Tulare City Councilman Greg Nunley threatened to have city employees fired, committed fraud in his business dealings with the city, and used his position on the Council for personal benefit, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed today, August 3, in Tulare County Superior Court.
Also named as defendants in the civil lawsuit are several companies owned by Nunley–Driven Construction, Great Valley Builders, Hidden Oak Development Company and Del Lago Place–as well as the city of Tulare and 50 possible co-defendants to be named later. The suit was filed by Visalia attorney Michael Lampe on behalf of David W. Frost, a retired lieutenant with the Tulare Police Department.
Lampe also represents fired Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley in his legal action against the city.
The bulk of Nunley’s wrongdoing, if the allegations are true, stem from his repeated avoidance of developer fees of more then $443,000 owed to the city. The agreements Nunley signed with the city date back as far as the last decade and continue until August of last year.
“… Nunley used his official position to influence, or attempt to influence, the City’s decision to immediately seek payment of these fees,” according to the lawsuit.
Fees due for the Oak Creek Apartments alone total $336,349. Other projects involved include Bella Oaks ($92,492 in unpaid deferred fees) and the Diamonte Project ($14,277).
Attorney Lampe declined to comment on the record for this story.
The lawsuit alleges Nunley first knowingly entered into a fraudulent contract with the city regarding his real estate holdings in March of 2016.
Just nine months before he was elected to the Tulare City Council, March 10, 2016, Nunley applied for a building permit for a 32-unit apartment building, the Oak Creek Apartments. On the application, Nunley listed himself and his wife as owners of the property. The property was in fact owned by Seminole 32, a limited liability company.
“This representation was false, and Nunley knew the representation was false at the time it was made,” according to the suit.
The developers fees–$336,249–remain unpaid, and the lawsuit alleges Nunley continues to use his influence at City Hall to avoid payment. Because Nunley and his wife do not own the land, any lien held by the city to recover the fees may not be enforceable.
City Manager’s Job Threatened
Nunley has threatened the jobs of three city employees, including Interim City Manager Willard Epps, the lawsuit says, the result of fallout from another entanglement with the city involving Nunley’s development projects.
City building inspectors apparently issued stop-work notices for a pair of homes in the Bella Oaks Subdivision on July 20 after Nunley and his project managers failed to request inspections necessary before work could proceed.
The move, the suit says, prompted Nunley to call Interim City Manager Willard Epps to demand the two city employees responsible be fired. When Epps refused, Nunley allegedly threatened to have Epps fired and replaced by one of his former employees who now works for the City of Hanford.
“Nunley’s threatened conduct is a blatant attempt to use his official position to influence, or attempt to influence, City personnel in a manner to his benefit at the expense of the general public and should be enjoined by this court,” the lawsuit states.
Finally, the lawsuit also accuses Nunley of failing to fully disclose his ownership interest in the Del Lago Place Tesori Subdivision when the Council was considering two year-long extensions of developers fee deferments on $1,048,622 in infrastructure improvement connected to the project.
Nunley was present during council discussions and commented during a public hearing on the matter. The action amounts to undue influence, the suit alleges.
“As an elected public official, Nunley has failed to exercise the powers conferred upon him with disinterested skill, zeal, and diligence primarily for the benefit of the public,” it reads. “As an elected public official, Nunley has used his position to advance his own private interests at the expense of the public. As an elected public official, Nunley has exposed the City to liability for harassing and threatening City employees.”