PALM BAY, Fla. – Former Palm Bay Deputy City Manager Dave Isnardi has been arrested on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to possess controlled substances including oxycodone, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.
Isnardi is the husband of Brevard County Commissioner Kristine Isnardi.
Dave Isnardi is being represented by Bryan Lober, an attorney who is also a county commissioner. Lober said he has told the Isnardis not to comment on the case to the media.
A second man, Jose Aguiar, a former candidate for the Palm Bay City Council, was also arrested Friday morning and charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Aguiar was convicted of conspiracy to sell cocaine in Massachusetts in 1997 and was sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison. It is not clear when he moved to Palm Bay.
All told, Isnardi is charged with two first-degree felonies, which each carry potential penalties of 30 years in prison and three third-degree felonies, each of which carry a potential five-year prison sentence.
The two are being held without bail until they can appear before a judge.
The arrest warrants for the two show that the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement have been investigating allegations of corruption and undue influence on city officials in Palm Bay since at least 2015. The warrants draw heavily from secret recordings made by a confidential source working with investigators.
The arrest warrants for the two paint a picture of Palm Bay’s city government embroiled in scandal, as Aguiar attempted to influence city officials. Though not arrested or charged, the warrants allege that City Councilman Jeff Bailey had an addiction to oxycodone and that former Councilman Tres Holton regularly had sex with prostitutes and used cocaine. It also alleges that Holton had obtained prostitutes for Mayor William Capote while the men were in Tallahassee.
The arrest warrants allege Isnardi and Aguiar were plotting to use a hidden camera to record Holton and Bailey having sex with prostitutes at “the Clubhouse,” a Canova Street home then owned by Aguiar, where Holton, Bailey and other Palm Bay officials hung out. They then planned to use those recordings to blackmail Holton and Bailey into voting the way Aguiar wanted on various issues including rezoning a property that Aguiar owned to allow him to open a scrap metal business that Isnardi would be a partner in.
It isn't clear from the arrest documents whether the two ever did set up a camera or make any recordings.
“Is this a joke?” Holton said, when contacted by Florida Today and told the allegations against him in the arrest warrants. “You’re going to have to call me back,” Holton said, not responding further to questions.
Bailey could not be immediately reached for comment.
The warrants also say that Isnardi and Aguiar plotted to plant drugs in Bailey’s car and arrange for a Brevard County sheriff’s deputy to perform a traffic stop on Bailey and to discover the drugs. The warrants also state that former City Manager Gregg Lynk was aware of the plot to set up Bailey, but didn’t want to know the details or participate in the effort.
Lynk could not be reached immediately for comment. He was fired in November after the city council voted to remove him by a 3-2 vote. Bailey introduced that measure and Capote voted in favor of the firing along with newly elected Councilman Kenny Johnson.
The warrants also indicate that Aguiar had previously supplied Bailey with drugs and that he also offered Bailey money to make a down payment on a house, which Bailey declined.
During a subsequent interview with investigators, Bailey admitted that Aguiar offered him a house and that he received $300 in cash from Aguiar, according to arrest documents. Bailey didn’t report Aguiar’s donation, which he held onto until turning it over to the FBI during the interview.
In a subsequent interview with the FBI, set up by Isnardi's then attorney John Murphy, Isnardi admitted to participating in discussions about trying to record Holton and Bailey in compromising positions, according to the arrest documents.
But he denied there was an actual plot to plant drugs in Bailey's car. He did admit, though, that contacted Brevard County Sheriff's Office Agent Jason West about the possibility that there were drugs in Bailey's car and noted that Bailey "was doing drugs anyway."
Ultimately, Isnardi claimed the plot was only "guys talking s---, drinking beers and smoking cigars," according to the arrest documents.
Capote said he was surprised to learn from News 6 partner Florida Today that his name was mentioned in the arrest warrant as being connected with prostitutes.
He said those allegations are untrue.
“I don’t know who would tell someone that,” Capote said. “That’s profound. This is all new to me. That accusation has no validity.”
Capote said he has been in Tallahassee in the past on city business, meeting with state legislators and other state officials, but he did not hang out with Holton while he was there.
Capote says people may have been trying to taint him for political reasons.
Capote said he was never interviewed by investigators, and that he has no reason to secure a lawyer in this matter.
Lober, the county commissioner representing Isnardi, said that being accused of something is the same as being convicted.
"Dave hasn’t been convicted of anything in relation to these years-old hyper-political allegations. Given the number of individuals allegedly involved and the complexity of the allegations, this is not a case which is likely to be resolved quickly. I have no doubt that the facts will become increasingly clear in the coming months.”