The lawsuit arrived at the clerk's office in a large white envelope, looking like any other business dispute.
Plaintiff Alan Boyd Curtis, 58, complained that his partners cut him out of their Clearwater-based business, which marketed time shares online using the Web site TimeSharesQuickSale.com.
Filed Jan. 15 in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, the lawsuit had two unusual aspects: the impressive claim of $51 million in damages and the permanent address of its plaintiff: Jefferson Correctional Institution, North Florida, where Curtis is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and rape.
The lawsuit Curtis drafted on his own says almost nothing about his criminal history, mentioning his prison address at the very beginning and his Department of Corrections number, 459710, at the end.
But government public records and St. Petersburg Times stories start to fill in the gaps.
Curtis claims in his lawsuit that his business partners decided to cut him out when they met without him on Feb. 26, 2005. What he doesn't mention is that he would spend the next two years hiding from law enforcement overseas before finally being extradited from Spain on charges including rape.
His criminal history dates to 1982, when he was accused of killing a stranger in Largo with a three-pronged frog gig, according to a Times story. Before he could be arrested, Curtis fled out West and lived under an assumed name for 11 years, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.
In 1993, his wife at the time turned him in to authorities in Oregon and he was extradited to Pinellas County. In Pinellas, the victim's family began to visit Curtis in jail and, citing their faith in God, they came to forgive him, a Times story said.
The family members persuaded prosecutors to downgrade the murder charge to manslaughter.
Curtis ended up serving two years in prison from November 1995 to November 1997.
In 1999, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery and received a 20-year suspended jail sentence, with 10 years of probation. The court gave him permission to travel, including permission in January 2005 to travel to Thailand.
Two months after that permission to visit Thailand came through, a bench warrant was issued for Curtis on charges of kidnapping and sexual battery.
Authorities said he invited a woman from work out on a boat to go fishing. Ten miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, he threw her cell phone overboard and raped her. The woman jumped into the water, authorities told the Times at the time, and Curtis told her she could either get back in the boat or risk freezing, drowning or being eaten by sharks. He assaulted her again when she climbed back in the boat, the news story said.
When they got back to shore, the woman ran to report Curtis, but the next day, authorities believe, Curtis was already on his way to Paris.
Even after he was arrested there, Curtis managed to jump bail and flee to Spain, where he was arrested in February 2007. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Feb. 23, 2007. A jury convicted him on kidnapping and sexual battery charges and he was sentenced to life in prison.
But a life sentence couldn't stop Curtis from pursuing his business interests. He claims that on Feb. 26, 2005, his business partners — Amy K. Evans, Joseph Evans, Patricia Ann Curtis and Benjamin Wilber — decided they would manage the time-share company without him. They allegedly agreed to take his trade secrets, files and other materials and to cut him out of the profits.
Curtis claims in his lawsuit that the defendants misappropriated funds, assets and trade secrets and committed wire fraud, mail fraud and identity theft. Curtis also lists inactive corporations as defendants: Timeshares Quick Sale International LLC, Desync LLC and PS Sales and Management LLC.
None of the defendants could be reached Tuesday.
In his lawsuit, Curtis claims $35 million in damages from loss of income and interest, as well as another $16 million in "general" and "special" damages.
Curtis' chances of collecting those damages are unclear, but the Florida Department of Corrections policy on the matter isn't.
Spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff wrote in an e-mail that an inmate, before entering prison, must turn over the management of any business.
"He cannot be involved in the day to day operations," she wrote. "The inmate cannot receive checks from the business into his inmate bank account."
Jonathan Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.