A dispute between the City of Corpus Christi and a New York business has landed in federal court, at least for the time being.
City Attorney Carlos Valdez said the Community Showcase Banner Company and its owner, David McCarthy, conned former Mayor Joe Adame into signing off on a deal last June.
That agreement allowed McCarthy to sell at least $150,000 worth of advertising signs that now cannot be used, according to Valdez.
On Friday, the City filed a request in district court to have McCarthy found in contempt and jailed for not returning the $150,000 he had gotten from local businesses as part of a citywide advertising campaign.
McCarthy had met Mayor Joe Adame last June at a conference, and had given the City an award. Valdez said McCarthy also got the mayor to sign some papers.
The mayor reportedly said he was just signing off on a deal to allow the company to put up ad signs around town at no cost to the City, but the City Attorney's Office looked over the paperwork and it requires the City to hang up the signs and maintain or replace them for the next three years; a deal the mayor is not empowered to sign off on. Only the City Manager or City Council can enter into such deals.
The City has been trying to stop McCarthy from selling anymore of the ads. They have also been asking him to return the money to the businesses who thought they were buying into good deal.
"He has sold banners to the merchants that will not be delivered, that cannot be delivered, that cannot legally be complied with, so he can't do what he said he was going to do," Valdez said. "So the next step is to give the money back. It's that simple, and if he were to give the money back today, this afternoon, that's the end of the case as far as we're concerned."
The City has 30 days to respond to the case being moved to federal court. Valdez said he has asked the district attorney to look at filing criminal charges in this case, and is also looking at getting federal prosecutors involved, since McCarthy seems to want the case in a federal court.
Either way, Valdez said this was simply a stalling tactic to keep McCarthy from going to jail.