DELRAY BEACH — A man says he’s an HOA president at a public meeting, talks about everyone being “in favor” of a controversial plan for an apartment building — then winds up in jail because police say he wasn’t who he claimed to be.
Neil Carson, of Delray Beach, had identified himself on Aug. 9 as the homeowners association president for Andover, a gated residential community less than a mile from a proposed eight-story apartment development by Congress Avenue, police say. He approached the lectern and spoke for three minutes, praising the project.
“Everyone is really in favor of what’s happening in the area,” Carson said during the Delray Beach City Commission meeting last month. “And this project we feel will just add to the beautification of the area.”
“We are really in favor of this project.”
But Delray Beach Police say Carson was only pretending to be the HOA president — and lied to city officials during the official proceeding. He is a construction executive for a Delray Beach firm, Kaufman Lynn, which has done numerous housing developments in the city, according to the firm’s website.
The perjury claims centered around last month’s meeting in which city commissioners were discussing a proposed housing development that would include 271 residential units, more than 1,000 square feet of commercial space and a seven-story parking garage at 1625 Congress Ave., just south of Linton Boulevard and west of Interstate 95.
The project had already received pushback from the city due to its height and size. During public meetings, residents are allowed to speak on certain issues for a brief amount of time.
But since the meetings are considered quasi-judicial hearings, speakers are sworn in under oath by the city clerk before they can make their comments.
Just three days later, though, the law firm that represents Andover’s HOA wrote a letter to the city, saying Carson had lied and that he is not the president and is not even on the board of directors, according to the arrest report.
An attorney for the firm Sachs Sax Caplan later told a Delray Beach police officer that he had never even heard of Carson.
Carson serves as the managing director for Multifamily Development at Kaufman Lynn, according to the company’s website. Carson has worked in that role since 2011 and previously served as vice president of development at Silver Companies from 2002-11, according to his LinkedIn page.
Following the letter to the city, Delray Beach police began investigating the claims.
Then on Sunday, Carson was arrested on one charge of felony perjury for lying for making false statements during an official proceeding. Carson, 52, was released Monday on a $3,000 bond.
Breaking News Alerts
As it happens
Get updates on developing stories as they happen with our free breaking news email alerts.
Reached by the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday, he declined to comment. A representative from Kaufman Lynn also declined to comment.
Carson told officers that he “made a mistake” by saying he was president of the HOA and that he was nervous because it was his first City Commission meeting, the arrest report said.
Carson added he was “tired because he had a long day.”
Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia was stunned, saying she had never heard of another situation like this. When Carson spoke at the meeting, Petrolia said she had no idea he had misrepresented himself and took him at face value.
Petrolia said it was alarming because commissioners are “basing their decision on [people being honest] coming before them. Now we have someone that’s not saying the truth — is anyone relying on that and does that change the outcome?
“Do we have to go through this whole process again? That’s the thing that was most concerning with me with what transpired with the information. And that’s why we can’t have that happen. It can literally cause everything to have to be redone.”
In this case, the city commission voted on Aug. 9 to send the proposal back to the Planning and Zoning Board for further discussion, meaning the alleged perjury won’t cause the board to have to redo the proceeding.