Brevard County Commission Vice Chair Bryan Lober should have sought an independent authority’s review before he represented Commission Chair Kristine Isnardi’s husband in criminal court – even if it was legal, Merritt Island resident Phil Stasik told commissioners last week.
Lober has said his work defending David Isnardi had nothing in common with his legislative role alongside Kristine Isnardi – and thus posed no conflict of interest.
“Perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider some kind of independent oversight,” said Stasik, president of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance.
But while Lober and his colleagues may follow the letter of the law, Stasik said they need to be equally concerned with appearances of unethical actions. Such appearances lead to questions, he said, and that reduces the commission’s credibility.
“When there are questions, such as one commissioner’s interactions with another, an independent oversight or some kind of reference would be helpful in keeping everyone confident of the actions of the board,” Stasik said.
Sheriff’s records show deputies arrested David Isnardi, 59, of Olivia Street in Palm Bay, about 2 p.m. May 10 on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to possess two controlled substances – Oxycodone and Ethylone – with the intent to deliver them.
Lober, a Rockledge attorney, represented David Isnardi in a May 17 hearing before Circuit Judge Morgan Reinman, who replaced Isnardi’s no-bond status with $36,000 bail. Isnardi posted a bail bond later that day and was released.
Lober has said his limited service for Isnardi is almost over. He said Isnardi’s next task will be to hire a permanent defense attorney.
Lober chaired the meeting because Kristine Isnardi was away in Fort Eustis, Va., with her husband and family as one of her sons graduates from the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School.
Lober’s one last duty in the case is to make sure, face to face, that his client returns May 26 from the trip Reinman approved – or call the judge if he doesn’t.
Stasik was among a handful of residents who criticized Lober’s work for Isnardi. But he was the most diplomatic and Lober thanked him for that.
Stacey Patel, a Satellite Beach resident and chair of the Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee, said she was “particularly concerned” about Lober working for Isnardi.
“Especially at this difficult time, when our community is reeling from recent arrests, we would ask this body not only to follow the letter of the law, but to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Patel said, reading from a recent Democratic Executive Committee resolution.
Patel said her group is not alleging or implying Lober did anything unethical. But now, she said, there are “clear connections” and attorney-client confidences between David Isnardi and the commission. Patel also dredged up an unrelated incident, talking past the three-minute limit for public comment and Lober told her that her time was up.
But tenser moments were to come. David Kearns, a frequent critic of the Isnardis, accused Lober of violating Florida statutes that bar conflicts of interest.
Kearns, a former journalist who works as a Realtor in Indialantic, asked if Lober took a fee from David Isnardi, whether County Attorney Eden Bentley knew about it and whether fellow commissioners considered asking Kristine Isnardi to resign – but no one answered those questions.
Lober later presented a PowerPoint to dispute resident Robert Burns’ claims of racism in a prior criminal case, prompting Kearns to shout his anger from the audience. “You need to answer the questions I asked you, and not this smokescreen bulls—,” he said.
Lober responded by having a sheriff’s deputy escort Kearns from the meeting.
This was the second time Kearns was removed from a commission meeting since July.
At that meeting, he accused David Isnardi of trying to use his relationship with his wife to get re-employed as Palm Bay’s deputy city manager.