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, [email protected] 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. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report


    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  2. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  3. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month


    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  4. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts


    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.
  5. Amazing Lash franchise expands to South Tampa


    SOUTH TAMPA — Jeff Tolrud opened the doors to his third Amazing Lash Studio franchise earlier this month, this time in South Tampa.

    When customers walk in, the studios have the same look and feel throughout the country, operator Jeff Tolrud said of Amazing Lash Studio. Tolrud opened his third in Hillsborough County earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Amazing Lash.