DELRAY BEACH — Just days after a man was arrested on a felony perjury charge for allegedly lying about being an HOA president, Delray Beach’s city manager addressed the odd situation, saying they were left with little choice but to press charges.
The details stunned city officials and government experts, who hadn’t heard of a circumstance where a city resident was arrested on the accusation of lying during a public meeting.
Delray Beach City Manager Terrence Moore said they were “surprised” after learning a resident appeared to have misrepresented himself during a City Commission meeting. Once the shock wore off and they analyzed the situation, they decided to press charges.
“Once a felony event is brought to light, we really didn’t have much choice other than to respond accordingly,” Moore said.
Moore said it’s “extremely important” that people are honest when they speak during these meetings because “it’s under oath as testimony to help the City Commission to make sound solid judgment informed decisions. Honesty is extremely paramount and utmost in case of deliberations.”
Eugene Steinfeld, a former Margate city attorney with decades of experience, said he has “just never heard of [anything like it].” Steinfeld, who is not involved in the case, added, “No one has ever been as blatant [about it] that I’m aware of, and I was a city attorney for 38 years.”
[ RELATED: A Delray Beach man lied about being an HOA president during a city meeting, police say. He’s now been arrested. ]
The resident in question, Neil Carson, has pleaded not guilty to the perjury charge, and will have his next court hearing in October, records show. Reached by the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday, Carson declined to comment.
During a City Commission meeting in August, Carson spoke in favor on a controversial plan for an apartment building, claiming to be the president of a homeowners association near the project, police said.
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 meeting. “And this project we feel will just add to the beautification of the area.”
“We are really in favor of this project.”
As it turned out, Carson was not the president of the HOA, police said. He is a construction executive for a Delray Beach firm, Kaufman Lynn, which has done numerous housing developments in the city, according to the company’s website.
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Just three days after the meeting, an attorney for the HOA, Andover, 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, police said.
The problem for Carson was that since City Commission meetings are considered quasi-judicial hearings, speakers are sworn in under oath by the city clerk before they can make their comments. In a police report on the case, police cited how he was under oath when he made his comments.
The city had passed the information on to Delray Beach Police, who then investigated the allegations, leading to Carson’s arrest on Sunday.
Carson has retained local attorney Leonard Feuer, who specializes in cases involving the government. Feuer previously represented former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie and State Rep. Emily Slosberg in high-profile cases.
In 2021, Haynie pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors that accused her of making four improper votes as mayor to approve projects that benefited Boca’s largest commercial landowners.
Slosberg avoided prosecution on two misdemeanor charges connected to a 2019 trespassing incident at her former Boca Raton residence.
Attempts by the South Florida Sun Sentinel to reach Feuer were unsuccessful.