Gateway Sun

As the recall effort of Magnolia Lakes HOA President Flavia Walsh continues down its ugly path, surprising details continue to surface about the individuals involved in the recall effort.

Magnolia Lakes resident and Florida Highway Patrol State Trooper Michael Farris was found to have utilized a law enforcement tool known as DAVID to gain private information about Walsh back in April.

DAVID is the all-seeing and all-knowing system that police officers use to access the government’s database and find contact information (and other things) about you. By using the system when Farris was off-duty to obtain Walsh’s cell phone number, Farris was found to have committed a Violation of Law of Agency Rules.

Trooper Farris was issued a written reprimand and given a host of other orders by the FHP as a result of the agency’s investigation.

Among the directives, Farris was ordered “not to conduct traffic enforcement” on secondary county roads in Gateway. This was necessary because contained within the report is “video showing Trooper Farris positioning his marked FHP unit near the exit of the Gateway community. The video showed [Flavia’s husband] Tim Walsh exiting the community and Tpr. Farris following him out of the gate.”

Both Tim and Flavia Walsh felt this conduct by Farris was harassment as a direct result of their ongoing dispute. Flavia Walsh told the Gateway Sun that this incident was part of a pattern of misconduct by Farris, which led the Walshes to file a citizen’s complaint against Farris.

According to the FHP’s investigation report, Farris was also told “Do not represent yourself as a State Trooper to your Homeowners Association or during meetings”. This is because Farris would go to Magnolia Lakes HOA meetings and mimick Judge Dredd’s “I am the law!” routine.

Multiple individuals have stated they’ve heard Farris behaving in this fashion.

In September, HOA board members Po Chan and Fernano Miranda also filed citizen’s complaints against Farris for an incident in which Farris drove past Miranda’s residence in his marked FHP unit twice, and then stopped the third time. Farris, while in uniform, then got out of his vehicle and began questioning whether valid permits existed for the tree work that was being done at Miranda’s home.

Both Chan and Miranda said they felt intimidated by Farris, and according to Chan, Farris made a threat toward the board members before leaving.

The report’s conclusion stated that it was not the Florida Highway Patrol’s responsibility to enforce HOA rules. The FHP agrees that the incidents with Chan and Miranda occurred, however the report says there was no specific evidence that Farris was attempting to intimidate the board members.

That said, Farris has been ordered to report any future contact he has with his HOA board to his supervisor.

All of this is relevant to the recall, because according to multiple Magnolia Lakes homeowners, recall leader Cheryl Moliterno is knocking on their doors and claiming that Flavia Walsh filed a false report to the FHP trying to get Farris fired.

The report obtained by the Gateway Sun through a public records request clearly details that Farris crossed the line on multiple occasions. It is anything but a false report.

While Farris was only disciplined for his illegal misuse of the DAVID system, there is physical evidence and multiple witness accounts describing misconduct by the State Trooper.

Other allegations made by recall organizers against Flavia and Tim Walsh include misuse of HOA funds, with a specific claim that the HOA board revoked Flavia Walsh’s debit card privileges.

The HOA board, through Alliant Property Management, issued a statement saying: “At this time the Board has reviewed the matter and can find no evidence any such allegations as detailed above has been perpetrated by Mrs. Walsh or anyone else.”

The Sun is not taking a formal position on the recall effort. We are simply letting you know that Moliterno is spreading inaccurate information in order to persuade homeowners to join the recall.

And I know for a fact Moliterno is doing this, because she called me and told me the exact same thing she’s telling the homeowners.

Do you know who else called me last month? Trooper Farris.

In behavior that I would describe as harassing, slightly threatening, but not intimidating, Farris attempted about 6 to 8 times to extract information about Gateway Sun sources on a story about the Magnolia Lakes recall.

How Farris got my phone number is not known, but considering he had already been formally reprimanded for using the DAVID system illegally, I’d like to think he went a more traditional route of obtaining my number.

I ended up hanging up on Trooper Farris because he would not quit trying to extract information about my sources. It goes without saying that Farris was not given one syllable of information from me.

If you feel you agreed to the recall under false pretenses, please contact the HOA board immediately and they’ll supply you with instructions on how to rescind your agreement. There is an HOA board meeting tonight and it is suspected Moliterno wants to hit the board with the recall documents at the meeting.

break-line

As is my custom, I tried to work out a deal with Moliterno not to publish any more stories about the recall. I always attempt to let serious and embarassing HOA disputes get handled behind the scenes.

After-all, Farris had already been dealt with by his chain of command. There was a professional investigation, and a consequence for the Trooper. It’s not as if he’d gotten away with anything. The information was made available quickly to me, and the FHP provided more than I asked for, so the FHP wasn’t covering up anything. The bottom line is I was ready to move on.

Burying the story also meant I wouldn’t have to write something pretty embarrassing about Moliterno’s own past conduct that I uncovered. It doesn’t relate to this situation, but if the recall succeeds and Moliterno attempts to join the board, or influence who joins the board — information about her character becomes fair game.

The specific deal that I made with Moliterno was that we would all just move on.

It was that simple.

Everyone would just move on to other things. And Moliterno agreed.

But she tricked me.

Yesterday, just in time for today’s HOA meeting she was back out in the community trying to gather signatures. I believe she made the “ceasefire agreement” to kill this story, knowing that if she went out at the last minute there wouldn’t be time for Walsh to defend herself or for the actions of the recall organizers to be exposed.

If you live in Magnolia Lakes and want Walsh recalled for other reasons, that’s your decision. I’m just saying don’t do it because you believe what Moliterno is telling you.

Again, if you agreed to the recall and want to change your mind, contact your HOA immediately.

And lastly I would like to address the obvious concern I have for own self: Am I worried that Farris or his State Trooper friends will retaliate for this story? I’d flip a coin and say it’s 50-50. It’s by far the biggest risk I’ve taken with this publication, which is sad to say since it involves law enforcement.

They won’t do it right away. They’ll wait a few months, or more, if they do anything at all. But knowing the risks, I have kept law enforcement officials from another agency informed every step of the way prior to publishing, and contingency plans are in place.

But for the record: I am in no way depressed, and anything but suicidal. Just so we’re clear.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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