By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
BILLIONAIRE Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has launched civil action in a Florida court against the investigator hired by Save The Bays (STB) to uncover the alleged murder-for-hire plot that rocked the country last year.
Mr Nygard has filed a complaint against former FBI agent John DiPaolo, and his D&R Agency LLC for alleged racketeering, but the document names several others, including his billionaire neighbour Louis Bacon, as part of an alleged racketeering enterprise.
Four STB directors and a pastor filed a lawsuit against Mr Nygard and his lawyer Keod Smith in the Supreme Court last year, accusing the pair of allegedly orchestrating a two-and-a-half-year campaign of fear and violence to “kill or scare off” activists Mr Nygard saw as opponents to development plans for his Lyford Cay property.
The explosive allegations shocked the country in March when Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis’ names were mentioned in secret recordings between Mr Nygard, and two self-proclaimed gang members Livingston “Toggie” Bullard and Wisler “Bobo” Davilma that were filed in support of the lawsuit.
The Lyford Cay resident, along with his corporations Nygard International Partnership and Nygard Inc, filed a complaint of an alleged violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act in a southern district Florida court on January 5.
Mr Nygard claims that Mr DiPaolo, his firm, and others have banded together over the course of several years to cause economic injury to his goodwill, business reputation, properties and businesses in the United States, and for their own financial and other gain, both personally and professionally.
He claims that his brand and businesses have suffered damage through loss of good will, irreparable harm to their reputation, and lost business and money; and that his corporations have been damaged because of their inability to obtain appropriate financing as a result of the defendants’ actions.
Mr Nygard continued that a RICO enterprise was engaged in activities that affected interstate and foreign commerce; had prosecuted the plaintiffs and promoted articles in which the plaintiffs were required to expend funds in order to respond.
The complaint also alleged that, as a result of racketeering activity, witness testimony was influenced in violation of laws against perjury and bribery of witnesses; and against the transfer of funds from the United States to a foreign country with intent to promote perjury and other serious crimes.
Referring to the RICO enterprise, Mr Nygard’s complaint names Mr Bacon; Bullard; Davilma; Tazhmoye Lacy-Anne Cummings; Samantha Storr; and Philincia Cleare.
The complaint identified Mr Bacon as a plaintiff in legal actions that have injured, and are intended to injure Mr Nygard and his corporations.
It further accuses Mr DiPaolo and his agency of allegedly coaching witnesses to provide statements containing false information, for use in certain legal actions.
“Mr Bullard and Mr Davlima provided false statements for use in certain legal actions,” the complaint alleged.
“Ms Cummings, Ms Storr, and Ms Cleare are receiving money and other benefits in exchange for providing false testimony to be used against plaintiffs,” it was further alleged.
The complaint alleged that Ms Cummings, Ms Storr, and Ms Cleare have become co-conspirators with the defendants and others in the racketeering activity.
It quotes from a handwritten statement purported to be from Ms Cummings in February 2016, wherein she allegedly describes being offered full compensation and an opportunity to be relocated to California by a person identified as Mr Bacon’s lawyer.
Ms Cummings allegedly demanded $800,000 from Mr Nygard on the condition that she would not participate in the RICO enterprise, according to the complaint, which noted that Ms Storr and Ms Cleare similarly allegedly demanded $500,000.
Making his case for an alleged pattern of racketeering activity, Mr Nygard’s complaint read: “The pattern of activity is offering to pay, agreeing to pay, and paying witnesses, in connection with testimony or prospective testimony, including Mr Bullard and Mr Davilma.
“The predicate acts are at least two payments each made to Mr Bullard and Mr Davilma, beginning no later than February 19, 2015. The total amount of the payments was substantial, believed to be between $3 and $5 million.”
The complaint further alleged: “The source of the payments is believed to be Louis Bacon or entities controlled by him inside the United States.”
In the complaint, Mr Nygard alleges that Mr DiPaolo offered and agreed to pay both men, and personally paid them $50,000 in connection with testimony, and prospective testimony to be used against him.
He also said that Mr DiPaolo, and others acting in concert with D&R Agency, instigated and participated in the preparation of sworn statements containing false information regarding Mr Nygard, for use in certain legal actions.
The complaint outlined: three statements of Bullard made in Miami Springs, Florida on January 24, 2016; four statements of Davilma made in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 4, 2016; and a joint statement of both men made in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 4.
It further alleged that Mr DiPaolo and D&R employees instigated and participated in the preparation of a signed statement of Bullard made in Nassau, on February 19, 2016.
Mr Nygard alleged that the sworn statements included in affidavits executed by Mr DiPaolo in March contained materially false statements that were purchased with Mr Bacon’s “enormous sums of money”, specifically claims that Mr Nygard prepared a hit list to murder persons, and paid Bullard and Davilma to burn a shop and car.
Mr Nygard maintains that the predicate acts pose a threat of continued criminal activity due to Mr DiPaolo’s stated willingness to pay for “hard evidence” as reflected by its “value”.
The complaint further alleged that a woman, Richette Ross, who had filed a supporting affidavit of Mr Nygard in a case brought against him by Mr Bacon and others last year, was approached several times by Bullard and Davilma to walk away from her sworn testimony.
In one instance, Ms Ross was allegedly accosted by Bullard, who put his hand around her neck and told her that she should make herself scarce and accept money to walk away from the affidavit. At that time, Bullard allegedly confirmed that he had been paid by Mr Bacon since the saga between the two Lyford Cay neighbours began.
According to the complaint, Bullard allegedly told Ms Ross that he was employed by Mr Bacon to find women who would say they had sexual relations with Mr Nygard, and that he had treated them like slaves.
Bullard also allegedly bragged to Ms Ross about how he and Davilma, along with former FBI agents, set up Mr Nygard by recording private conversations, in which they “unsuccessfully tried to get Mr Nygard to endorse killing people”.
The complaint points out that Mr DiPaolo and a D&R employee were former FBI agents.
Mr Nygard noted that the claims were likely to have evidentiary support after reasonable opportunity for discovery.
The plaintiffs are seeking judgement in their favour as follows: the awarding of treble damages, attorney fees, interest and other relief provided by the statute; and preliminarily and permanently enjoining defendants from paying or conferring benefits upon prospective witnesses in proceedings involving plaintiffs; and other relief as the court deems just and proper.