Everglades City files civil suit against ex-mayor accused of embezzling funds

The city of Everglades City has filed a civil suit against former Mayor Sammy Hamilton, who is facing 16 counts of official misconduct and one count of grand theft , accused of misusing taxpayer dollars.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the city's outside counsel of Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A., seeks damages in excess of $15,000, not including attorneys' fees, interest and costs.

Filing of the lawsuit comes days after Collier County Circuit Court Judge Ramiro Manalich granted the defense's motion for a competency evaluation of Hamilton in the criminal case.

In case you missed it:Judge grants request for competency evaluation of former ex-Everglades City mayor

In this June 2013 file photo, Everglades City Mayor Sammy Hamilton reads the plaque he just unveiled, lauding his preservation of City Hall.

Hamilton, 85, was arrested July 16, 2018, in which he was accused of using his position as mayor to "deprive the Everglades City taxpayers" of $47,692.47 on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Attorney Christopher Lombardo met with a special agent from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after flagging several suspicious transactions in which city funds were being used for Hamilton's personal or private business expenses.

An arrest affidavit stated that those transactions included the period of Aug. 20, 2013, to Sept. 5, 2017, the date Hamilton resigned from office.

More:Applause at Everglades City Hall as Mayor Sammy Hamilton resigns

Among the personal business expenses were boat repair parts for the Everglades National Park Boat Tours, which Hamilton owned, as well as condominium complex that was under construction.

As the mayor, Hamilton exercised supervision and direction over all departments and was responsible for signing all warrants, checks or claims of payment.

Sammy Hamilton

Over the time in which Hamilton was accused of misusing taxpayer dollars, authorities accused him of not following the city's policies for expenditures, which included the requirement of city council approval when drawing funds from the city's treasury as well as the city clerk co-signing financial documents.

City Clerk Dorothy Joiner affirmed to authorities that she had not signed any checks in years.

Hamilton was released from custody on the day of his arrest after posting $90,000 bond.

Hamilton's attorney, Donald Day, filed a motion requesting a competency evaluation after noting Hamilton "has been unable to focus on the issues at hand."

The motion was granted last week.

Evaluations by Drs. Charles Ewing and Donald McMurray are due in the court on or before Sept. 16.

A status hearing on Hamilton's competency will take place on Oct. 4.