Friday, July 06, 2018


On July 3, 2018, the day before Independence Day, ROGERS TOWERS partner ELLEN AVERY-SMITH, on behalf of Texas billionaire DONALD R. HORTON and St. Augustine landowner PIERRE THOMPSON, presented false testimony that bald eagle nest number SJ019 on Fish Island is "abandoned."

The bald eagle is our national symbol, no longer endangered but still a threatened species, legally protected by two federal criminal laws, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

In fact, during the 2017-2018 season, the "abandoned" bald eagle nest was shown to be an active bald eagle nest, with a nesting pair and babies.   

Unrebutted testimony from our  Matanzas Riverkeeper, Jen Lemberk, St. Johns County Audubon Society President Amy Koch, Audubon Eagle Watch expert Rhonda Lovett and eco-tour guide Adam Morley ALL verified the presence of eagles, with time-stepped photos (17MAR2018 13:15; 13:17; 13:19) admitted into evidence by PZB:

Like a proverbial "hog caught under a gate," these developers, their "expert" witness and their lawyers could face possible criminal prosecution and ethics charges.  I filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission about violations of SEC Rule 10b-5
codified at 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5.

Why this matters:

  • Along the banks of the pristine Matanzas River, a pristine oyster-growing fishery, there's a pristine forest, containing the archaeological remains of the plantation of Florida's first crooked Realtor, Jesse Fish.  Jesse Fish defrauded the British leaving St. Augustine in 1764, saying he would send them the proceeds from the sale of their houses and commercial buildings.  Then he defrauded the British leaving St. Augustine circa 1783. Stavely is often ably portrayed by John Stavely.  (A HORTON witness claimed Fish imported food and prevented starvation, calling Fish the "savior of St. Augustine," believe it or not.
  • This iconic viewshed is beloved.
  • IF developers have their way, the Jesse Fish plantation archaeological site would become a "park" behind the fence of a "gated community." 
  • An ethically-challenged "expert" witness for D.R. HORTON claimed the bald eagle's nest was "inactive" and "abandoned."  

RYAN CARTER says on his website that he's an "advocate" for his corporate clients. 
That's true.  
He blurs ethical lines with false, misleading testimony.  He's a hired gun, the sort of person that Prof. Alan Dershowitz calls a "testa-liar."
More here:
  • It strongly appears that RYAN CARTER lied.  
  • Experts testified with photos, states and times when a nesting pair of bald eagles was seen at Fish Island during the 2017-2018 nesting season, with young.
  • Did perjury contaminate the PZB the day before Independence day? 
  • Then-Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the Supreme Court in reversing a decision wrought by perjury, Mesarosh v. United States, 352 U.S. 1, 14 (1956),  perjury "poisoned the water in the reservoir." Americans expect "to see that the waters of justice are not polluted. Pollution having taken place here, the condition should be remedied at the earliest opportunity. " Id.
Epic local environmental law history:

  • On October 8, 2001, PIERRE THOMPSON, grandson of the founder of the St. Augustine Record, ordered a bald eagle nest tree on Fish Island destroyed.  
  • I investigated it and published in 2005 an article in The Collective Press, with a photo of a bald eagle glaring at PIERRE THOMPSON, with a cutline, "J'accuse."
  • In United States of America v. Thompson Bros. Realty, the defendant corporation was charged with a federal felony on March 30, 2007, by United States Attorney Paul Perez, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scioritino, and Jacksonville Division Deputy Chief Donald T. Henry, with molesting a bald eagle on October 8, 2001, in violation of federal criminal law, "knowingly and with wanton disregard of the consequences of its actions,  take, disturb and molest a bald eagle, without being permitted to do so by law," violating 16 U.S.C. § 668(a) and 50 C.F.R. § 22.3.
  • On April 25, 2007, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan recused himself, sua sponte.
  • Federal criminal defendant Thompson Bros. Realty agreed to extend the statute of limitations, which almost expired.
  • Federal criminal defendant Thompson Bros. Realty was represented by Charles P. Pillans, III  and Oliver David Barksdale Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe, PA, Bedell Building, Jacksonville, Florida.  In a March 3, 2008 sentencing memorandum, unadorned by any affidavits or sworn declarations, Defendant  Thompons Bros. Realty bragged about its many alleged "contributions" to St. Augustine, implying that rebarbative St. Augustine reprobate PIERRE THOMPSON hung the moon, stating:  
Defendant, Thompson Bros. 

Realty, Inc., submits this memorandum in support of its request that the Court impose as the sentence the requirement that Thompson Bros. Realty, Inc. place a conservation easement on land, as agreed to by the parties in the plea agreement.
The Thompson family has strong, long-time business, social and charitable ties to St. Augustine. The president of Thompson Bros. Realty, Inc. is Pierre Thompson, age 80. The name Thompson Bros. refers to Pierre and his now deceased brother. Their father, John Thompson, and his partner, Harold Rymand, purchased Fish Island and other property in St. Johns County during the Depression.
On Fish Island is the former Jessie Fish homesite, the site of the first commercial orange grove in the United States, whose sour oranges were enjoyed internationally. In 2000, Thompson Bros., recognizing the site’s historical significance, allowed many students, city officials, and other interested people to participate in an archaeological dig at the site.

Thompson Bros. and the Thompson family have always been heavy contributors to charities and educational causes. Since 2005 alone, Pierre Thompson has personally given over $290,000 to Flagler College, the Cathedral Parish School, Rollins College, Rotary International, St. Benedictine School and Church, Flagler Health Care, Young Life, the Cancer Society, and others. Thompson Bros., since 2004, has contributed approximately $60,000 to the Diocese of St. Augustine Elementary School fund. The Thompson family, through a realty company, has given an additional $38,000 since 2002 to various other causes. Pierre Thompson’s son, Paul, now has taken over much of the day-to-day operation of Thompson Bros., and he has continued in his father’s legacy of community involvement and charitable giving.

It is significant to note that the eagles were able to successfully nest, and have continued to do so on Fish Island each year. Thompson Bros. assisted the successful re-nesting by investing approximately $76,000 for environmental monitoring during the time that construction was completed nearby.

The corporation did not (sic) enjoy any pecuniary gain, and no one suffered any pecuniary loss.

The dedication of the conservation easement will assure that the land will remain perpetually in its pristine state and continue to be a natural asset for the citizens of St. Augustine. The estimated value of the land is between $71,181.40 and $143,887.90.Based on the factors under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3553 and 3572, Thompson Bros. submits that the conservation easement recommended in the plea agreement is a sufficient, but not greater than necessary, sentence.

End of defense lawyer's hagiography about PIERRE THOMPSON.

  • In truth and in fact, PIERRE THOMPSON. ordered only one (1) tree cut down on October 8, 2001, knowing that moving it would make it easier for him to sell the land at Fish Island.
  • Thompson Bros. Realty pled guilty on December 17, 2007.
  • On March 6, 2008, Judge Thomas E. Morriss sentenced Thompson Bros. Realty to probation and a fine.
  • Thompson Bros. Realty  then allegedly violated probation
  • The Court  extended probation through 2009.
  • Thompson Bros. Realty paid a "special assessment" of $125.00, a "fine" of $143,887.90and deeded some sixteen (16) acres as mitigation to the Northeast Florida Land Trust.  
  • But it was marshland, not upland.  Why? The bald eagle molestation took place on uplands. 
  • The St. Augustine Record NEVER reported the news about the criminal conviction of the grandson of the founder of the St. Augustine Record, and a large landowner.  Wonder why?
  • On July 6, 2012, Mosquito Control Commission Chair Jeanne Moeller saw PIERRE THOMPSON at a Democratic Thomas Jefferson impersonator fundraiser at Amici restaurant. Ms. Moeller went up to THOMPSON and said "Hi, Pierre, how are the eagles?"  

The bald eagles survive.  


Controversial Texas billionaire DONALD R. HORTON and lawyer TED IRA HARBOUR, D.R. HORTON's Vice President and General Counsel have not responded to telephone messages on July 5, 2018.   
More on HORTON:

No response from my July 5, 2018 e-mail to lying RYAN CARTER.

HORTON's presenting false testimony or perjury about bald eagles raises serious questions:

  • Should the PUD be denied for possible perjury, conspiracy and fraud against the government?
  • Should the PZB proceedings be stayed pending a federal grand jury investigation?
  • Should Florida and the federal government take the 70 acres, using Florida Forever funds, making it part of a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore?
  • There is an active bald eagle's nest.
  • Independent experts presented testimony and photos. 
  • Unrebutted evidence of bald-faced lies about bald eagles by D.R. HORTON, frequent St. Augustine Record advertiser, requires a swift response from state and federal prosecutors and other officials. 
  • D.R. HORTON deserves a swift kick in the pants. 
  • No response from HORTON or The St. Augustine Record as to the money spent on advertising with the St. Augustine Record, Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, and other MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS and GATEHOUSE MEDIA publications, 1999-2018.
  • City Code, like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, forbids "molesting" bald eagles:  
There has been a veritable demolition derby in St. Augustine and St. Johns County, with promiscuous destruction of historic homes and forests. Developers, Flagler College, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind have engaged in the willful, heedless destruction of historic structures and protected trees in the City. 

The clearcutting at the northeast corner of the SR 312 Bridge (Antigua) is an environmental disaster, destroying wildlife habitat to cram more homes on a clogged road. The addition of Fish Island would be catastrophic, destroying a beloved iconic viewshed. 

Florida Forever funds must be used to purchase and preserve the site of Jesse Fish's plantation home.

Watch three hour, 24 minute PZB hearing video here (Item 6A).

Read shallow Record articles below:

Officials (sic) behind the Fish Island development will have at least about a month to regroup.
On Tuesday, St. Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board dug into the details of the proposal to bring up to 170 homes on more than 70 acres off the Matanzas River southeast of the State Road 312 bridge.
Comments by about a dozen members of the public and board members left developers with a host of questions and concerns to respond to. The board voted to have another hearing on the issue at 2 p.m. Aug. 7, which City Code allows.
Among other things, board members want more details on the project’s benefit to the public, tree removal and preservation, a bald eagle’s nest on the property, buffers, public access to a dock, road and building elevations, rethinking the density of the project, the bulkhead’s effect on the environment, the traffic survey, the ability to use reclaimed water in the project.
At one point, board member Sue Agresta said she would only consider supporting the development if affordable housing was a part of it. The houses are expected to cost $300,000 to $400,000.
“There’s no real need and justification for this application,” board member Sue Agresta said. “There’s no real benefit for the city.”
Other board members questioned her suggestion, and board member Karen Zander said she didn’t see Fish Island as the right place for affordable housing.
Board member Grant Misterly cited concerns over the density of the proposal, which he described as essentially maximizing development “on a pristine piece of property.”
The meeting started in an unusual way, with board member Carl Blow removing himself from the discussion. He said he’d had a meeting with the developer and city staff that led to concerns about his being too direct or aggressive in his suggestions for the developer. While he wasn’t asked to remove himself, he chose to do so, City Attorney Isabelle Lopez. Blow did not provide details on the conversation.
Developer D.R. Horton plans to buy the property and wants to rezone the land from Commercial Medium-2, Residential General Office A and Open Land to Planned Unit Development. The developers also want the planning board to approve the preliminary subdivision plat.
The development would be gated and would have an amenity center, pool, parks and a dock with 70 private slips and five public spaces — the dock has already been approved in a court settlement.
The developer will have to use fill to bring the elevation of properties up to minimum heights according to federal flood zone requirements.
About a dozen members of the public spoke about the project, all either against the project or citing concerns.
Officials representing said the development will have fewer homes than what could be developed. Development rights as previously approved on the property, as part of an agreement between the state and the city and other parcels allowed for up to 455 homes in the area.
The development would also preserve remains of a 1700s citrus plantation in the area and preserve wetlands and a bald eagle’s nest.
With its location next to S.R. 312, some raised traffic concerns and questioned numbers provided in a traffic study for the development.
A traffic study in application materials said the Fish Island PUD would add about 126 vehicle trips during peak traffic time in the mornings on S.R. 312 and about 169 vehicle trips during peak traffic time on the road during evenings.
Joe Blewett, who lives near the site, said his only concern is traffic and that existing traffic in the area is bumper to bumper at times.
“My issue is not, per se, against the development, but it’s speaking for the quality of life for those of us that lived on the island, again, for many years,” he said. “I feel like that what we’re going to see with this increased traffic is a nightmare in the daytime.”

Land that included a citrus plantation centuries ago in St. Johns County could become part of a major development off State Road 312 on Anastasia Island.
The St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board will be one of the first stops for the proposed Fish Island Planned Unit Development, which would bring up to 170 single family residences off the Matanzas River near the southern side of the State Road 312 bridge.
The meeting begins at 2 p.m. today at St. Augustine City Hall.
The property is more than 70 acres, including some wetlands.
The area used to be home to Jesse Fish, who ran a citrus plantation on the land in the 1700s.
“The Fish plantation encompassed much of Anastasia Island and included gardens and groves,” according to city documents. Remains of the plantation would be preserved as part of the development.
Developer D.R. Horton plans to purchase the property and wants to use rezone the land from Commercial Medium-2, Residential General Office A and Open Land to Planned Unit Development. The developers also want the planning board to approve the preliminary subdivision plat. 
In addition to single-family homes, the development would have features such as an amenity center, pool, parks and a dock.
The dock has already been agreed upon as part of a settlement in circuit court, so that portion of the development isn’t part of the city’s consideration, said David Harrell, senior development review planner with the city.
The planning board could decide to have another hearing on the PUD and plat before making a recommendation to the City Commission, Harrell said. The City Commission will make the final decision on the development.
Harrell said there are no plans to build affordable housing in Fish Island. The homes are expected to cost $300,000-$400,000, according to notes from a community meeting on the proposed development. The houses would be up to 35 feet tall and one or two stories.
While it would be a gated community, members of the public could walk or bike to the site of Fish’s home, an archaeological site.
Portions of the development would be in conservation area, and the development has to meet a series of requirements to protect land, waters and wildlife.
About one acre of wetlands will be impacted by the development, and that would be dealt with by improving about an acre of wetlands, according to the city. About 23 acres of wetlands will be placed under conservation easement.
An abandoned bald eagle’s nest on the property will be protected, according to the developer.
The project has to go meet various requirements for stormwater drainage, and stormwater would go into several ponds.
The development would add cars to S.R. 312 and would have an impact on city resources. 
The Fish Island PUD would add about 126 vehicle trips during peak traffic time in the mornings on S.R. 312 and about 169 vehicle trips during peak traffic time on the road during evenings, according to a traffic study. 
Development rights previously approved on the property and other parcels allowed for up to 455 homes in the area.
While roads, park, sidewalks and other amenities within the development would be owned and maintained by a homeowner’s association, the development would use city utilities. The developers plan to dedicate utilities to the city.
If all goes as planned, the first model homes at the development would built in about two years. The development agreement would expire within 15 years of approval.

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