Friday, July 20, 2018
News Roundup

Carlos Beruff fends off lawsuit amid campaign against Marco Rubio

Less than three weeks before the deciding moment of his fledgling political career, Republican Carlos Beruff is being drawn into a new lawsuit that alleges his home construction company pocketed thousands of dollars of deposits and violated federal housing regulations.

Beruff said the disgruntled customer who filed the suit knows he's in the homestretch of a campaign.

"It's all garbage," Beruff said. "Give me a break. This guy figures I am running for the United States Senate."

On Tuesday, Sarasota resident Conrad Zarris had his attorney file a lawsuit in the 12th Judicial Circuit in Manatee County. It says that Beruff's company, Medallion Homes Gulf Coast, refused to refund a $42,590 deposit he put down on a home he ultimately did not buy — a contract violation.

The lawsuit also says Medallion forced Zarris to use a specific title insurance company last year that is also owned partly by Beruff. That relationship was never disclosed, the suit charges. If true, that would violate federal rules that require home sellers to disclose their business interests when they refer a customer to a lending company or title company that is affiliated with them.

Peter Logan, president of Medallion, said that if Zarris couldn't get the financing for the home, he would have gotten the deposit back. He lost the deposit because Zarris, a real estate sales professional, failed to close on the property within 60 days even though he had been approved for financing, Logan said.

Zarris entered into a contract with Medallion on Oct. 26 for the home. On Jan. 22, Medallion sent Zarris notice that because he hadn't closed, the company would keep his deposit.

Logan said the relationship between Medallion and the title company was fully disclosed, in writing, and there are signed documents to prove it. He said Zarris was never required to use Sun Coast Title Co.

Beruff said in a separate interview that everything Medallion does is properly disclosed.

"We have forms for everything," Beruff said. "I'm 58 years old. I've been around this game for a long time."

But Dan McKillop, the Sarasota lawyer representing Zarris, said there was no disclosure "at the time of the referral" to Sun Coast — a key point he said the case will show.

He also disputed Beruff's claim that the lawsuit was filed because of his campaign for the U.S. Senate. On Aug. 30, Beruff is challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination.

"There is no political motivation," said McKillop, who noted he is a Republican.

Zarris, a registered Republican in Sarasota County, referred all questions about the case to McKillop.

McKillop said when he made his initial inquiries into Zarris' case, he did not know Beruff was even running for office.

Times staff writer Steve Contorno contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy Wallace at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263. Follow @jeremyswallace.

Comments
For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Rays come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Marlins. Here's the lineup for Tampa Bay, which dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami:Kiermaier CFHechavarria SSBauers 1BRoberts...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly lands Virginia Tech transfer

USF reportedly has added some offensive line depth, adding Virginia Tech transfer Thomas Hopple.It appears 247Sports had the story first. Hopple, not projected to be a part of the Hokies' two-deep chart in 2018, must sit out this season per NCAA tran...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

Pasco sheriff: Woman faked kidnapping attempt on her daughter to frame former business partner

HOLIDAY — The mother of a 12-year-old girl was arrested Thursday after authorities said she faked a kidnapping attempt on her daughter in an effort to frame a former business partner.Tammy Steffen, 36, is charged with child neglect, filing a false po...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

Watch: Florida woman brought to tears upon realizing she left her 8-month-old son in a hot car

A Volusia County woman was brought to tears Tuesday after she returned to her car to see her 8-month-old son still alive and healthy after she left him inside with the windows closed.Accompanying her baby, however, was a Volusia County deputy.Meagen ...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Authorities identify victims in Spring Hill shooting

SPRING HILL — Deputies on Friday identified three victims in a string of shootings Thursday that left the shooter and one victim dead.The shootings began in Hudson, where deputies said Theodore Antonia Parker, 59, shot at 44-year-old Tonya Haseman ar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Largo woman, rescuers save beached whale on Indian Shores

Times Staff Writer INDIAN SHORES — The sun had yet to rise. A strong breeze from the Gulf of Mexico cooled the otherwise warm and muggy Indian Shores beach. The surf was choppy Friday morning as Bonnie Charity began her daily walk, unlike some days w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Friday that his agency will not arrest a man deputies say fatally shot another man during an argument over a handicap parking space.The incident falls under Florida’s self-defense law known...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

TAMPA — When it comes to filling a ballpark, the Tampa Bay Rays are Major League Baseball’s perennial bottom-dweller. The team has finished last in average attendance the past six seasons at Tropicana Field. As of the All-Star Game, the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

Rays call up C Adam Moore to replace injured Wilson Ramos

The Rays made the easiest move to replace injure C Wilson Ramos, calling up journeyman Adam Moore from Triple-A.Moore, 34, has played parts of eight seasons in the majors, last with the Indians in 2016 and before that with the Mariners, Royals and Pa...
Updated: 3 hours ago