Sebastian businessman settles with state, set to meet creditors

SEBASTIAN – Businessman Damien Gilliams, who in August pleaded no contest to a charge of grand theft of state grant funds, said Thursday he has paid the money back in full.

Gilliams said he had always intended to pay the grant money back, but that it was tied up in another legal matter and his lawyer just gave him the go-ahead to pay the $68,000, which he says he turned over to his probation officer. “The funds were sent to me,” Gilliams said. “And I paid them back to the state in full. We came to an agreement and I released the funds in full.”

Gilliam said he received the grant money as part of a project to install septic pump-out stations at the Paradise and Flagship marinas, which he owned at the time. Gilliams said the money was sent to him as the owner of the property and not to the contractor, William Stamp.

Stamp had his own legal problems with the state regarding the grant work and Gilliams said he held on to the money until his lawyer, Nicole Menz, advised him to return it to the state.

Menze confirmed Thursday that Gilliams had told her he had paid the money back, adding that it was a condition of his probation.

Gilliams legal woes are far from over as he confirmed he is scheduled to meet with his creditors on Dec. 11 to discuss his filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last month.

Gilliams next challenge is to meet with a trustee from the court and his creditors of the Flagship Marina to see if a repayment schedule can be worked out. Gilliams filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the day the marina was to be sold in a foreclosure sale. He will be acting has his own lawyer in that matter.

The main creditor is Oculina Bank, which Gilliams says is hindering him from finding a potential buyer. Gilliams claims that Oculina Bank is circulating an appraisal lower than his $3.8 million asking price.

Gilliams said he may obtain a cease and desist order against the bank.

The bank’s lawyer was unavailable for comment.

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