Council Members accused of “illegal coup” in City of Sebastian

City of Sebastian
City of Sebastian

Sources say Damien Gilliams, Charles Mauti, and Pamela Parris may be suspended until the State Attorney’s Office has completed their investigation.

All City Council meetings are canceled until further notice.

The three council members, along with a few directors from the Sebastian Property Owners Association (SPOA), are accused of illegally attempting to take over the City of Sebastian during a coronavirus pandemic.

We were told this morning that the investigation is moving “very quickly.”

“The only persons who have acted with substantial defiance of, or resistance to, a lawful exercise of public authority have been the Former Mayor, the Former City Manager, Former City Clerk and Former City Attorney in crafting an attempt to circumvent the Sunshine Law and Charter by claiming to cancel a City Council Meeting under imaginary authority,” Gilliams said during a press conference on Thursday.

Last Wednesday, the people involved had an “illegal meeting” to fire the City Attorney, City Manager, and the City Clerk, according to Mayor Ed Dodd.

Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor, said the votes taken in the Wednesday meeting are invalid.

Fenster said having a meeting with insufficient notice with only the three members present and no means for the public to comment goes beyond the councilors’ authority, and the meeting’s actions are invalid.

The three council members also voted and named Damian Gilliams the new Mayor, a move that Dodd says was illegal.

Also, in and outside the chambers that night were at least three directors from the SPOA, in which Gilliams is still the president. Parris was the vice-president until December 2019.

Diana Bolton
Diana Bolton

Diana Bolton, SPOA Environmental Director, and self-proclaimed science researcher, was in the chambers recording the meeting.

Bob Stephens
Bob Stephens

Bob Stephens, SPOA Vice-President, was also recording in the chambers.

Dr. Robert Bedea
Dr. Robert Bedea

Dr. Robert Bedea, SPOA Director, who resigned from the Natural Resources Board after he was arrested for hitting a Sebastian Police Officer, was also at City Hall. Bedea is also running for City Council.

Others include Buzz Herrmann, a Director for Friends of St. Sebastian, who was also very supportive of Gilliams, Mauti, and Parris during their campaigns.

Bolton, Stephens, and Bedea also showed up during Thursday’s press conference with Gilliams.

The State Attorneys Office is setting up interviews to question everyone who was in and outside the chambers when the alleged secret meeting took place. Investigators also want all videos turned over.

Former members of SPOA have filed complaints with State and Federal authorities about their political practices that could violate their nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service.

“My husband Adam, and I, chose to resign our elected positions as Vice-President and Secretary, respectively. After Damien tried to coerce Adam into falsifying minutes of the April 2019 general meeting of SPOA, when he presented the minutes at the subsequent Board meeting,” Cindy Geesey told Sebastian Daily.

Geesey said Gilliams used the SPOA as a political action group for his City Council campaign.

Tracey Cole, a founding member of the political action committee formed to recall Gilliams and Parris from office, said the community would not stand for a takeover of the city by three rogue council members.

Cole’s group has been growing steadily since Wednesday at the Facebook page called Sebastian Voters Against Gilliams and Parris.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland, and grew up living on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Florida. He has been a radio and TV personality since the mid-1980s. He has worked for WFLX-TV (Fox 29), WIRK, WLIZ, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and others. In 1994, Andy took a break from broadcasting and was a software and systems engineer for various companies in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2002, he moved back to Florida and settled in Sebastian, where Andy's family has lived for over 45 years. He returned to the broadcasting sector in 2005. Andy joined Sebastian Daily as our editor-in-chief in 2016.