PALM BAY, Fla. – Former Palm Bay Deputy City Manager Dave Isnardi pleaded guilty to a single felony charge Friday related to his role in an ongoing corruption scandal in the city, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
Judge Michael Linn, a visiting judge from Indian River County, sentenced Isnardi to five years probation.
Isnardi pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy (extortion).
Isnardi had been arrested in May 2019 on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to possess controlled substances, including oxycodone. Had Isnardi been convicted on all charges he faced up to 75 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
As part of the plea deal, Isnardi has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and shall also complete 60 days of service at the sheriff’s work farm and agrees to pay court and investigative costs related to the case.
Linn also withheld adjudication in the case, allowing to Isnardi to avoid being classified as a convicted felon. However, should Isnardi fail to meet all the requirements of the probation deal, the judge can adjudicate Isnardi guilty and sentence him to serve up to five years in prison and fine him $5,000.
A second man, Jose Aguiar, a former candidate for the Palm Bay City Council, also was arrested at the same time as Isnardi and charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. That case remains open.
The arrest warrants for the two showed that the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement had been investigating allegations of corruption and undue influence on city officials in Palm Bay since at least 2015. The warrants drew heavily from secret recordings made by a confidential source working with investigators.
The arrest warrants for the two painted a picture of a city government embroiled in scandal, as Aguiar attempted to influence Palm Bay city officials.
Though not arrested or charged, the warrants alleged 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 alleged that Holton had obtained prostitutes for Mayor William Capote while the men were in Tallahassee. Capote denied the allegations.
As part of the plea deal, Isnardi agreed to have no contact Aguiar, Bailey, Holton or former Palm Bay employee Stuart Buchanan.
Capote is running for the County Commission District 5 against incumbent Kristine Isnardi, who is Dave Isnardi’s ex-wife and who previously served on the Palm Bay Council.
The charges centered on an alleged plot by Aguiar and Isnardi to blackmail two city councilmen to sway their future votes in favor of zoning changes Aguiar and Isnardi wanted for a scrap metal business they’d be partners in and other projects Aguiar wanted.
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.