Attorney to seek court contempt order against U.S. Rep. Buchanan

 

MANATEE -- An attorney representing Congressman Vern Buchanan's former business partner plans to seek a contempt order in court after the Sarasota Republican Monday missed a deposition in a business dispute.

Robert Stok , an attorney representing Sam Kazran, Buchanan's former business partner, said a contempt order is necessary because the congressman has repeatedly postponed the deposition, and has been filing frivolous motions as stall tactics.

"We've been trying to depose since January," Stok said.

The congressman's absence at the deposition Monday in Sarasota occurred because his attorney, Mark Ornstein, had suddenly taken ill, said Frank Killgore, an attorney who said he was a temporary stand-in for Ornstein.

Killgore described Ornstein's condition as "life threatening."

Kazran, who once was Buchanan's business partner in a Jacksonville car dealership, has alleged that the settlement of the business dispute hinged on his signing an affidavit.

The affidavit stated the congressman wasn't involved or aware of improper reimbursements that dealership employees got after contributing to Buchanan's campaigns, Kazran contended.

Buchanan, who is running for re-election, claims that Kazran skipped out on a $3 million loan.

Meanwhile, Buchanan also was slated to appear Monday at a campaign fundraiser held at the palatial Lakewood Ranch home of basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale.

Buchanan was expected, but had not yet arrived at the event when a reporter asked to interview him. Sally Tibbetts, a Buchanan spokesperson, referred questions to Killgore, but added, "Vern was available today, and he will be ready whenever the deposition is re-scheduled."

A reporter was refused admittance to the event.

Earlier in the day, Buchanan's Democratic opponent in the race for the 16th congressional district seat said he was disappointed in the incumbent's "unfortunate choice to refuse to participate" in the justice system.

Calling the matter "disgraceful" and "embarrassing," Democrat Keith Fitzgerald, a New College associate professor and a former state representative, added, "He sure told us what he thinks is important -- raising money is more important than answering questions about his conduct."

Last month, Kazran's motion to compel Buchanan's deposition Monday and Tuesday was granted "barring unforeseen illness, injury or other unforeseen circumstances," according to a recommended order submitted for approval to the court by Sarasota Magistrate Deborah A. Bailey.

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