Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater businessman agrees to repay woman whose money he managed

CLEARWATER — For years, Denice Galbreath tried to recover all the money she said a Clearwater businessman stole from her mother.

She called him. She e-mailed him. She went to his house. And when all of that failed, she reported him to state and local law enforcement officials.

Thursday, she got closure.

Stephen Ayoub immediately transferred $52,500 to Galbreath's mother. The rest, about $103,730, will be paid to Janis English in increments.

English, 67, did not come to the hearing. Galbreath came, but issued no comment. She sat in the first row of Circuit Judge Chris Helinger's courtroom and gestured the sign of the cross after the settlement was reached.

"This is the best chance she had, in our opinion, of getting restitution," said Alan Gross, her attorney.

It had been 52 months since English handed over more than a quarter-million dollars to Ayoub to pay her bills, keep her financial affairs in order and do anything else she requested.

Things started out well in 2005, Galbreath said. Ayoub paid all of English's bills on time. Then, in October 2008, one of English's checks bounced.

Galbreath said she asked, pleaded, then demanded Ayoub return the remainder of her mother's money, approximately $156,230.

According to court files, Galbreath, 45, and English met with Ayoub at his Clearwater home in October 2008, and he agreed to draw up a promissory note for that amount.

A Clearwater police investigation would later find that a Washington Mutual Bank employee "did notarize something for Stephen Ayoub but she did not notarize the promissory note shown to her.

"The notary signature and notary stamp had been removed from the document she actually notarized and Stephen Ayoub placed it in a promissory note and photocopied it, creating a fraudulent promissory note that appeared to be legitimate."

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies arrested him Jan. 22 on a third-degree felony charge of uttering forged bills, checks, drafts or notes.

As part of the deal, Helinger reduced that charge to providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation, a misdemeanor, and Ayoub pleaded guilty.

"It is obvious the state realized that they had no case whatsoever which is why they were so willing to grant a misdemeanor," said Ayoub, 58, the father of Safety Harbor Vice Mayor Joseph Ayoub. "They were going to lose … and they knew that."

Helinger withheld adjudication and sentenced him to a year's probation.

She tacked on another year's probation for an unrelated insurance fraud case. Court records show Ayoub tried to get Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. to reimburse him for nearly $700 in falsified charges he said he incurred after a car accident.

Pinellas sheriff's deputies arrested him Aug. 12, 2008, on a charge of false and fraudulent insurance claim, a third-degree felony.

Helinger reduced that to petty theft, a misdemeanor, withheld adjudication, and ordered him to pay $1,724 to Liberty Mutual, $500 in court costs and $25 in Sheriff's Office investigative costs.

But Ayoub, who pleaded no contest to the new charge, said the case with Liberty Mutual is "far from over."

"The insurance case was precipitated by a class-action suit that I was bringing against the insurance company, and there's still a civil suit that I filed against them that will be vigorously, aggressively pursued," he said.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at or (727) 445-4167.

Clearwater businessman agrees to repay woman whose money he managed 04/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 8:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party


    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Our president, our protests


    Our president has done more to foster national anthem protests than the protestors.

  3. Trump: Objection to NFL protests 'has nothing to do with race'


    MORRISTOWN, New Jersey — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but …

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but has to do with "respect for our country and respect for our flag." [Associated PRss]
  4. World War II vet, 97, takes a knee in support of anthem protests

    Human Interest

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation's attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.

    Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran's cap. [Twitter]
  5. Florida education news: Shelter duty, charter schools, teacher pay and more


    ON THE JOB TRAINING: Michael Vasallo learns how to run an evacuation shelter on his 21st day as principal of Dunedin Highland Middle School.

    First year principal Michael Vasallo, right, got called into hurricane shelter duty one month into his job.