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Lee County board to review findings in Stilwell inquiry; Available as of Sept. 30

By Staff | Sep 18, 2008

A report from the third-party investigation into Lee County Manager Don Stilwell’s alleged land dealings with son-in-law Samir Cabrera will be available for commissioners at their Sept. 30 meeting. 

The investigation was conducted by Fort Lauderdale-based CPA and certified fraud investigator Michael Crain.

Crain was hired by the county to determine if Stilwell lied to commissioners about his involvement with Cabrera.

In a Wednesday e-mail from Lee County Attorney David Owen to commissioners, Owen said documentation relating to the report would not be made available until the meeting. 

“No documentation will be released to anyone prior to the meeting when it will be presented to you,” Owen wrote. “After receiving the presentation from Mr. Crain, the board may then discuss how it would like to proceed after receipt of the information.” 

At issue is Stilwell’s statements to commissioners regarding Daniels View, a property located off Daniels Parkway and Interstate 75. The county was eyeing a possible extension of Three Oaks Parkway, which would run through Daniels View. 

Stilwell told commissioners on Feb. 26 that he was a mere “passive investor” in the project, despite having a $200,000 ownership stake. 

Stilwell stands by his claim that he did not lie to commissioners, saying he had no involvement in Daniels Views except for a second mortgage. 

Commissioner Brian Bigelow repeatedly called for Stilwell’s resignation prior to the decision of pursuing a third-party investigation. 

Bigelow said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he thinks the damage has already been done, regardless of the report’s results. 

“If I’m a betting man, which I’m not, the investigation will reach no conclusions and the board will have to draw our own conclusions,” he said.  

Bigelow questioned the investigation’s true purpose, saying commissioners have the authority to make a decision on the county manager’s future. 

He added that he feels he already knows what the report — and the overall outcome of the Stilwell situation — will be.

“I’m getting the distinct impression there’s a foregone conclusion here that the county manager remains in office,” Bigelow said. “I’m actually resigning myself to accept that today, that way my expectations are not too high.” 

A federal grand jury indicted Cabrera on Aug. 27 on 12 counts of money laundering and fraud for allegedly bilking investors out of nearly $3 million.

He could face up to 190 years in prison if convicted of the seven counts of wire and mail fraud and five counts of money laundering.