Clear86° WeatherClear86° Weather

Federal agents freeze $15 million, seize property connected to Hernando Beach businessman

A spokesman for the Department of Defense said his agency was executing search warrants on the 5,197-square-foot, gulf-front home of David Young and his girlfriend.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

A spokesman for the Department of Defense said his agency was executing search warrants on the 5,197-square-foot, gulf-front home of David Young and his girlfriend.

HERNANDO BEACH — From half a block down the road, nearly a dozen federal agents crept toward the massive home near a bend on Gulf Winds Circle.

They wore bulletproof vests and gripped pistols strapped to their sides. One of them held a pry bar. Neighbors saw "FBI" printed on the backs of their jackets. Others had "IRS" patches on their sleeves.

As they surrounded the house Wednesday, its resident, David Young — a lieutenant colonel apparently in the Army Reserve, a significant donor to U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent and a man with a tainted legal history — pulled up in his Humvee. Soon after, neighbors said, he and the agents went inside.

Officials with the Internal Revenue Service declined to comment on the raid, but a spokesman for the Department of Defense said his agency was executing search warrants on the 5,197-square-foot, gulf-front home. At nearly the same moment, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah filed paperwork with the Hernando County clerk of court to seize 13 properties — valued from $148,500 to $520,000 — owned by Young's company, Hernando County Holdings.

The documents also showed prosecutors froze more than $15 million in 10 bank accounts held by the company. Along with Young, Carol Spada of Hernando Beach was named in the filings. State documents list Spada and Brenda Elias of Weeki Wachee as the company's managers.

Authorities impounded the Humvee and a convertible Jaguar parked in Young's driveway.

Officials wouldn't say whether any of the three had been arrested.

In an unrelated 2010 Hernando Sheriff's Office investigation into one of the company's maintenance contractors, Young explained how Hernando Holdings operated: He and a group of "soldiers and contractors from Afghanistan" bought homes together over the last two years. After the purchases, the group refurbished the houses, then rented them out to pay for the maintenance and property taxes.

"The company doesn't really make a profit," said Young, who called himself a "director." "It makes its profit on the sale after the recession."

Throughout the interview, he implied the group had properties outside Florida.

Neighbors say Young and his live-in girlfriend, Ashley Speck, were popular from the moment they moved to the area last year. The couple always stopped to chat, helped elderly folks with chores and even threw a party for the neighborhood just weeks after they arrived.

Most neighbors, though, knew little of Young's political and business efforts — or of his past more than 1,300 miles away.

Once and possibly twice, Young hosted political fundraisers at his home for Nugent. Since 2010, records show, Young and Speck have contributed nearly $10,000 to Nugent's congressional campaign.

On Thursday, Nugent said he didn't know Young prior to his campaign for Congress last year and had only met him through the fundraisers. The lawmaker noted that he knew nothing of any federal investigation into Young or Hernando Holdings.

"You never know what people do behind closed doors," Nugent said. "I never had any indication he was doing anything wrong."

The congressman said he knew little about Young's military career, business dealings or background.

Documents obtained by the Times indicate Young — a former state representative in New Hampshire — had practiced as a lawyer in that state until he was disbarred in 2006.

New Hampshire Supreme Court records say Young represented a female caregiver who allegedly had been attacked and sexually assaulted by a patient. The woman sued the company for which she worked and was awarded $85,000.

Young, the documents say, placed $15,000 of that money into his law office's operating account and designated it as "fees earned." He placed the rest in a trust account. Three weeks later, Young used $54,116.99 from the same account to pay another client. Also that day, he wrote a check to the woman for $17,300 and inscribed on it "full settlement." When confronted later, Young alleged that the woman had lied about the sexual nature of the assault.

Between 2001 and 2006, Young had been reprimanded three other times for similar complaints by the court's discipline committee, according to a 2006 article from the Associated Press. The story also said that at the time of his disbarment, Young had been working as a lieutenant colonel in the special services reserves and was soon scheduled to leave for Iraq.

It's unclear if the legal troubles had an impact on Young's military status. Young, whom the Times was unable to contact on two occasions this week, told a reporter last year that he had served four tours in the war on terrorism.

Others involved with Hernando Holdings, including Elias and employee Robert Martini, declined to comment on the situation when contacted this week. Attorneys with the Hogan Law Firm, which represents the company, did not return a message left Thursday afternoon.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and photographer Will Vragovic contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1432.

Federal agents freeze $15 million, seize property connected to Hernando Beach businessman 09/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 11:36pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...