Make us your home page

NexLube Tampa sued over split with one of its founders

TAMPA — One of the bay area's most promising energy companies has become embroiled in an ugly split with the founding engineer who helped bring NexLube Tampa here.

Enzio D'Angelo, 58, the former chief operating officer of NexLube Tampa, filed suit Tuesday against the company in Hills­borough County circuit court. He alleged that NexLube Tampa intentionally pushed him out of the company, broke its contracts with him and cheated him out of compensation and a share of the company. He was suspended on Aug. 20, banned from the premises and then fired on Sept. 16, according to the lawsuit.

NexLube Tampa alleged that D'Angelo sexually harassed and created a hostile environment for female employees, undermined and bad-mouthed management and created a "poor working environment and working conditions," according to the termination letter.

D'Angelo's attorney, Mark Osherow, responded in a letter to NexLube on Monday denying the allegations against his client. D'Angelo owned 1.25 percent of NexLube. By dismissing him, the attorney said, NexLube intentionally denied D'Angelo an additional 2.75 percent stake in the company.

"It is abundantly clear from the assertions made by NexLube that the purported termination is a vindictive action," Osherow wrote.

NexLube alleged that D'Angelo "only wanted to hire young women" and allegedly called chairman of the board Malone Mitchell III a "crook" who "stole the idea of the Tampa plant." Mitchell is the founder of the Texas-based Riata Corporate Group, NexLube's corporate parent.

NexLube president Monte Bell wrote in the Sept. 16 termination letter that the company had also discovered financial improprieties involving D'Angelo but did not detail them. Osherow wrote that those allegations were "meritless" and "potentially defamatory."

D'Angelo demanded that the company give him a 2.75 share in NexLube, pay him the $600,000 he said he's owed and legal fees. A NexLube official on Friday referred the Tampa Bay Times to Riata Corporate Group for comment. That company did not respond to that request.

D'Angelo, a Venezuelan-born engineer, spent years trying to build a state-of-the-art oil re-refinery in the Western Hemisphere. D'Angelo wanted to make technical-grade white oil, the purest form of oil possible. It's a lucrative, nontoxic oil used to make food and hygienic products.

But he also wanted to build an environmentally friendly facility that would produce few emissions or waste products. Five years ago, D'Angelo got financial backing from the Riata Corporate Group and together they built NexLube. In 2012, NexLube signed a 20-year lease with the Port of Tampa to build a $120 million plant. The re-refinery is set to open next year.

D'Angelo was traveling on Friday and said he could not comment until next week. In an interview with the Times in July, he explained how much the project meant to him.

"This is the culmination of my entire career," D'Angelo said. "At the end of the day, it's still a refinery. But it's a refinery that will do a cleaner job than anyone else."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, or @jthalji on Twitter.

NexLube Tampa sued over split with one of its founders 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags


    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]