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Council member dispute results in ‘cease-and-desist’ letter

By Staff | Aug 27, 2013

An accusation made/accusation denied dispute between Cape Coral council members Chris Chulakes-Leetz and John Carioscia has taken another turn.

Carioscia’s lawyers have sent a letter to Chulakes-Leetz, telling him to “cease and desist all defamation” of the District 2 councilman’s “character and reputation” or face possible legal action, including monetary damages and legal fees.

Chulakes-Leetz accused Carioscia of making a vulgar gesture at the July 24 city council special meeting called to discuss the Southwest 6&7 utilities expansion project.

Carioscia denied the allegation immediately after it was made.

Carioscia declined comment Tuesday, asking that all inquiries be addressed to his attorney, Scot Goldberg.

In a letter from Goldberg, of the law firm Goldberg, Racila, D’Alessandro & Noone, to Chulakes-Leetz, it said “Mr. Carioscia is an educated, respected professional in the community,” having served 35 years in the Chicago Police Dept. and as an employee of Cape Coral as a councilman and in the Community Service Dept.

“Mr. Carioscia has learned you have engaged in spreading false, destructive and defamatory rumors about him,” the letter continued. “We demand you (A) immediately cease and desist your unlawful defamation of Mr. Carioscia and (B) provide us with prompt assurance within 10 days that you will cease and desist from further defamation”

The letter warns that failure to do so will result in Carioscia seeking “monetary damages and relief,” against Chulakes-Leetz.

“This is a man who has a long history of helping people out in his community. When you make these allegations, something needs to be done,” Goldberg said in a telephone interview. “If he stops, the matter’s dropped. If not, then we will take legal action against him.”

The letter also cites instances, such as the next day, when Leetz made mention of the alleged incident on WINK Radio, and the morning after that in an e-mail to a constituent.

“He made the most vulgar gesture any man can make to another man. The key word here is man and (Carioscia) no longer qualifies as a man,” the e-mail said.

Goldberg said there was no vulgar gesture made from behind the dais and advises people to watch the tape.

“Anybody who looks at the clip would realize there’s no way this could have happened,” Goldberg said. “Even if it could have, Mr. Leetz was in no position to see what Mr. Carioscia was doing under the table.”

The two do not sit side by side behind the dais.

Chulakes-Leetz could not be reached via email or phone Tuesday afternoon.