TAMPA — The $240-a-night suite was registered to a "Ronald Mills," but the guest at a Hilton Garden Inn in Palm Beach County told staff to call him "Mr. Coffee."
Back in Tampa, he had a real name — John D. Stanton III — and a federal indictment was brewing.
Scenes of life on the run for the former president of Cast-Crete Inc. emerged Thursday at a bail hearing in federal court. U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli decided Stanton should remain in jail until a federal tax case against him is resolved.
The judge noted that while Stanton has no prior criminal record, he has a history of defying court orders, especially when he disagrees with judges.
"There would be nothing to prevent you from running," Porcelli said.
Stanton was captured at an Orlando hotel Sept. 7 after nearly 10 months of being wanted.
He was indicted Aug. 15 on one count of obstructing the IRS and seven counts of failing to file personal and corporate income tax returns from 2005 to 2007. He pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Federal prosecutor Robert Monk told the judge that Stanton is suspected of illegally diverting $43 million from Cast-Crete, a Seffner building supplies company, for his own use and for a company he controlled, Denouement Strategies.
Monk noted Stanton's age — he turns 64 today — and said he could face 12 1/2 to 15 1/2 years in prison, a "powerful incentive" for him to "run and hide."
Stanton is represented by a private attorney, Paul DeCailly of Indian Shores. DeCailly reminded the judge that Stanton has ties to the Tampa Bay area, including "lots of children." He described Stanton as successful and charitable, once a decorated Vietnam combat veteran.
The prosecutor and the defense attorney offered dramatically different pictures of resources at Stanton's disposal that might facilitate flight.
"Mr. Stanton's financial wherewithal is enormous," Monk said, pointing to past court filings.
DeCailly filed a bankruptcy petition Dec. 13 on behalf of Stanton. One document lists assets of $380 million, including a $5 clock radio and a nearly $242 million stake in Denouement Strategies.
That week, a judge ordered Stanton to jail for not supporting his ex-wife, to whom he owes more than $10 million. But Stanton could not be found.
DeCailly said Stanton's assets are under the control of the bankruptcy estate.
"He has nothing right now," DeCailly said.
Judge Porcelli asked about the summer's hotel bills, which Monk said exceeded $21,000.
DeCailly said the room at the Hilton Garden Inn was under the name Mills but stopped short of saying Stanton didn't pay for it, leaving the judge's question partly unanswered.
DeCailly noted, "There's a difference between a large hotel bill and $380 million."
News researcher John Martin contributed to this report.