Advertisement
  1. Business

Former Rowdies owner Bill Edwards sues longtime friend and employee

Former Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is suing his longtime friend and employee Joseph Jimenez for allegedly using his position within Edwards' companies to secretly feeding developers with info
Bill Edwards takes questions from reporters after a news conference to announce that the Tampa Bay Rays were buying the Rowdies.
Published Feb. 14

Businessman and former Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is suing a longtime friend and employee, claiming the man used his position to secretly help and feed information to a competitor.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday by three of Edwards' companies, Big 3 Entertainment, Loan Ranger and the Bill Edwards Group, Joseph Jimenez is accused of supplying inside information to another business group for his own financial gain. The lawsuit was filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court.

Jimenez worked for the various Edwards companies for just under nine years before he resigned in January. Shortly afterward, "the companies learned of Jimenez's treachery," the lawsuit says. He is described in the lawsuit as a "friend" of Edwards' for more than 25 years.

Beyond previously owning the Rowdies, Edwards' companies also developed the Sundial shopping center in St. Petersburg and have ventures in security, music and real estate. According to the lawsuit, Jimenez was involved in all of it.

"Mr. Edwards had complete confidence in the man he considered a friend. Instead, for at least three years prior to filing this complaint, Jimenez engaged in corporate espionage," the lawsuit says.

Attempts to reach Edwards and Jimenez Thursday night were unsuccessful. A lawsuit represents one side's version of a dispute.

The lawsuit's central claim is that Jimenez was providing information to John Catsimatidis, the New York billionaire behind Red Apple Group. Red Apple is working to build a tower in downtown St. Petersburg.

According to the lawsuit, Jimenez secretly worked with Catsimatidis and Red Apple to give them access to a number of local movers and shakers to make the firm's development plans go more smoothly. This included people such as members of the St. Petersburg City Council and Bob Glaser, owner of the real estate firm Smith & Associates.

The suit also claims Jimenez helped Red Apple with its application to the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and negotiated an agreement with the TradeWinds Island Resorts on behalf of Catsimatidis.

Details of the alleged betrayal were found in emails the lawsuit says Jimenez deleted after he resigned from the companies.

The lawsuit also accuses Jimenez of recruiting Kyle Parks, who was advising one of Edwards' companies, for a public relations campaign to get the public on board with Red Apple's proposed project.

"We would want to tell the family story so that Red Apple is seen as a family, not a faceless company," the lawsuit says, quoting from what it says is an email from Jimenez to Parks.

Attempts to reach Parks and Glaser late Thursday also were unsuccessful.

These actions violated a noncompete agreement Jimenez entered with Big 3 in 2010, the lawsuit says. It prohibited him from working for competitors within a 75 mile radius of the companies' offices and from giving up confidential information or trade secrets.

His actions "put the companies at a competitive disadvantage in pursuing their development business, causing lost profits and lost opportunities," the lawsuit says.

Edwards' companies seek $20,000 for each alleged violation of the noncompete agreement, a permanent injunction requiring Jimenez to adhere to the noncompete agreement, damages and court costs, an injunction preventing Jimenez from divulging the companies' trade secrets and a jury trial.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, is in the center of legal a rent disagreement. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]
    The beer hall operators’ lawyers argue they weren’t properly notified when legal action began.
  2. Should we stop changing our clocks twice a year? CHARLES KRUPA  |  AP
    The Republican senator, along with Sen. Rick Scott, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act earlier this year.
  3. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N. in St. Petersburg features the store look being deployed across the country. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store had been closed for about two months during its makeover.
  4. The view looking northeast from the balcony of the penthouse at One St. Petersburg that was flipped for a $1 million profit in October. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    October home sales included one of the priciest condos ever in the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Tampa resident, Ann Turner Cook and Mike Dermo, vice president of field sales for Gerber Products Co., celebrate Gerber's 80th anniversary at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in 2008. Times (2008)
    Widely known for appearing on baby-food jars, Cook taught for 26 years before retiring to become a mystery writer.
  6. Zum driver Stacey Patrick, right, waves goodbye to student Saahas Kohli, left, and his mother, Alpa Kohli, obscured behind her son, as he returns home from school in Saratoga, Calif. A handful of ride-hailing companies have surfaced that allow parents to order rides, and in some cases childcare, for children using smartphone apps. The promise is alluring at a time when children are expected to accomplish a dizzying array of extracurricular activities and the boundaries between work and home have blurred. But the companies face hurdles convincing parents that a stranger hired by a ride-hailing company is trustworthy enough to ferry their most precious passengers. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) BEN MARGOT  |  AP
    Ride-hailing companies resolve a dilemma many parents face: how to pick up your kids from school while holding a full-time job.
  7. Integrity Express Logistics, which is expanding its Tampa office, matches freight with trucks to haul it in 48 states and Canada. (DANNY JOHNSTON | Associated Press) DANNY JOHNSTON  |  AP
    The company plans to hire at least 50 more employees and to spend $230,000 on renovations and new office equipment.
  8. Bins filled with products move on conveyor belts at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Ruskin. Amazon just announced it will open a similar center in Auburndale, Fla. (Times | 2018) Tampa Bay Times
    The new center will span more than 1 million square feet and be No. 11 in the state.
  9. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
A shot taken on June 4, 2019 during the 12-week demolition of the Harborview Center which began in April on the corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue in downtown Clearwater. The project is a key part of the city's roughly $64-million Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment project. Will residents move downtown once it is done? DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    “It’s our biggest challenge,” one city official said.
  10. Although people with insurance pay nothing when they get their flu shot, many don’t realize that their insurers foot the bill — and that those companies will recoup their costs eventually.
    Federal law requires health insurers to cover the vaccines at no charge to patients, but the companies eventually recoup the cost through higher premiums.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement