TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Nick Diggli is being sued by his cousin and his family’s trash collection business for allegedly spending tens of thousands of dollars on political expenses, travel and a personal loan to a Clearwater company.
In two lawsuits, Decegli, a Republican from St. Petersburg, has been accused of “embezzling” funds while he was chairman of Solar Sanitation.
The most recent lawsuit, filed by Solar earlier this month, accuses DiCeglie of using $65,000 of company money to “pay vendors associated with DiCeglie’s political career.” This includes paying $2,500 a month to a consultant. Between 2015 and 2018. He spent more than $15,000 of company money on membership fees, including at the private Governor’s Club in Tallahassee, down the street from the Capitol, according to the suit.
The company is trying to recover the money. The lawsuits were first reported by The Florida Phoenix.
In legal filings, Disegli did not dispute some of the allegations. He has agreed to pay back some money, including $120,000 in loans from the company.
But he said the political spending was to further the company’s business, which relies on contracts with local governments in Pinellas County. For example, the $5,000 payment to lobbyist Alan Sasky in 2016 was to lobby the Legislature on an amendment affecting the displacement provisions for waste haulers, he argued in court.
Most of the spending predates Decegli’s political career, which began when he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2018. He was elected to the Senate last year, replacing Sen. Jeff Brandes, who was forced to step down because of term limits.
DiCeglie cited comments from his attorney, Richard Salazar, who characterized the lawsuits as a family dispute.
“Nick and his cousin are going through a business divorce, and like any divorce, each party seeks to take advantage,” Salazar said in a statement. “This is nothing more than a desperate, last-ditch effort to injure Nick at the negotiating table.”
Solar Hygiene was co-founded by Disegli’s father in 1980. A third stake in the company in 2008 or 2009, according to court records. His cousins, Anthony Dinardi Jr. and John Dinardi, each had a The one-third share that he inherited from his father. Dinardis also owns and operates a waste-disposal company in New York.
DiCeglie became the company’s president in 2011. His cousins ”have rarely participated in the management of Solar for the last 25 years,” he wrote in response to one of the lawsuits.
Although his cousin and company accused him of embezzling thousands of dollars, Disegli disputed the details of many of the transactions—and disputed—the basis of the lawsuit—that the money was spent to help his personal political career. was going.
“Mr. Disegli’s reason for joining politics was to benefit Solar,” one of his filings said. Between 2009 and 2013, he fought the Pinellas County Commission The decision, his lawyers wrote, would put Solar “out of business”, and he has remained active in politics ever since.
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The cousins accused him of hiring a political consultant for $2,500 a month from January 2015 to July 2018 “for the sole personal benefit of DiCagli in connection with his political career as a Florida legislator.”
DiCeglie responded that the consultant helped Solar with “an overall strategy for how to navigate the various municipalities in Pinellas County and the Pinellas County government.”
Membership of the Governor’s Club prior to his election, DiCagli wrote, “was to position their waste haulage contracts across the state with lobbyists and local elected officials, as well as gain access to storm debris trading opportunities.”
$1,500 was paid by Soler to the St. Petersburg Republican Club to sponsor the awards dinner, the lawyers wrote. The $669 charge at a downtown Tallahassee hotel in January 2015 was for the governor’s inauguration, when DiGegli “participated in several meetings with Pinellas County lobbyists to discuss their concerns with the hauler displacement statute,” according to his The lawyers wrote.
DiCeglie agreed with Cousins on some of his allegations. He wrote that he would pay Solar back for any payments made for rent on the Tallahassee house. He would pay $139.75 in 2015 for stays at the Main Hotel and $922.98 for stays at the Sand Pearl Resort in Clearwater that were not related to company business.
He disputed that his actions had caused losses to the company, and instead noted that the company’s revenue had increased by 33%, or $1.5 million, over the past five years. The company had a record revenue of $4.4 million in 2022 and is projected to take in $5.3 million this year.
DiCeglie stepped down from his position in February, according to DiCeglie’s most recent financial disclosures, but still owns about a third of the company’s shares, worth $1.75 million in 2021.