Sebastian City Vice-Mayor Charles Mauti has pleaded no contest in this morning’s court arraignment before Judge Nicole Menz.
Mauti took a plea deal, which remains confidential at this time. He will return to court for sentencing on August 12, 2020.
He was charged with Public Order Crimes after breaking Sunshine Laws during what citizens described as an illegal meeting on April 22, 2020.
The scheduled meeting on April 22nd was canceled earlier in the day by City Manager Paul Carlisle since Florida was still on lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was my mistake to convene the meeting on April 22, 2020, although I thought it was the right thing to do at that time. I am not an experienced nor a professional politician. My error was a novice, political mistake, one which I have learned from and will never repeat,” Mauti said in a statement.
During the April 22nd meeting, Vice-Mayor Charles Mauti entered the city chambers with Council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris and attempted to fire City Manager Paul Carlise, City Attorney Manny Anon, and the City Clerk Jeanette Williams. Then, they removed Mayor Ed Dodd and appointed Gilliams as the new Mayor.
Residents say it was an illegal coup to take over the City of Sebastian.
Here’s a video of the alleged illegal meeting:
At the meeting was Bob Stephens, Diana Bolton, and Bob Bedea, all directors of the Sebastian Property Owners Association (SPOA), where Damien Gilliams still serves as president.
The doors to the chambers were locked behind them. Mayor Ed Dodd showed up to let people know the meeting was canceled. Dodd said he knocked on the door several times, but the people in the chamber would not let him in.
After a few minutes, someone did open the door, and an argument ensued between Mauti and Dodd about the canceled meeting.
“We’re having our own meeting,” Gilliams allegedly told Dodd.
Dodd then called the police. As officers entered the chambers, the meeting wrapped up and Gilliams told Dodd “you’re no longer the mayor” as he walked out the door.
Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris are still under investigation by the State Attorney’s Office for their role in the April 22nd meeting.
Mauti, Gilliams, and Parris are still defendants named in a lawsuit for violating the Sunshine Laws. The litigation and expense could be passed onto the residents of Sebastian.
Former Mayor and Councilwoman Andrea Coy said she is writing to Sen Mayfield, Rep. Grall, and Governor Ron DeSantis to ask that all three be suspended pending the outcome of the State Attorney’s investigation.
“You cannot violate the Sunshine Law by yourself, so that means others are involved,” Coy said.