Did J. Willie and the FCRA get scammed?

The Florida Civil Rights Association (FCRA) issued this response to a news article published today in the Orlando Sentinel, titled: GROUP WANTS ORPHANS TO PAY

For Immediate Release Contacts: J Willie David, III
Thursday, March 1, 2007 (407) 272-9254

LEANDRE FAMILY OFFERED CONTRIBUTION TO FCRA IN FORM OF A CONTINGENCY AGREEMENT OF SETTLEMENT

Orlando, Florida – The Florida Civil Rights Association (FCRA) issue this response to a news article published today in the Orlando Sentinel, titled: GROUP WANTS ORPHANS TO PAY

The Florida Civil Rights Association began working with the Leandre Family in May 2005, just after the tragic deaths of Frantz and Carole Leandre. From May 2005 through September 2005 FCRA launched a campaign to bring awareness to what we at that time believed was a civil rights violation, caused by an illegal police pursuit. During this four month period FCRA on behalf of the Leandre Family, issued ten (10) press releases, held two press conferences to include the erection of a memorial site and made at least 12 public appearances. Because of our dedication to this case Darly Joseph and Fritznel Joseph requested FCRA President J. Willie David, III to accompany them to meet with their attorneys (Zappitell and Kapral PA) It was at this 1st meeting in September of 2005 that the Leandre Family advised their attorney that FCRA should be compensated for their services should any monies be awarded in this case. FCRA continued to work vigorously from that September 2005 meeting with the attorneys through April 2006 providing hundreds of man hours and resources. The first time a written agreement for a contribution of 10% based on a contingency fee for the work that FCRA had completed was not formulated until April 2006 (11 months after FCRA began working on this case). To clarify from May 2005 through October 2006 FCRA worked for over 500 days, 2044 hours for 10 % of zero. Please see Press Release Attachments pages 1-41 2a.pdf of April 4, 2006 and February 3, 2007. The $175,000 contribution was not determined until the settlement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in October 2006.

The Florida Civil Rights Association is a non-profit organization which relies on funding for its programs and general operation. The 10% contingency agreement that the Leandre family agreed to was not based on cutting grass, attending funeral, press releases or research as stated in the Orlando Sentinel. It was to pierce the $100,000 statutory cap, PERIOD! Each step of this long journey has been with the total involvement and knowledge of the Leandre family. FCRA aggressive campaign caused the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to change its police pursuit policy for the second time (after four deaths) and forcing them to compensate the Leandre children with a $4.6 million dollars lifetime settlement. FCRA did it’s job well. This amount will never be enough to make the Leandre children or the family whole.

The 33 page invoice mentioned in the Orlando Sentinel was prepared at the direction and instruction of the Leandre’s Attorney, David J. Zappitell of Boca Raton. See Zappitell Letter.pdf dated October 19, 2006.

The petition for payment of FCRA fees was drafted and prepared by Attorney Gregory S. Bloshinsky of Boca Raton. A copy of Bloshinsky’s letter dated December 5, 2006 is attached.

The Leandre family participated actively in this campaign and FCRA assisted their SEVEN ATTORNEYS by providing documents and services necessary to bring this case to a historical pre-trial settlement.

In a February 2006 letter (nine months after the tragic deaths), the Leandre Attorneys admitted that they had only worked 200 hours and cost expended exceeded $5,000.00 at that time. From February 2006 through October 2006 what did the attorneys do or how many more hours did they expend to bring this case to mediation? (See Attached letters of February 7th from FCRA on behalf of the Leandre Family and February 13th, 2006 from David Zappitell) With that being said why would the Sheriff’s Office turn over $1,750,000 without having a trial? If it were the right thing to do, what about the other victims of illegal police pursuits, why didn’t the Sheriff award them multi million dollar settlements…Sarah Phillips (daughter of Jim Phillips; Pursuitwatch.org) who only received $200,000 and Fred Jones, Vietnam veteran (incurred over $700,000 in medical bills; his settlement amount if any is unknown, but it is not the 2nd highest as outlined in the Sentinels article).

In response to money troubles as referenced in the Orlando Sentinel Article: Initial financial problems occurred as a result of my accountant’s misuse of funds and withholding financial records. This occurred while battling a lawsuit which $30,000 of my business revenue was being held illegally. With the representation of the Department of Financial Services, I was able to get my $30,000 back after a two year battle. This same agency was responsible for revoking my license. As we all know that in governmental bureaucracy some times the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. While one part of the agency was looking for me to process these claims, the other part had knowledge of how to get in contact with me all along and the two never joined. This resulted in my license being revoked. While all this was going on my business took an additional hit as a result of the Hurricanes and my mail was being returned by the United States Postal System due to a computer error. I lost both businesses and most of my records. (All of these circumstances are a matter of public record)

In response to my arrest history, all of the charges were nolled prossed by the Court. I was not found guilty of any of the allegations made against me. (Press Release Attachments pages 9-11 4a.pdf)

I will say that battling these continued attacks took its toll, but it made me realize what happens to the average person in our community. Please note that my life experiences positive and negative have been outlined in my bio, which was submitted to the Court along with the petition, as well as distributed in the Orange County area since becoming the President of FCRA. I have made every effort to assure that there are no unanswered liabilities and to my knowledge there are no additional outstanding obligations.

The only reason this issue is before the Court is because the $1,750,000 settlement, attorney fees and expenses (which also includes FCRAs $175,000 contribution) must be approved by the Judge in Probate Court cases. FCRAs involvement with the court is simply to assure the enforcement of the agreement that the Leandre Family made for the services that we have already provided, at the direction of the Leandre Family Attorneys (Zappitell and Kappral, PA and The Morris Law Group) All the facts are a matter of public court records, as indicated in the Orlando Sentinel.

As a society we have been trained to over look the obvious or the truth because of sensationalism. Negative news sells. FCRA will fight to defend its reputation and the integrity of the work that we have done for the community.

For interviews or comments please contact J. Willie David, III 407-272-9254.

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