Jan 132017
 

Kathy Reitzel

by Dennis Reeves Cooper…….

Former Monroe County School District Financial Director Kathy Reitzel will finally get her day in court. Circuit Judge Mark Jones’ dismissal of her wrongful termination lawsuit in September 2015 has been reversed by the Third District Court of Appeal.

Monique Acevedo, photo Florida Dept. of Corrections

It was Reitzel who, in 2009, blew the whistle on former School District Adult Education Coordinator Monique Acevedo’s theft of $413,000 in school district funds during 2007-2009. Acevedo used her school district credit card to make thousands of dollars worth of personal purchases, including a satellite radio lease for her son, numerous airline tickets for her parents, a $1700 bed and the infamous “Ride Me Cowboy” adult play costume. She subsequently pled guilty and was sent to prison. Her husband, Randy Acevedo, who was Superintendent of Schools at that time, was also prosecuted and convicted of attempting to cover-up his wife’s criminal activities. He was sentenced to probation and was removed from office. Reitzel provided key testimony before two grand juries and was also a key witness for the prosecution at Randy Acevedo’s trial.

In June 2009, the School Board renewed Reitzel’s contract. However, in September 2009, she was suddenly fired. She filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in February 2010. Judge Jones threw that suit out of court in September 2015. She appealed that ruling in November 2015. The reversal of that order was announced this week, January 11, 2017 by the appeals court. This clears the way for the case to go to trial.

Chief Judge Mark H. Jones

According to the appeals court announcement, Jones’ order was reversed because issues of material fact exist– whether Reitzel voluntarily decided to retire and whether the School Board had good cause for her termination. In her lawsuit and appeal, she argued that the School Board had no reason to fire her and that she signed retirement paperwork under duress.

Read the Court of Appeals Order below:

Download (PDF, 66KB)

 

See more of Dennis Cooper’s reporting on Kathy Reitzel’s fight to have her day in court below:

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Dennis Reeves Cooper
IN THE PHOTO: DENNIS REEVES COOPER PH.D AND BILL O'REILLY. Dr. Cooper founded Key West The Newspaper in 1994 and published the paper for 18 years, until he retired in 2012. In 2001, Key West Police Chief Buz Dillon had Cooper arrested and jailed, alleging that Cooper had violated an obscure state gag law when writing about a police investigation. The journalist-arrested story hit the national news and Bill O'reilly called and invited Cooper to appear on his show on Fox News. Dillon was also invited to appear, but refused the invitation. O'Reilly suggested that Dillon was "hiding under his desk." The ACLU also called and offered to sue the City of Key West on Cooper's behalf. Subsequently, the gag law was declared unconstitutional and the City settled out of court for $240,000. Also, the arrest was a factor in the creation of an independent police oversight board-- the Citizen Review Board (CRB)-- by Key West voters in November 2002. By that time, Buz Dillon had been unceremoniously fired.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------More Articles By Dennis Reeves Cooper prior to November, 2014.

  4 Responses to “KATHY REITZEL WILL GET HER DAY IN COURT”

  1. Hooray for Kathy–and Justice. Saved by a Higher Power from a rare error by Judge Jones.

  2. State Attorney Dennis Ward called me a day or so after Judge Jones had sentenced Monique Acevedo to 8 years in prison, and told me that, in his past, Judge Jones had a wife do something to him sort of like what Monique had done to Randy Acevdeo. I said, maybe that is why Judge Jones gave Monique more years in prison than you were offering her? And why he put Randy on probation?

    Many Key West Conchs were outraged that Ward had prosecuted Randy, a Conch. Those Concha, and Harry Bethel, a Conch whose son Ward had put into prison for robbing other fishermen’s lobster traps, mounted a campaign to defeat Ward in 2012. Catherine Vogel swept Key West, as a result, and that’s how she became state attorney. Afterward, Bethel bragged about it online.

    Maybe Judge Jones felt so sorry for Randy that he could not bring himself to give Kathy Reitzel her day in court? Of course Reitzel was coerced into resigning. She was told she would be fired, if she did not resign.

    School Board member Andy Gruffiths told me himself that, upon learning what was going on with he Acevedos, thanks to Kathy Reizel, he himself went to the state attorney office about it. Griffiths also told me that he had to vote to fire Reitzel, because she had waited too long to blow the whistle.

    Really? Do ya think Reitzel knew what was going to happen if she blew the whistle? That she would be fired? Do ya think that might have caused her to wait to blow the whistle, until she herself was going to be made a criminal if she did not blow it?

    Do ya think Andy Griffith’s wished, and still wishes, Reitzel had never blown the whistle? If you know Andy, then you know that’s not a sincere question. Praise in public, criticize in private, is Andy’s mantra.

    Reitzel was Dennis Ward’s star witness. Without Reitzel, Ward would have had no case. Reitzel is why Randy got convicted by a jury of his peers for covering up for Moonique. Reitzel is why Monique then pleaded guilty, then her public defender Trish Gibson tried to prove Monique was bipolar and should get off light.

    I attended Monique’s sentencing hearing. I was convinced she was not bipolar, but was a drug addict with an attitude, who had been convinced by her lawyer and family and hired doctors to try to go the psychiatric route. I suddenly felt awful for Monique. Sentenced to prison. Sentenced to psychiatry.

    The next day or the day after, Dennis Ward called me to say Judge Jones had had a wife do something similar to him.

    Hell, the School Board should have given Reitzel a medal and a raise and a promotion. Maybe a jury will give Reitzel a good raise. She deserves it.

  3. I too am glad Kathy will get her day in court. I have always believed that Judge Mark Jones is an honest judge and certainly competent. Mistakes get made and summary judgments account for a lot of them. To win a MSJ (Motion for Summary Judgment) there can be no dispute of material facts which allows the judge to decide the case based on the law. Now there can be some dispute over interpretation of what a material fact is. If there is a dispute the summary judgment can not be granted. I would guess in this case the Judge wrote an actual opinion, but generally judges never write actual opinions. They write orders void of statements of fact or conclusions of law. Kathy had an attorney but many people appear pro se, representing themselves. This is a tip for any pro se litigant because this is not explained anywhere. If you lose a case and you appeal, you can’t actually write your initial brief off an order than has no justification for the decision. An order can not be appealed and you will squander your appeal right if you try. You must — within the 70 days allowed for the initial brief — file a Motion to Temporarily Return Jurisdiction to the Circuit Court wherein you ask the appeals court to do that and order the lower court to write an actual opinion with statements of fact and conclusions of law. Do not waste your time filing a motion for extension of time. The Motion to Return tolls the time for the initial brief until the Appeals Court gets the case back. Orders are dirty tricks played on Pro Se litigants all the time and are the favorites in foreclosure courts. I have written 3 legal texts, two on foreclosure defense including “Every Foreclosure is a Fraud” available on Amazon.com. 33040.mobi is a free telephone directory for Key West.

  4. Why has the School Board spent almost 8 years delaying this case?
    Why have they spent about $75,000 defending via delay?
    Do their legal advisors lead them to believe they can’t win?