SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is in the midst of another personal controversy that is reminiscent of his relationship several years ago with a stripper who used drugs.
A couple who rents a room in Nicholson’s home got into a domestic dispute there Tuesday night, according to a Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The husband, Kendel Surette, 32, was arrested on a charge of domestic battery against his wife, Valerie Surette, after deputies say he threw a screwdriver that struck her in the face. The two argued after he accused her of stealing his prescription medicine, the report said.
Nicholson, 71, said Thursday that the couple moved into his home on Tiburon Avenue in April or May. He did not check their backgrounds beforehand, but said he knew they had drug issues. Eviction paperwork in Pasco County indicates the couple had domestic disputes over drugs in the past.
Nicholson first met Valerie Surette at Icon’s Gentleman’s Club in Hudson, where she worked as a dancer, he said.
As in the previous case, Nicholson said he did nothing wrong. He has not been charged.
While they lived with him, Nicholson said, he drove the Surettes to a substance-abuse treatment program until the husband was thrown out for drinking. The wife is drug-free and no longer a stripper, he said.
Nicholson said he didn’t know what the couple was doing in their room but "if they were doing drugs, I was totally unaware of that.’’
When deputies came to his house Tuesday, Nicholson said, they questioned him about his own medical conditions and medications. Deputies told Nicholson they found drug paraphernalia on his dining room table, he said, but Nicholson didn’t know what it was.
Sheriff’s officials said the case is still open. They were not ready to release the incident report Thursday afternoon.
In 2015, a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement surfaced about Nicholson’s relationship with Kimberly Losurdo before his first election in 2012. Losurdo was a stripper with Calendar Girls in Pasco County. In a case that brought national attention, she was found guilty of child neglect with great bodily harm after a child in her charge ingested her crack cocaine and became ill. The report indicated Nicholson had sex with Losurdo, gave her money and food, and drove her around to "pay bills."
She was buying drugs on those trips, investigators found.
Nicholson apologized for his bad judgment. He was not charged and did not bow to pressure to resign, winning re-election in 2016.
On Thursday, Nicholson denied having a sexual relationship with Valerie Surette.
"She keeps me company,’’ he said. "I’m just a nice guy, so they just took advantage of me.’’
Nicholson has asked the Surettes to find a new place to live.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.