student at Melrose Elementary.

The boys’ mothers — Tracie Boykin and Camille Archie — filed a joint suit against the Pinellas County School District saying their children are more likely to end up “illiterate” as a result of what they claim is a “callous decision” to shut down rather than expand the “First 25” reading program.

They say top school officials — including Area 3 Superintendent Robert Poth and Pinellas County District Superintendent Michael Grego — were “hostile” to the program because of a personal animosity toward the program’s founder, attorney Todd Hoover.

Poth is a former Pinellas County teacher who became an administrator after 15 years of teaching. He was named Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year by the Pinellas Classroom Teachers of Mathematics and was a finalist for Pinellas County Teacher of the Year in 1990.

Also named in the suit is Deputy Superintendent William Corbett.

Hoover, who represents the parents in the suit, is a graduate of Stetson Law and was admitted to the Florida Bar September 2016. While attending Stetson, Hoover introduced a voluntary, weekly, before-school reading and athletics program at St. Petersburg’s John Hopkins Middle School which later became known as “First 25.”

The goal of the nonprofit program was to improve the reading fluency of struggling African-American students. Barry Brown was principal at John Hopkins when First 25 began in 2012, and is still principal there.

In 2014, Bay News 9 named Hoover one is its “everyday heroes.” Nevertheless, the school district decided to end the program in 2015.

When district leaders decided to discontinue First 25, Hoover asked the full school board for an investigation — which later found no sign of malfeasance. However, Hoover claims the request made district officials even more hostile toward both him and the program.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 25 in Pinellas County Circuit Court, says that although John Hopkins principal Brown was initially a supporter of First 25, he scaled back enthusiasm after district officials opposed to the program.

After the end of First 25, Hoover criticized the district in a 2015 Bay News 9 story, saying that the refusal to consider the program on its merits “cost the district an opportunity to improve the reading skills of African-American students, whose performance on average not only trails local whites’ but that of their black counterparts elsewhere in Florida.”

School district spokeswoman Lisa Wolf responded that the PCS was not trying to kill the reading program, but wanted to bring First 25 “into compliance with district guidelines.”

Hoover blasted that as “more excuses … the question is, why don’t you want 25 kids from the toughest neighborhoods showing up on their own to read?”

The suit argues that the program was effective — 75 percent of the students participating in First 25 saw increased reading scores, and 55 percent saw improvements so great as to be considered “learning gains” by Florida Department of Education standards.

According to the lawsuit: “By suppressing successful reading programs for black children, Defendant has increased the chances that Plaintiffs will be illiterate” and that “domestic strife and unrest” will continue to bedevil the black community.”

Bad week for Bubba the Love Sponge; bank says he owes $75K

Bubba the Love Sponge Clem is not having a good week.

In addition to a former girlfriend seeking an injunction for domestic violence, the well-known and controversial Tampa radio shock-jock is being sued by Bank of America over a $75,000 line of credit.

The 50-year-old Clem, who owns Bubba Radio Network, Inc., obtained the line of credit in July 2013 from Bank of America for his business, with Bubba Clem personally guaranteeing repayment.

According to a suit filed Feb. 24 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, the bank is accusing Bubba Radio and Clem of defaulting on the loan.

“On November 23, 2016, Plaintiff declared Bubba Radio in default under the terms of the Line of Credit as a result of such failure and demanded that Bubba Radio pay the aggregate amount outstanding under the Line of Credit,” the suit says. “Bubba Radio failed to pay in full all principal, interest, and other charges outstanding under the Line of Credit despite the Bank’s demand for payment.”

As of Jan. 31, 2017, the bank says both Bubba Radio Network and Bubba Clem owe the full $75,000 in principal, plus nearly $1,000 in interest. Court records show interest “pursuant to the Loan Documents continues to accrue at a rate of $9.38 per diem.”

Bank of America is seeking payment.

In January, Beasley Media Group, a subsidiary of Beasley Broadcast Group, dropped Bubba’s show from Tampa’s WBRN-FM 98.7, leaving his show only on WRXK-FM 98-Rock in Fort Myers.

As of Feb. 13, the Bubba show was picked up by Tampa’s WWBA-AM 820.

Over the years, the former Todd Alan Clem has been involved in a variety of lawsuits and legal action throughout the Tampa Bay area.

In 2011, Clem sued then-wife Heather Dawn Clem for divorce. Later, both Heather and Bubba made national headlines when a 2006 sex tape involving Heather and pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan was leaked to the gossip website Gawker. Clem and Hogan settled a related lawsuit out of court.

Ten years earlier, Clem faced animal cruelty charges after an on-air castration and slaughter of a pig, of which he was later acquitted. In 2004, he was fired by Clear Channel Communications after amassing $755,000 in Federal Communications Commission fines for indecent behavior.

In 2013, Clem also successfully sued rival radio DJ Todd Schnitt for defamation.

Bubba the Love Sponge hit with restraining order for domestic violence

Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, the well-known and controversial Tampa radio shock-jock, is once again facing legal action, this time by a former girlfriend seeking an injunction for domestic violence.

In a complaint filed Feb. 23 in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Nicole Maria “Nikki” L’Ange – also known as Nikki Lange — says she first met Bubba in 2002 and later lived with him at his home in St. Petersburg. L’Ange was a merchandise/event coordinator at Beasley Media Group, which carries the Bubba radio show.

L’Ange claims that throughout the four years they were living together, she suffered violence at the hands of Clem, but this was the first time she sought a restraining order. L’Ange says Clem “once got on top of me and strangled me, which I have pictures,” hit her in the back of the head “to get my attention,” threw her to the ground and threatened to hurt her if she left or contact the police.

L’Ange’s LinkedIn bio shows she stopped working at Beasley in January 2017, suggesting L’Ange’s job was possibly connected to Bubba’s. In a YouTube video uploaded January 2015, Clem videotaped himself coming home from work, showing an aggravated L’Ange cleaning dishes in the sink.

After she finally left, L’Ange says Clem allegedly continued harassing her, her father and friends, texting her father that “he’s sorry he has a daughter like her.” Clem is also accused of preventing L’Ange from obtaining unemployment benefits, canceling her health insurance, and vowing to ruin both her and her new boyfriend’s business.

Clem allegedly “spoke ill” of L’Ange on his radio show, instructing listeners to “say awful things” about her.

“He is completely unstable,” she says in her petition, “and has a horrible temper.” L’Ange filed the injunction without the help of an attorney.

L’Ange is asking the court to keep Clem away from her, her family, friends and new boyfriend.

Over the years, the 50-year-old Clem, previously known as Todd Alan Clem, has been involved in several lawsuits and legal action throughout the Tampa Bay area.

In 2011, Clem, owner of the Bubba Radio Network, Inc., sued then-wife Heather Dawn Clem for divorce. Later, both Heather and Bubba made national headlines, when a 2006 sex tape involving Heather and pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan was leaked to the gossip website Gawker. Clem and Hogan settled a related lawsuit out of court.

Ten years earlier, Clem faced animal cruelty charges after an on-air castration and slaughter of a pig, of which he was later acquitted. In 2004, he was fired by Clear Channel Communications after amassing $755,000 in Federal Communications Commission fines for indecent behavior.

In 2013, Clem also successfully sued rival radio DJ Todd Schnitt for defamation.

However, Clem’s recent radio career is also struggling.

Beasley Media Group, a subsidiary of Beasley Broadcast Group, dropped Bubba’s show in January from Tampa’s WBRN-FM 98.7, leaving his show only on WRXK-FM 98-Rock in Fort Myers.

Beginning Feb. 13, the Bubba show was picked up by Tampa’s WWBA-AM 820.

After driving through crash scene, Tampa nurse accused of DUI claims lack of due process

Registered nurse Evie Nordgren was arrested in 2016 for DUI and possession of narcotics. She claims the arrest lacked due process.

After driving through an accident scene, a Tampa nurse accused of DUI claims the officers used “illegal search and seizure” and failed to give due process in her arrest.

Mary Evelyn “Evie” Nordgren is a 42-year-old a registered nurse who works at 1412 W. Waters Ave. in Tampa, according to her nursing license. Currently, Superior Injury Care is at that address.

Nordgren’s medical license records show no emergency actions, discipline cases or public complaints. She is married to Daniel Glen Nordgren; the couple live in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

In 2010, Evie Nordgren was arrested in Hillsborough County for DUI with property damage; she refused a Breathalyzer test, which triggered an automatic one-year license suspension.

Case documents say Nordgren completed substance abuse treatment in November 2011.

On the night of September 24, 2016, Tampa police were investigating a traffic crash near the intersection of Himes Avenue and Busch Boulevard, when a 2016 Chevy Impala LTZ – driven by Evie Nordgren – made a turn that went through the accident scene; the area had been set off by flares, and a Florida Highway Patrol vehicle with emergency lights flashing.

After officers yelled at Nordgren to stop and roll down her window, they reportedly smelled alcohol and thought her to be intoxicated. Another officer was called to conduct field sobriety exercises.

Nordgren again refused a Breathalyzer test. Being her second such refusal, it triggering another automatic 18-month license suspension. Nordgren was arrested for both DUI and possession of narcotics without a prescription.

In a Writ of Certiorari petition filed Feb. 13 with the Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Nordgren is asking to lift the suspension. She argues the traffic stop amounted to an “illegal search and seizure” since police lacked sufficient evidence to stop her in the first place.

Nordgren says she filed a timely demand to the DHSMV requesting a Formal Review Hearing of the suspension, as well as filed a timely Prehearing Statement.

As for the two troopers on the scene, the suit says “both testified that Ms. Nordgren’s driving pattern did not impact any other vehicles on the road and did not create an unsafe environment or rise to the level of a traffic infraction which she was cited for.”

Nordgren’s complaint argues she was denied due process since the actions of the trooper performing the DUI investigation, as well as other officers: “were not supported by competent and substantial evidence and their decision departed from the essential requirements of law.”

Court records are not clear whether the Florida Department of Health is aware of Nordgren’s 2010 and 2016 incidents, with the latter seemingly relevant to her work as a nurse, as she is accused of possessing narcotics without proof of a prescription.

Tree trimmer death blamed on employer, says widow, OSHA

The widow of a Thonotosassa man who died after falling while trying to trim a palm tree is blaming the landscape company for failing to provide adequate instruction and safety equipment.

Gray, Georgia resident Bonnie Beatrice Roberts, the surviving spouse of Darryl James Roberts has filed suit against Total Scapes Inc., doing business as Tampa landscape company Totalscape Solutions.

Totalscape Solutions is founded, owned and managed by 45-year-old Mark Anthony Gonzalez, and is located at 1717 E. Busch Blvd. in Tampa.

Darryl Roberts, formerly known as Darryl James Babilius, was a 48-year-old Thonotosassa resident working at Totalscape Solutions when he died Aug. 11, 2015, leaving behind three children, six grandchildren and Bonnie Beatrice, his wife of two years.

Bonnie was a cosmetologist Roberts married in 2013 after divorcing ex-wife Deborah Babilius in 2011.

According to the suit, filed Feb. 17 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, claims Roberts, as an employee of landscaper Totalscape, went to Culbreath Key Bayside condominiums at 5000 Culbreath Key Way in Tampa. Totalscape was hired to trim some palm trees “at great heights.” The trees were “not accessible by a lift,” so Roberts — using a body belt and lanyard — was required to use a ladder to reach the palm tree while also carrying a chain saw.

Attempting his first cut, Roberts fell backward off the ladder, suffering a fatal blunt trauma to his brain.

A federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration report on the accident concluded Roberts: “leaned backwards on the ladder to start to cut the first branch with his chain saw and he fell to the ground below sustaining head injuries.”

OSHA fined Totalscape Solutions $6,300 in for two violations of federal safety rules, one of them labeled “serious.”

In Roberts’ obituary, it said he “admired and respected the guidance and leadership of the owner of the company, Mark Gonzales.”

In the suit, however, widow Bonnie Roberts blames Totalscape, saying the company offered “insufficient equipment and training” and that he was misled to think the safety equipment would protect him.

The suit continues: “The Defendant’ s conduct made Darryl James Roberts unaware of the risk he faced because the danger was not apparent to him given the alleged ‘safety’ equipment provided and the fact the Defendant concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent Darryl James Roberts from exercising judgment about whether to perform the work.”

Bonnie Roberts is seeking damages for negligence.

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