Read the RICO case
By Dan Moffett
The Town of Gulf Stream has rolled out the heavy artillery in its legal war against residents Martin O’Boyle and Christopher O’Hare, filing a class-action RICO lawsuit Feb. 12 in U.S. District Court.
The 48-page federal complaint alleges that the two men engaged in a conspiracy to exploit the state’s public record laws and extort settlements from the town and other municipalities and organizations around the state.
O’Boyle and O’Hare, the suit says, “filed frivolous public records requests and lawsuits” against hundreds of governments, businesses and organizations, and then demanded attorneys’ fees and costs, “resulting in a profit windfall” that funneled through The O’Boyle Law Firm in Deerfield Beach.
O’Boyle’s son, Jonathan, a Pennsylvania lawyer, is among a half-dozen attorneys and employees of the law firm named as co-defendants in the suit.
A central figure in the town’s case is Joel Chandler, who worked for Martin O’Boyle last year as executive director of Citizens Awareness Foundation Inc. (CAFI), a group that collaborated with The O’Boyle Law Firm to file the records requests. Chandler had a falling out with O’Boyle after a few months and has been publicly critical of CAFI and the O’Boyles. Chandler was not named as a defendant in the suit.
Gulf Stream officials say they have fielded more than 1,700 public records requests from O’Boyle and O’Hare during the last two years, and the two men have filed dozens of suits against the town in the state and federal courts.
Joining Gulf Stream in the class action is Wantman Group Inc., a West Palm Beach engineering company, that also claims to have been victimized by frivolous records requests and settlement demands.
The extraordinary step of filing a RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations) suit allows the town and the other plaintiffs to seek triple damages and legal fees from the defendants. Gulf Stream officials say the town has spent more than $1 million to handle the records requests and pay legal bills during the last two years.
Mayor Scott Morgan said the town also will pursue its case against O’Boyle and O’Hare at the state level, calling on the State Attorney’s Office and Florida attorney general to act against the two men.
Morgan said that O’Boyle and O’Hare had abused the state’s public records laws and engaged in “a conspiracy of sorts to advance actions that essentially do nothing other than shake down municipal agencies.”
O'Boyle and O'Hare deny any wrongdoing and accuse the town of violating records laws.
My question is to Kate Leming- why do you refuse to report that I have a Federal Lawsuite against the Town of South Palm Beach?
After a year of threatening to do it the Town finally filed the mother of all frivolous suits. I just finished reading this complaint and I find it so full of inaccuracies and misinformation that as a taxpayer I believe the Town should be suing whoever wrote this suit for doing such a shoddy job.
The Town has a track record of responding to any challenge by coming out swinging without regard to the legality of their actions. This is a case in point. Last week I filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics about Mayor Morgan secretly directing the activities of the Town's attorneys on behalf of the Town Commission. Such acts are required to be conducted in the "Sunshine." Now the Town reacts by filing a retaliatory suit against me.
Mayor Morgan now has his signature legal action that he has worked so hard to bring together with his attorneys. Too bad he did all this in violation of the Florida Sunshine laws. Nevertheless, I look forward to finally having my day in court. But what a waste of taxpayer money by a Town that just won't admit to any wrongdoing about anything no matter what.