PALM BAY, Fla. – A federal grand jury will be hearing testimony related to Deputy Palm Bay City Manager David Isnardi's business dealings, and City Hall has received a subpoena for related records.
According to a subpoena sent to Palm Bay's custodian of records, the FBI is seeking records related to grant funds and loans from the city to Isnardi and two former business partners, Stephen and Penny Hamrick. At one time, they operated Hoppers Designated Drivers, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
The upcoming grand jury hearing is the latest twist in the political drama that has enveloped Palm Bay City Hall since state and federal audits of grant programs earlier this year turned up questionable management practices, as well as lax accounting. The findings prompted a rift on the Palm Bay City Council and a public outcry.
The FBI is seeking "applications, receipt of funds, disbursement of funds, default on payment, forgiveness of loans, as well as related supporting documentation and correspondences."
Isnardi was not a city employee at the time he was in the Hoppers Designated Drivers business. He became deputy city manager in May 2015.
Stephen Hamrick in 2014 received a house through Palm Bay's Homes for Warriors program targeted for veterans with disabilities.
Hamrick told FLORIDA TODAY earlier this year that Isnardi called him in 2013 — “out of the blue” — about the Homes for Warriors program in Palm Bay, and asked if he would be interested. Isnardi, according to Hamrick, told him: "I'm going to put you into a free house."
Isnardi denied promising the Hamrick a house, saying that he only encouraged him to apply. Isnardi added that the city of Palm Bay was responsible for approving all applicants.
The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have been looking into various aspects of the operations of Palm Bay city government.
The subpoena to testify and request for documents is the first concrete indication that a federal grand jury will be hearing testimony in Orlando related to Palm Bay.
Hoppers was a designated-driver businesses started in 2001 by Steven Hamrick; his wife, Penny; and David Isnardi.
They received a $15,000 microloan, via U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development community development block grants, administered by the city of Palm Bay.
The three eventually sold the company and were responsible for repaying the $15,000.
Isnardi, now the assistant city manager for Palm Bay, said he doesn’t know what the FBI is inquiring about with its subpoena about Hoppers.
He said he left the business in September 2001, several months after the business started. Isnardi said he repaid his $5,000 portion of the $15,000 loan in 2005. The Hamricks sold the business much later, according to Isnardi.
After learning about the subpoena last week, Isnardi said he met with his attorney, former Brevard County Judge John Murphy, to discuss the issue.
“When the FBI and the FDLE are looking at you, then you need to talk to a lawyer,” Isnardi said.
Isnardi said he hasn’t spoken with the FBI or FDLE, and he hasn’t been asked to speak to a grand jury or to provide any documents.
That the FDLE and FBI are looking into operations in Palm Bay also is concerning, Isnardi said.
“Yes, I’m concerned. It bothers me a lot,” Isnardi said. “But what can I do? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Hamrick would only acknowledge to FLORIDA TODAY that he spoke with the FBI about Hoppers.
Officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI said they could not comment on any grand jury activity.
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