DeLand Florida -
High Taxes, High Crime, Crony Capitalism, Corruption 

Staff & Commissioners Work for Themselves -  Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

The Greyhound bus has left the station. And it’s not coming back unless the City of DeLand builds Greyhound a terminal office. It took the city over a decade to get its act together and construct the “Intermodal Transportation System” – an exaggerated name for an extravagant project of paved acreage, a metal canopy, and bathroom. The station, completed February 7, 2014, had no additional funds to construct an office for Greyhound, so at present the Two Million Dollar Boondoggle is used a few times a day for the county’s Votran bus; an outrageous waste of public funds.

        Now backtrack to 2012. If a governmental entity desires a private property for public use it has two options: (1) Offer to purchase the property outright or; (2) Invoke eminent domain and compensate the owner at fair market value.

        However the City of DeLand Staff, Commissioners, and Police had a third option: (3) Use military force to raid and destroy the property owners’ business, bankrupt the owners, and destroy their credibility. If the City of DeLand succeeded in this endeavor the owners couldn’t meet the mortgage and the bank would foreclose. City vultures could then swoop down and devour the remains - for a nominal price.

        Or without paying for the property, if CITY OFFICIALS were able to arrest the owners for criminal activity they could invoke a little known but much used law – “The Civil Asset Forfeiture Law.” And therein lay the perfect plan - almost.

        For five months city staff, their attorney, and police orchestrated a conspiracy of harassment, false accusations, and doctored videos in an attempt to destroy ARK, one of the most successful animal rescue organizations in Florida. After the raid city officials and their attorney lied in court against ARK. Ten months after the raid, still unable to justify what they did to ARK, city staff negotiated with the state’s attorney to indict ARK’s president for animal cruelty. The city needed ARK’s building for its bus station office – and then Greyhound could return to DeLand.

        The state’s attorney repeatedly asked the city attorney, Darren Elkind, for proof of animal cruelty. Repeatedly Elkind promised evidence was forthcoming and repeatedly failed. DeLand had no proof of animal abuse. It’s no wonder DeLand has no Code of Ethics.

     For almost a decade DeLand Staff attempted to build its bus station on South Woodland Boulevard adjacent to one of the most successful animal rescue organizations in Central Florida - ARK. 
     The city didn't have the money to build the station office so according to several city employees  "top officials" conceived the scheme to accuse ARK of illegal activity and shut it down. The Greyhound Bus Company said it would return to DeLand ONLY if the city built a bus station office and DeLand needs Greyhound. 
     Corrupt city officials theorized in secret that if ARK couldn't make the mortgage payments the property would go into foreclosure! Then the city could snap it up! 
     BRILLIANT IDEA CORRUPT CITY EMPLOYEES - but it backfired. Read the frightening true story at www.ARKvsDeLand.com.

ARK's Animal Rescue Facility


ARK Animal Rescue Center was adjacent to DeLand's planned bus station





DeLand staff and police, with military-style tactics, invaded ARK's Animal Rescue Center November 8, 2012. Located at 441 S Woodland Boulevard in downtown DeLand, the property was adjacent to the city's planned bus station. Staff knew the owners would never sell and the city wanted that property; it didn't have the money to build a bus station office and ARK's building would be perfect

     Staff figured if they destroyed ARK then the organization would be unable to make the mortgage payments and go into foreclosure.

     Under the guise of "animal cruelty" the city swept in stealing animals worth over $10,000, ultimately costing taxpayers over $20,000 for the illicit raid. Of course there was no evidence of animal abuse, thus the state's attorney refused to prosecute ARK.

     The city attorney, Darren Elkind, repeatedly perjured himself in court. The city lost as well as the taxpayers as did a hundred innocent animals. 

Dangerous: DeLand City Hall Staff, Commissioners, and Cops 

     Read the TRUE story at www.ARKvsDeLand.com

PAID OFFICIALS, TAXPAYERS' EMPLOYEES, INVOLVED IN THE RAID SHOULD BE FIRED: Michael Pleus, Dale Arrington, Darren Elkind, Matt Adair, Bill Ridgeway, Randel Henderson, Michelle Realander. Robert Apgar and Leigh Matusick refused to assist ARKCharles Paiva collected information for staff after the fact. They are disreputable, liars and cannot be trusted.


“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”  

– Adolf Hitler

Blood from kittens injured by DeLand cops during illegal raid
West Volusia Humane Society

Top: Blood left where police cruelly and roughly removed newly sterilized kittens from their kennel. Bottom: West Volusia Humane Society and one of ARK's stolen dogs

INDEX

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1    DeLand Crime Rate Higher Than National Average 

CHAPTER 2    DeLand’s Friendship with ARK’s President 

CHAPTER 3    Questions to Consider As Insanity Reigns in DeLand FL 

CHAPTER 4    ARK’s Rescue Center 

CHAPTER 5    ARK’s Success 

CHAPTER 6    The Conspiracy Unfolds 

     Scene 1 – 2011: The Treacherous Timeline 
     Scene 2 – DeLand’s Day of Infamy: The Violent Raid
     Scene 3 – City Staff Trash ARK’s Center 

CHAPTER 7    The Cast and Production - The Public Hearing 

CHAPTER 8    The Conspiracy Continues the Day After the Hearing 
     Scene 1 – 2013: A New Year Begins - The Witch Hunt Intensifies 
     Scene 2 – 2014: A New Year Begins - Mission Accomplished: GONE

The secret book kept by police against ARK's staff

The White Book the police secretly kept on ARK as they attempted to prove animal cruelty. They failed miserably.

INTRODUCTION


“For such is the malice of wicked men, the Devil’s instruments...that they cannot suffer anything...

to proceed and prosper....”  - Sir Anthony Parkhurst, Principall Navigations, 1589


If a governmental entity wants a private property for public use it has two options: (1) Offer to purchase the property; or (2) Invoke eminent domain in which case the property owner is compensated at fair market value.

     DeLand Florida City Hall Staff, Commissioners, and Cops have a third option: With military-style tactics raid the property in an attempt to bankrupt the owners, destroy their credibility, and have them arrested. The owners wouldn’t be able to make the mortgage payments, the bank would foreclose, and the vultures would swoop in to devour the remains. Or so they thought....

     Over a five month period city staff and police orchestrated a conspiracy of harassment, false accusations, doctored videos, and lies in court against ARK, a successful animal rescue organization. Ten months after the raid during which the city continued to have ARK’s president indicted by the state’s attorney, the case was closed: DeLand had no proof to back up its claim of animal abuse because there’d never been evidence to support its illegal and unjustified invasion in the first place. Is it any wonder then that DeLand City Hall doesn’t even have a Code of Ethics?

     Save for City Hall’s Staff, Commissioners, and Cops, DeLand is a unique community filled with wonderful people, culturally rich due to Stetson University and the city’s museums, artists, festivals, shops, and restaurants. Residents are determined to protect its “small town” atmosphere that harkens back to the late 1880s when DeLand was first known as Persimmon Hollow.

     But there is a dark side to DeLand, an underbelly rarely scratched and seldom revealed. The story told in the following pages exposes an undercurrent of corruption and abuse of power; of persecution for those who don’t step in line with city hall; of a city hall and police department with racist, sexist, moralistic undertones, and mean spirited employees. It is a town where public officials attempt to annihilate those who dare push back against the power brokers. It is a town that fights small businesses and new ideas and where city hall has its talons tightly and with agreement on the non-profit MainStreet DeLand Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the local newspapers the Beacon and the News-Journal; the interconnectedness alarming.

     Good leadership is lost as one city employee after another leaves for more peaceful fields, reasons not made public as they slip quietly away. People with integrity don’t want to work in the type of environment rampant at city hall; a workplace dominated by misogynistic and overbearing white males.[1]

     DeLand has serious problems. People are afraid to speak out. When a downtown commercial real estate broker confided in Maggi Hall, ARK’s President, with his and others’ litany of complaints against DeLand’s Staff, Hall questioned, “Why don’t you do something about it? City personnel are OUR employees. We pay their salaries.”

     His perceptive response, “They don’t see it that way. Look at what happened to you and ARK.” [2]

     Yes, let’s look at what happened to one of DeLand’s partnership with ARK and a respected community leader. November 8, 2012 the viciousness of city officials surfaced. Using taxpayers’ money city personnel set out to destroy ARK, the city’s venom no longer contained; a conspiracy costing taxpayers over $20,000 [3] and a determination by staff to put ARK’s President Maggi Hall, behind bars.

     As you read what happened to ARK, heed the threat of city attorney Darren Elkind to a prominent downtown merchant after the illicit raid on ARK: “If you ever harbor a sex offender you’ll get into trouble, too.” [4]

     The truth didn’t matter to Darren Elkind. For over nine months the city attempted to prove ARK “harbored a sex offender” and abused animals even though the city was bringing its animals to ARK and city staff and Hall were working together. That’s how bad the city wanted ARK’s property.

     City employees kept a book on ARK (above) ,[5] placed a bull’s eye squarely on Hall’s back; didn’t tell ARK volunteers they gathered unproven complaints from a handful of fired volunteers; never showed volunteers the few anonymous complaints “coincidentally” arriving within days of each other.

     ARK wasn’t harboring a sex offender on the main thoroughfare through downtown DeLand three blocks from the police station. Why hide a person legally working at ARK and who was unjustly accused 20 years earlier? In fact, as ARK’s Board knew he would be, the sex offender (not a sex predator) was removed from Florida’s Sex Offender Registry a month after the Raid.[6]

     ARK’s volunteers were Stetson students, lawyers, teachers, white and blue collar workers, and dozens of community service people the Court ordered to work off their redemption by contributing to society rather than vegetating in cells at the taxpayers’ expense. Indeed, ARK was not only saving animals; it was saving people as well. And in fact, educating future veterinarians as ARK established the first internship with college credit in Florida between a rescue group and a university - Stetson.

     Unable to prove ARK was harboring a sex offender, city staffers shifted to animal cruelty. Unable to prove either, their hatred so intense, their greed to own that property so vile, officials descended on ARK anyway.


Read "The Rest of the Story" to learn what city officials will do to get what they want: www.ARKvsDeLand.com.


[1] Former female employee who fled to another position in town; remains anonymous fearing retaliation, 3.1.14

[2] Remains anonymous fearing retaliation

[3] Documents obtained from city through public record request, 2.12.13

[4] Remains anonymous fearing retaliation

[5] The White Book against ARK and Maggi Hall maintained by the City of DeLand Police Department, 2012-2013

[6] Letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to Daniel Johnson, 12.21.12