JUDGE: Ex-Broward Health Chairman Cannot Recover Legal Fees From State

A Broward County Circuit Judge ruled former Broward Health Chairman David Di Pietro cannot recover his legal fees from the State Of Florida. In March 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott removed Di Pietro, spouse of Judge Nina Di Pietro, for interfering in a State investigation of contracting practices at Broward Health. Di Pietro sued to have the Governor's decision overturned. One month later, Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips ordered that Di Pietro be reinstated to his position. While Governor Rick Scott appealed the decision, David Di Pietro resigned from the post.

Di Pietro demanded the State pay the fees for his legal "dream team" (Bruce Green, Brian Silber, Jay Spechler and three lawyers from Di Pietro's firm). The six lawyers claimed they spent 367.40 hours working on the case. The bill for these six lawyers came to $155,036.24 including the cost of two easels and dry erase markers from Office Depot.

Published reports questioned the veracity of the billing. BROWARD BEAT reported on the billing from March 20, 2016. In a sworn affidavit, Attorney Brian Silber claimed he spent fifteen hours at David Di Pietro's offices. BROWARD BEAT wrote, "Silber said on his timesheet that he arrived at Di Pietro’s office at 10 a.m. on March 20, but it doesn’t say when he left. Having worked 15 hours, he got little sleep that day. Especially since he attended Lynch’s fund raiser in the late afternoon and his picture appeared on Lynch’s campaign Facebook page."

BROWARD BEAT reported Bruce Green and Jay Spechler attended the same fundraiser.

In May 2017, Judge Phillips ruled that while Di Pietro is entitled to legal fees, he cannot recover them from the State as he wanted. Phillips ruled that any fees would have to be recovered from his "employer" i.e. Broward Health.

Great news you say? Broward taxpayers are off the hook? Not so fast.

Broward Health, a.k.a. the North Broward Hospital District, gets its funding by taxing Broward residents.

Since the lawsuit, Jay Spechler has joined David Di Pietro's law firm. This means lawyers at DDP Law spent 162.90 hours on this case and at cost of $62,572.79. Will David Di Pietro see any benefit from the fees generated fighting claims he was interfering with an investigation of illegal practices at Broward Health?

Are Judge Nina Di Pietro & Kim Mollica Campaigns Working Together?

Pictures and videos emailed to judicial candidates allege the campaigns of Judge Nina Weatherly Di Pietro and Kim Mollica are coordinating their efforts. If true, this would be a major violation of judicial canons. The picture and short video show a volunteer handing a Di Pietro palm card while wearing a “Kim Mollica” t-shirt. The volunteer urges the voter to support Di Pietro “running for RE-election in group 7.”

The video was emailed to Judge Di Pietro and her opponent former Judge Ian Richards as well as Kim Mollica and her opponent Bradford Peterson. Two other judicial candidates received the email.

Earlier this week, a Judge Nina volunteer in Wilton Manors told REDBROWARD that Di Pietro was a Democrat.

The emailer has not replied to our request for comment.

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Young At Art Agrees To Put Lawsuit Against Broward On Hold

David Di Pietro, chairman of Young At Art, told County Attorneys the board voted to stay its lawsuit against the County while it negotiates a new deal. Di Pietro sent an email on Friday after he was notified YAA would be back on the County Commission Agenda.

Last week, County Commissioners blasted Di Pietro for filing a lawsuit against the County while trying to negotiate another deal for the troubled taxpayer-funded kids museum in Davie. County Attorney Joni Coffey called it “ridiculous” while Commissioner Mark Bogen signaled the County was ready to “go to war” if YAA did not come back to the table in good faith.

Di Pietro tried to blame the County for the hastily filed lawsuit. He claimed the museum had no choice because the County was ready to take control of Young At Art. However, REDBROWARD showed YAA insiders laid the groundwork for the lawsuit late last year.

It will be a busy week for David Di Pietro. Besides appearing at the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, he will likely be at early voting locations for his wife’s campaign. Judge Nina Di Pietro came in second to former judge Ian Richards in the August primary. Some courthouse watchers think the Republican darling Di Pietro is in some serious jeopardy of losing her seat on the Broward bench.

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