Posted in: Exclusive, Local News, Media Gallery

FBI Serves City with Subpoenas related to CRA Deals

Posted on June 22, 2017

FBI Serves City with Subpoenas related to CRA Deals

On June 13th, 2107 the FBI served the City of Tallahassee with subpoenas seeking information related to Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) projects and City of Tallahassee activities. See the subpoenas here and here.

The subpoenas requested communications, documents, records, bids, applications, or proposals between a number of businesses/individuals and the City of Tallahassee and the CRA from April 2012 until the present.

The businesses listed in the subpoenas included Whitley Construction, IB Tallahassee, KaiserKane, Inc., Burnette Construction and Development, Inc., Hunter & Harp LLC, Hunter & Harp Holdings, LLC, Duval Partners, LLC, SheltonDean Holdings LLC, SheltonDean, Inc., Inkbridge LLC, Inkbridge Acquisitions LLC, Governance Inc., Governance Services LLC, Sunnyland Solar RE LLC, Cascade Holdings, LLC, and The Edison Restaurant.

The individuals included John T. (“JT”) Burnette, Melissa Oglesby, Kimberly Rivers, Catherine Baker, Adam Corey, Frank Whitley, Paige Carter-Smith, and Chad Kittrell.

Based on information in the subpoenas, listed below is information about development projects the FBI could be investigating.

Visit TallahasseeReports.com to read complete stories.

The Gateway Building, February 12, 2017

Tallahassee Reports recently reported that the $1.4 million in public funds provided to the owners of the Gateway Building, home to Walgreens until February 21st, will not be completely recovered through property taxes until approximately 2040.

This finding is based on financial information provided to TR by officials at the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

To date, approximately $980, 576 has been given to the owner of the building. This amount includes $537,600 in a construction grant, $328,364 in vacancy guarantees, and $114,612 in scheduled refunds of property taxes for 2016 and 2017.

The CRA project was initiated by JT Burnette and involved a number of his businesses.

Read full report here.

The Edison, August 18, 2013

In 2013 Tallahassee Reports published a story that revealed the City of Tallahassee was planning to spend $2.1 million in tax dollars to finance a Brew Pub restaurant to be located in the historic Old Electric building in Cascades Park.

In September 2011 the City Commission directed Staff to present options related to the reuse of the old electric building.  A request for proposal was subsequently released to solicit interest for a public/private partnership to implement a brew pub type establishment at the site with the City retaining ownership and leasing the use of the facility.

Proof Brewing Company of Tallahassee was the highest ranked respondent and on October 24, 2012, the City Commission authorized the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with the Company for the renovation and lease. Original funding for this purpose was identified as $1,355,714 in tax dollars with the private partner contribution of $1,548,286.

Proof Brewing Company eventually backed out the project and the opportunity transferred to Adam Corey. Corey created Cascades Holdings, LLC and soon after the Edison restaurant was completed.

Read full report here.

The Double Tree, October 28, 2014

On October 23, 2014, the Leon County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted to give the new owner of the downtown Double Tree Hotel $883,000 in tax dollars to help with the hotel renovation.

The CRA is comprised of nine members, including the five City of Tallahassee Commissioners along with four of the seven Leon County Commissioners, selected by the Leon County Commission.

According to the City’s website, the CRA projects must serve a public purpose and must address concerns raised in the adopted redevelopment plans for each area.

The owner of the Doubletree, John Burnette, was the top political donor to local campaigns during the 2014 cycle with approximately $24,000 in donations through approximately 20 different businesses.

Read full report here.

42 Responses to FBI Serves City with Subpoenas related to CRA Deals

  1. Steven Hougland Reply

    June 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    This is welcomed news and a long time coming. Public funds should never be used to support private business.

  2. Eric Reply

    June 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    I say, do away with the democrat and make TR our Tallahassee newspaper. This is amazing the way you guys uncover corruption when the democrap just over looks it.

    • News_Maven Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 7:16 am

      While I wholeheartedly agree, in this case, AP and the Democrap both beat Steve to posting the story. (See the time stamp on my comment at the bottom of TR’s Gainesville\Tally crime story for proof.)

      • DavidB Reply

        June 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

        There is something a little curious about that…

      • Steve

        Steve Reply

        June 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        TR requested the FBI subpoenas before the Associated Press and the Tallahassee Democrat. However, they were provided to AP and TD before TR. We are waiting on emails to verify timing.

  3. Vernon Reply

    June 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    The CRA is nothing more than a means to provide incentives for political contributions to the local city officials using taxpayer money to get businesses to “pay for play”, and reward their friends. Just check everyone that received money from the CRA and see how many contributed to local election campaigns. It’s immoral and it should be illegal…and maybe it is. If it was above board you would have heard each proposal debated for months in open sessions with full accountability, and would have required a clawback if they didnt keep their end of the agreement…like Walgreens. They should be more stingy with taxpayer funds than with their own money. Most of these giveaways dont make fiscal sense…but I guess that wasn’t their objective.

  4. Howard flowers Reply

    June 22, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    This is absurd the city taxes we pay for sucess is robbery tallahassee is a joke from the 1980s crime is off the grid taxes water fire rescue safe schools decent roads you have people doing jobs that account to no service at all you didn’t ask my opinion on the 11,000 you steel from me every year,,,,flat tax for all and then you bet everything would level out you waste and way overstep your bounds and have no concept of true budgeting if I came up 4 million short ! Business bankrupt cut all bs positions contract out 30 percent no pensions is bs cost come on business owners and good people stand tall it takes guts

    • CP Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      You make perfect sense, but PLEASE use proper sentence structure. This was painful to read.

  5. John Paul Reply

    June 22, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Maybe we need a retired Policeman on the commission again to straitened this city commission out, maybe I should run again in 2018?

    • Hope Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 7:14 am

      I was thinking the same thing just the other day my friend! Go for it, JP!

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Please no.

  6. James Anderson Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 6:59 am

    What we need on the City and County Commissions is financial people not political hacks that are self serving and give the middle finger to the taxpayers that pay most of the taxes.

    • Regular Voter Reply

      June 25, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      Good theory, but, unfortunately, only politicians get elected. Knowledge of financial matters is not one of the popular qualifications for office. The voters prefer to cast their vote for simpler qualifications like, race, gender, party affiliation, how handsome or pretty the candidate is. How many overweight, unattractive people with foreign sounding names get elected? The voters are not deep thinkers, don’t confuse them with meaningful, substantial qualifications.

      • Mr. Curious Reply

        June 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        Case in point….the Clerk of Courts race this last election. Many more qualified candidates than the one who was elected.

  7. Hope Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I believe it is safe to assume the recently retired trolley car is being retrofitted into a paddy wagon…

    One hopes all the developers will flip on the officials who ultimately approved, voted and benefited on the sweet deals. Finally a break in reducing the high rate of crime in Tallahassee! Go FEDS!

  8. Bryan Cronin Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Will this get the full list of investors in The Edison? I hope so!

  9. Barry Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Just think how much good that money would have done elsewhere! Great job FBI go get them .

  10. Mike Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 9:04 am

    This is extremely overdue but welcome news! At long last, an outside agency beyond the control or bribery limits of Tallahassee’s city government is investigating the systemic corruption at City Hall. Reminds me of the old adage my father recited in similar situations: “Give a fool enough rope, and sooner or later he’ll hang himself.”

    A fly on the wall at City Hall probably got some very interesting conversations after these FBI subpoenas were served!
    As one previous commenter mentioned, let’s hope the developers and cronies involved flip on all their City Hall buddies downtown, or perhaps even a Commissioner or city staffer will spill all the beans in exchange for a reduced sentence. As an added bonus: Andy Gillum is going to have an even harder time in his campaign holding Tallahassee up as an example of what his “leadership” produces.

  11. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

    On releases like this who got it first is irrelevant. The issue is the TD has been an accomplice by default for ignoring stories and mocking those who do report. The TD failed this community. Heck, the publisher banned me from just commenting because I pointed out inaccurate, as in facts wrong, reporting one too many times. They are “friends” with the people downtown. You can’t be. I wrote an op-ed years ago for Tallahassee Reports on the subject and it is impossible to be a reporter and be buddies with the people you cover. Brace yourselves, folks. Many in senior staff are up to their collective waistlines in this stuff.

    • Mike Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 9:22 am

      You are so right on the TD, Preston. After the subpoenas were served, I wonder if some of the “conversations” at City Hall extended into frantic phone calls to the Democrat.
      It will be interesting to see the tortured editorial gymnastics the Democrat tries to perform with this story. Or perhaps they’ll just ignore the entire thing, just as the mainstream media does.

      At least it appears not every FBI employee is as morally compromised as Comey.

    • Thomas C. Hooker Reply

      June 23, 2017 at 10:49 am

      One of the best was an editorial by William Hatfield about Andrew Gillum where he stated “I actually like Andrew Gillum…” How in the world can you say that? That is not your job, but thanks for stating the obvious William.
      The fourth estate is mostly dead in this town.

      • News_Maven Reply

        June 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm

        Keep in mind that this subpoena goes back to 2012, and most of the projects in question were inked long before Hatfield’s arrival in town.
        So that begs the question: What did Gabordi know, and when did he know it? And BTW, his former employee is on the CRA board:
        http://tallahasseereports.com/2015/11/05/edison-owners-fail-to-include-investors-on-state-beverage-license-application/
        In the photo, on the far right (visually, certainly not politically.)

        • Preston Scott

          Preston Scott Reply

          June 25, 2017 at 7:37 am

          Hatfield was made aware of all of the previous mess. And Jeff Burlew knew enough to dig and do stories. Check what I wrote to Skip Foster a couple of days ago. See below.

    • Jeff Griggs Reply

      June 30, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      What is sad, is that Beacons of Light, like Preston Scott, Steve Stewart, Zack Richardson, others, get shut down by the Local Newspaper.

      TD, who stated purpose is to serve most of the Local City Officials and HELP Promote the Left’s Agenda and Propaganda (read liberal)

      I am sorry. I just stated their Actions, History, their Liberal Filters and Extreme % level of space given for the far left, and their causes.

      TD’s lip service and their Actions concerning this Most Important Area, is close to night and day.

      This, while for the most part, trying to SHUT OUT the voices, wisdom/insights and facts of “that other side”, that is commonly labeled as the right, conservative, TRUE in their faith of America and our Founding Principles.

      I know many LEADERS, that are either restricted, slammed or “expelled” by the TD, from sharing their opinions. (incredible columns, Vital Information that the Tallahassee Reports shares)
      While Kathleen Parker, Leonard Pitts, and other Liberal, (many extreme), are “REGULARS”
      Their Vitriolic Headlines are Not Edited, Toned Down, nor limited in scope of their Intended Bias, Spin of partial facts or of slight truths, Mis-Representations even.
      If these other writers like Preston, & Steve, (the best, most fair) and others, were allowed to share views through their filters, ok then.

      TD has some good people there, many I like, even some I admire. It is time to have a Fair Balance, and not be in the same “agenda” of Influence as the Washington Post and NY Times
      Bring back Preston and Steve, give them a weekly opinion column that is exactly what they wrote.
      Your buy in motivation TD , aside from being Labeled as a more balanced and fair newspaper, will be an Increased Readership, Subscription Rate, and less anger/frustration directed towards you.
      Nike says what you should do.
      JUST DO IT.

      • News_Maven Reply

        June 30, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        That will NEVER happen.
        Gannett sees them as a competitive threat, not as voices of diverse opinion.

  12. J. Danger Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    These crooks will be screaming “Russia, Russia, Russia” and anything else that will deflect attention. Odds are they are talking to each other about getting their stories straight. Democrats are used to getting away with this kind of corruption – just ask the folks in Flint, Michigan – and with good old Uncle George Soros funding the child mayor’s campaign for governor, as well as his daily bread , don’t expect too much.
    It will be interesting to see how much, if any, in-depth reporting will come out of TD. Oh, I forgot, TD doesn’t have anyone on staff that knows what investigative reporting is much less how to do it.
    I, like others, will be watching this and turning to TR for the real news.

  13. JJ Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    All this after the Commissioners probably thought Erwin Jackson was bluffing when he promised the FBI was coming. Didn’t they even mock him by asking where the FBI was? Guess they know where the FBI is now.

  14. Phil Reply

    June 23, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Just think of the millions of dollars from Blueprint that will be available for economic development. Maybe the FBI should do a background check on all 43 names recommended.

  15. Doug Reply

    June 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I look for Nancy Miller to be named in this! She is arrogant and feels like she is untouchable but the Bureau will get to the bottom of her antics.

    Take a look at her husband and his dealings too!

    They thought this little good ole boy party would never end bot the party’s over and those of us who work hard and pay our taxes hopefully will finally get some relief from the corruption!

  16. Deedee Reply

    June 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Maybe the FBI will confiscate the city’s email server? What ever happened to the server they took from LCSB?

    • Lee Reply

      June 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      They made a copy of it and returned it. If you ask your school board attorney, that is what they will say.

  17. Karen A. Rubin Reply

    June 24, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    All the FBI had to do is subpoena their cell phone and private e-mail account records. Miller and her husband Buss texts CONSTANTLY during commission meetings and Cynthia Barber (formerly EPER, now promoted to whatever else) primarily conducts City business by text. She also conducts AKA business (her social sorority) and NABPA business (National Association of Black Professionals) business on City time directing City staff to conduct same. Or at least she did from 2012 – 2014 when I worked for her. As shocking as that may be, none of it holds a candle to the unethical and illegal activity that Nancy Miller is directly responsible for. I left the City because of it. And I’m so furious because I’ll never be anything other than a proud liberal Democrat & I <3 the NYT. But Miller is a BAD APPLE as are the gaggle of "Friends of." And arrogant? DEAR ME! It's Trump-caliber.

  18. Seen It All Reply

    June 24, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    There appears to be one common, but very low key enabler behind most of the “crookedness” described within TR over the past 10 years. The Tallahassee City Attorney’s Office maps out a “defensible” path for everything the city commissioners and those mayors do or approve.
    I hope the FBI knows how to really follow the money. I think a good chunk will lead to that office.

  19. Franklin Reply

    June 24, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    It should be noted noted that while the various TD articles focused on the recipients of the CRA $$$, the subpoenas were sent to The City of Tallahassee Government offices for their records. No subpoenas, at least from what I read in these articles, have been issued to the ‘non government players’. It seems the TD may be trying to shield The City of Tallahassee especially gillum) against what may really be going on.

  20. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    June 25, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Under the subject line of: “Instead of banning me maybe you should have been listening” I wrote the following to Skip Foster, William Hatfield, and Jeff Burlew.

    “Like a classic comedy-tragedy so goes the City of Tallahassee. The FBI is only at the beginning of SOME of the corruption. You guys have had actionable stories for years and you sat on them, ignored them, or mocked others who actually reported and discussed them.

    Instead of being grown-up journalists following others’ works and use your resources to develop and deepen stories you people acted like it’s not news unless YOU report it. As I stated – this is only the beginning. The Senior Staff of the City is dirty, but likely your “friends,” thus only get looked into when there are more subpoenas.

    This will get nasty and ugly and it did not have to be this way.

    The 4th estate in this community, with the exception of Tallahassee Reports, let us down.”

  21. Bill Carlton Reply

    June 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Some very enlightening comments! At least there are a few people in Tallahassee who know what is actually going on.

  22. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot Reply

    June 25, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    An investigation by the FBI means the subject of the investigation is guilty of illegal activity, at least that’s what they all said during the school board race.

    • Old Cop Reply

      June 25, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      I think hu mean during the school superintendent race.

      • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot Reply

        June 25, 2017 at 8:51 pm

        Yes, thank you Old Cop.

  23. Mr. Curious Reply

    June 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Usually a fact is the FBI doesn’t show their hand unless they have their facts and investigation ready to go. Thus, you don’t usually hear of too many getting off in federal court when the FBI has been the investigating party. Take a minute and chew on that. They don’t waste a lot of time in court, because their cases are usually that solid by arrest and court time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *