Appeals court rules against Harry Sargeant

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A former partner of Florida Republican money man and oil billionaire Harry Sargeant III should get interest on a nearly $29 million court judgment, as well as the principal already awarded against Sargeant, a Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The background of the case reads like a novel. Sargeant, a former state Republican Party finance chairman tapped for the post by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, had a partnership with Mohammed Al-Saleh, a brother-in-law of the king of Jordan, to truck oil through Jordan to U.S. troops in Iraq in an exclusive deal with the military. Al-Saleh was reportedly supposed to assure the Jordanian government would keep the deal exclusive. But Al-Saleh alleged that Sargeant and another partner tried to cut him out of the profits and sued. A Palm Beach County jury agreed in 2011 and ordered Sargeant to pay Al-Saleh $28.8 million, a judgment upheld Wednesdayby the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach.

The court also said the case should go back to the trial level for the awarding of pre-judgment interest going back to Aug. 31, 2009, when the contracts at issue ended.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.