DON’T MESS WITH THE SUBWAY STORE OWNER!
A Florida real estate developer named Anthony Pugliese III is facing at least six months in prison under a plea deal. The deal resolves longstanding fraud charges associated with a building venture in Florida that Pugliese started with a Subway restaurant chain co-founder named Frederick DeLuca.
Pugliese, 68, chose not to stand trial and will instead be sentenced November 25 for his part in a complicated scheme to defraud DeLuca through fake companies and phony billings, to the tune of more than $1 million. Pugliese orchestrated the fraud along with his business manager, Joseph Reamer, 57.
The three men planned to construct a 41,000-acre green community project just south of Orlando. Dubbed “Destiny,” the environmentally friendly development began in 2009 as a collaboration between Pugliese and DeLuca. The community was planned for 64 square miles of Osceola and Indian River counties, but unfortunately, the arrangement fell apart — and so did the business relationship between Pugliese and DeLuca.
Pugliese and Reamer used bogus companies and phony vendor invoices to funnel money from DeLuca for a range of personal luxury expenses, including an outrageous $11,000 “moat-chilling machine” to cool the pond of Pugliese’s oceanfront mansion in Gulf Stream and keep its fish alive. As the relationship broke down, Pugliese and DeLuca started suing each other for more than $5 billion in civil court. State prosecutors got involved as well.
Reamer has pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud over $50,000 — he hasn’t admitted to guilt, technically, but Judge Kelley formally declared Reamer guilty and sentenced him to four years’ probation. Pugliese also pleaded no contest to the same charge of conspiracy, along with one count of grand theft of over $20,000.
All told, there were 18 charges dropped against Reamer and 17 charges dropped against Pugliese. If the cases against Reamer and Pugliese had gone to trial and they’d been convicted of all charges, the two men could have faced up to 290 years in prison. Pugliese is also required to pay more than $1 million in restitution to DeLuca.
Over the course of the extensive civil litigation battle, DeLuca’s attorneys won civil sanctions against Pugliese at least five times and exceeding $500,000, to cover legal fees and a host of other expenses. Between the jail time and the huge bills, this is one case where it’s clear that crime doesn’t pay.
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