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Council member comments about recent allegations

By Staff | Jan 13, 2009

During a city council meeting Monday night, Cape Coral Councilmember Eric Grill made his first comment about the allegations that he took money for construction projects and never started them.
“I had contracts and I intended to honor those contracts,” Grill said during a break in the meeting.
He declined to comment further.
Grill did prepare a written statement to release if the other council members asked him to do so, but ultimately did not release it.
Lisa Johnson, owner of Tropical Twisters Gymnastics, filed a complaint against Grill and his company, Grand Cape Construction, in December stating that he took $50,000 to build a new gym but has not started work nor paid subcontractors for work they have done.
Honc Construction issued Johnson a lien on her property for $20,000 worth of clearing work on the land that has not been paid by Grand Cape Construction.
The complaint is being investigated by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson has also retained legal counsel and has said she intends to file a civil lawsuit against Grill.
David Malmberg, owner of Affordable Towing, also filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office earlier this month, alleging that he contracted with Grand Cape Construction in June for $15,000 to build a warehouse and no work has been done to date.
Meanwhile, the issue became a source of tension between one member of the public and some council members.
Councilmember Tim Day floated a proposal to discuss holding Grill harmless should he miss council meetings due to legal troubles. If a council member misses three meetings in a row, they can be removed from the dais.
Day’s proposal ultimately failed in a 4-4 vote, with Councilmembers Pete Brandt, Bill Deile, Derrick Donnell and Grill himself voting against it, and Day joining Councilmembers Dolores Bertolini and Gloria Tate along with Mayor Jim Burch in voting for the measure.
“That meeting was not to try Councilman Grill or have any sanctions against Councilman Grill, but merely to give him the opportunity to say something about the situation,” Day said. “I didn’t want it to appear to the general public that the council is not doing any thing about this.”
Lynn Rosko, a regular at city council meetings, took umbrage with what she called the attempts of some council members to keep the issue alive in the press. She pointed out that Grill has not been formally charged in any wrongdoing.
“I personally feel Mr. Grill has not been charged with any crime … and even if he were accused he’s presumed innocent until proven guilty. I find it very offensive council members are keeping this going in the newspapers,” Rosko said.
Another citizen, however, agreed with Day that Grill should take a leave of absence as another former council member, Mickey Rosado, did when he was accused of acting as a real estate broker without a license in 2007.
“Councilmember Grill, you’re a nice guy and everything but I’m tired of seeing you on TV, it’s never good. Maybe you should do the same thing (as Rosado did),” Joe Lantini said.
Other council members decided it was best for the city to stay out of the situation.
“If I were Mr. Grill’s attorney, I’d advise him to be mute. There’s nothing to be gained by injecting council into this,” Deile said.