Florida Developer|Accused of Wiretapping

     WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A real estate developer who is facing criminal charges of swindling Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca has been hit with a lawsuit claiming he spied on DeLuca’s attorney with a hidden camera.
     Attorney Adam Hodkin claims Anthony Pugliese, a Florida developer, arranged for recording equipment to be secretly installed around Hodkin’s law office to spy on conversations about a real estate project. Hodkin’s lawsuit was filed in Palm Beach County court.
     The development project, known as “Destiny,” was a planned 40,000-acre community in central Florida, envisioned by Pugliese and DeLuca, co-founder of the Subway sandwich chain.
     At the time of the alleged secret recordings, Hodkin was working for DeLuca, minding DeLuca’s interests in the project while leasing space in Pugliese’s Delray Beach office building, according to court records.
     Throughout his firm’s 2009 tenancy in the building, Hodkin “was unaware that the defendants were using the surreptitiously installed camera to observe him and listen to what he reasonably believed to be private conversations,” the lawsuit states.
     The Destiny project — one of the largest community development ventures in Florida’s recent history — imploded in its early stages, after DeLuca alleged that Pugliese had set up a network of shell companies to siphon off cash and fund personal indulgences.
     Pugliese and his manager Joseph Reamer were arrested in 2012 and charged with conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and grand theft for allegedly stealing money from the project. Pugliese’s legal team maintained that the matter was a civil dispute and had no place in criminal courts.
     Insisting he was the one who was swindled, Pugliese argued that DeLuca had lied about the interest rate that they had been charged on a project loan, so DeLuca could skim a few extra interest points for himself and rake in millions of dollars of undisclosed profits.
     Five years of litigation between the two wealthy men passed before Hodkin found out about the secret recordings in his office, according to his lawsuit. Hodkin claims he learned of the recordings when some of Pugliese’s old emails surfaced amid April 2015 proceedings in that litigation.
     In a newly-revealed email, Pugliese’s computer tech employee, Rene Remesar, wrote to Pugliese that “the camera in Adam’s office has been installed” as per Pugliese’s request, the lawsuit states.
     Pugliese’s manager then responded in another email, thanking Remesar and reminding Remesar to show Pugliese how to remotely access the camera on his computer, according to Hodkin.
     Pugliese’s civil attorney, Edgar Belaval, told Courthouse News that the allegations of unauthorized recordings are nonsense.
     “Adam Hodkin is a puppet of Fred DeLuca,” Belaval said. “The allegations are baseless and meritless and may be subject to sanctions.”
     Belaval said that the emails cited in Hodkin’s lawsuit are referencing legitimate security recording equipment, not devices meant to spy on tenants. The equipment was set up in Pugliese’s office building just as it would be in any other office building, as a security measure, Belaval said.
     Trial for the criminal fraud case against Pugliese is set to start Sept. 11.
     Pugliese’s legal team has suggested that DeLuca’s attorneys at the law firm of Holland & Knight had run to prosecutors and pulled strings with Palm Beach County state attorney Michael McAuliffe, a former Holland & Knight partner, in order to precipitate the criminal charges.
     The employment dates in McAuliffe’s LinkedIn profile indicate that he stepped down from his state attorney position in March 2012, roughly six months before the charges were filed against Pugliese.
     An audio recording allegedly documenting a conversation between DeLuca and one of his Holland & Knight attorneys has been anonymously disseminated online, purporting to show that the evidence which was presented to prosecutors was fabricated. It is alleged that DeLuca asks in the recording if the Holland & Knight attorney could lose his law license for proffering the dubious evidence.
     A judge refused to let Pugliese’s counsel introduce the supposed Holland & Knight recording into the years-old civil court battle.
     Hodkin’s attorney, Robert Buschel, declined to comment about whether there was a link between that recording and the recordings cited in Hodkin’s lawsuit.
     Hodkin is seeking damages for trespass, conspiracy, invasion of privacy, breach of quiet enjoyment, and illegal interception of communications. The defendants named in his lawsuit include Pugliese, his son Anthony Pugliese IV, Reamer, Remesar, and the Pugliese-owned company Pineapple Grove Developers.
     Prior to his arrest, Pugliese sat on the judicial nominating commission for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, where he is set to be tried in September on the fraud charges.

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