The Saga of BlueWare in Brevard County

Early in 2012 former Clerk of the Courts Mitch Needelman made a decision to digitize ten’s of millions of old clerk of the courts documents that are in storage.  What still cannot be determined is why he decided to take such actions since these documents are very rarely accessed.  At the same time, scanning of much more needed current documents were backing up.

The BlueWare deal may turn out to be nothing more than a multimillion dollar waste of money that has been perpetrated on the people of Brevard.  The Florida Today has refused to do any kind of investigative reporting on this issue.  The only news organization that has been following this story is Brevard Times @ www.brevardtimes.com. and I applaud their excellent journalism on this story.

As the BlueWare deal continues, it stinks like ten day old fish.  Because this story has been going on for almost a year, with little or no publicity, I thought it would be a good idea to give readers a summary of what has been happening.  It’s a confusing story because of the many corporate names associated with BlueWare, cast of characters and the various conflicting amounts of money.  As soon as I receive updated information, I will post it on this website.  I have also referenced back to Brevard Times articles and others wherever applicable to validate the information and to enable you to obtain even more information.

What is BlueWare/BlueGem?
In electronic health care management company that scans and digitizes documents.  This company goes by many 10 different Corporate entities on the same day  (5/16/2012 Fla) BlueWare Cloud, LLC; Bluezen, LLC; Roseware, LLC; BlueWare Land, LLC; BlueWare DOD, LLC; Bluescan, LLC; BlueWare Eire, LLC; BlueWare, Inc.; BlueWare International, Inc.; BlueGem International, Inc.

BlueGEM is a subsidiary company of BlueWare that specializes in the public sector work (Government, Education, Medical) for digitizing massive libraries that are soaking up tax-payer money automatically by just existing.  BlueWare’s founders realized the massive toll this takes on the community and is offering an inexpensive, tested way to bring that money back into the community.

Cast of Characters:
Scott Ellis – Current Brevard Co. Clerk of the Courts (Elected 11/8/12, took office 1/2013) Mitch Needelman – Former Brevard Co. Clerk of the Courts Rose Harr – Sole shareholder & Chief Executive Director of all BlueWare or all “Blue” entities.
Matt DuPree – One time Lobbyist for Eligere & former business partner of Mitch Needelman
Nicolas G. Geaney – Former Managing Director of Blueware
Kaitlin Welliver – Rose Harr’s Daughter
David Welliver – Rose Harr’s Son and Project Manager
Sean Campbell – Mitch Needelman’s deputy
Mike McDaniel, Mitch Needelman’s Finance Director
Lynda Weatherman – President and CEO of the Economic Development Commission
Merrily Longacre – Clerk’s attorney
Mark Cook – Clerk’s Attorney’s
Deena Bringham – Former Clerk Finance Officer

The Saga Begins
As stated in the beginning, there is no clear understanding as to why Mitch Needelman, as the newly elected Brevard Clerk of the Courts made a decision to start digitizing old and rarely used outdated documents.  He stated “I would like to digitize everything.  The Florida Supreme Court has recently engaged in an effort to reduce paper and so should we.”   Needelman noted a gym in Titusville that is packed with Clerk records dating back to the 80’s and 90’s.  What he didn’t mention was that these records were rarely accessed.  Note that the argument for reducing paper is to avoid it’s use not to convert it once it exists.

March 20 – BlueGem invoices the Brevard Co. Clerk of the Courts for work performed.  This invoice was for various activities that would be itemized in the June 29th final contract.

April 6 - A cost containment contract is signed by Mitch Needelman and Rose Harr of Roseware.  Services stated in this contract is that Roseware will:
▪  Review all outside vendors on behalf of the clerk’s office
▪  Identify contract savings and cost reductions
▪ Enter negotiations on the Brevard Clerk’s office to implement immediate contract changes, cancellations or amendments to guarantee immediate cost reductions
▪ Once a new contract or service agreement is negotiated on behalf of the clerk’s office & a vendor contract is received for review by Roseware, a formal acknowledgment of gross savings or cost reduction will be submitted to the clerk.
▪ RoseWare LLC will invoice the Brevard Clerk’s office for an amount equal to 35% of the gross agreed upon savings or cost reduction as documented by the clerk’s finance dept.

In an article written by Matt Nye regarding this contract he states:

“The contract with RoseWare LLC is not uncommon – it’s a contingency style contract that pays RoseWare LLC 35% of any annual savings it is able to procure for the Clerk’s office by renegotiating contracts with vendors or finding other vendors that offer the same services for less.
What is highly unusual is the fact that the same day the contract was signed, the Clerk wired $100,000 to RoseWare LLC. My FS119 request for this type of information has thus far gone unfulfilled  but I was provided with information from another source that indicates the transfer was through SunTrust on April 6th, and I have the sequence number as well as the beneficiary ID, account number and routing number.
The contract clearly states RoseWare LLC will invoice the Clerk upon the conclusion of the renegotiated contract, and after the Clerk has analyzed and documented the savings RoseWare LLC is then paid. The obvious question is: HOW COULD ROSEWARE LLC BE ENTITLED TO $100K THE DAY THE CONTRACT WAS SIGNED??? This would mean they would have had to document savings of $285,714 the day the contract was signed!”

April 18 – Scott Ellis issues a public records request to the Clerk’s office for any and all contracts signed with Blueware or any of their subordinates as well as a request to know if the contract had been bid.

April 24 – A public debate was held between Mitch Needelman and Scott Ellis at the Republican Women’s Club meeting.  Even though Mitch stated that he was not working with Matt Dupree or their lobbying firm, Eligere, he still had a hard time explaining why Matt was at the BlueWare offices all week.

May 3 – Mitch Needelman issues an Invitation to Negotiate. The ITN documents a ridiculous project timeline as follows:
▪ Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) issued: May 3, 2012
▪ Questions due to Brevard County Clerk of the Courts from Vendors: May 7, 2012
▪ ITN responses due May 11, 2012
▪ Vendor selection completed : May 16, 2012
▪ Initial project start date NLT August 1, 2012

May 4 – The Florida Governor’s office issues a press release announcing that BlueWare is relocating to Melbourne.
http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/05/michigan-it-company-takes-gov-scott-up-on-move-to-florida-proposal.html

May 11 – This following referenced document is BlueGem’s response to the Clerk’s Digitization Invitation to Negotiate (ITN). Note the lack of details or project milestones. After you’ve reviewed this take a look at the Fidelity response and note the differences.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/100298506/Digitization-ITN-Response-BlueGem

Fidelty’s response to the ITN from the Brevard Clerk of Courts received. Note the level of detail provided. Fidelity specializes in this type of work and has the references to prove it.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/100191521/Fidelity-ITN-Repsonse

May 14 – Copy of the BlueGem contract is sent to an outside attorney, hired by Mitch Needelman, for review.

May 14 – The EDC (Economic Development Commission) releases a press announcement that a Healthcare IT Company is to locate on Space Coast.  They state that the company was awarded:
1. State of Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund (QTI),
2. workforce incentives and a
3. Quick Action Closing Fund incentive to offset the costs of location, employee training and infrastructure.
The press announcement also stated that in order to secure this project they worked closely with the project partners that included:
▪ Enterprise Florida,
▪ Brevard County
▪ Brevard Workforce
▪ and the City of Melbourne to secure this project.

In return, BlueWare plans to hire 190 employees with an average wage of $69,000 over the next four years.
http://www.spacecoastedc.org/NewsRoom/NewsReleases.aspx?StoryID=07803e8cba5a4e699fc543ca23ab08aa&ModuleName=675

May 23 – BlueGem, an affiliate of BlueWare is awarded an $8.5 million dollar contract for 5 years.    This is the same contract that in a later debate Mitch Needleman denied existed or that even a contractor had been selected.  On this day a $500,000 initial payment is made to BlueGem.

Note of interest is that the second bidder came in at $2.9 million was all inclusive, and was a firm that had done court records before.  BlueWare/BlueGem has never done court records and their bid was for $8.5 million.

May 24 – The Constitutional Officer’s Forum is that evening.  During the course of the debate, Mitch Needleman stated that no firm (of the three respondents) had yet been selected or that they have even began to negotiate a contract.  Note that the ITN went out on May 3rd  and replies were vendor replies received by the due date of May 11th…. only seven days for a multi-million dollar contract.  It is suspected that during this time frame, the contract for BlueGem had already been prepared.  In addition Mitch insisted that his former partner Matt Dupree had not informed him about BlueWare and that he also had no knowledge if Mr. DuPree was working for them.

June 1 – Scott Ellis receives an email from Sean Campbell, Mitch’s Deputy, saying that as far as he knew, there wasn’t a signed contract and that the ITN was only an exploratory process to assess the feasibility of the project.

June 25  – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, BlueWare’s relocation to Melbourne is made possible by a partnership with Brevard County Commission, Enterprise Florida, Brevard Workfoce, city of Melbourne and the Economic Development Commission (EDC).  Some of the attendees were Lynda Weatherman, President & CEO of the EDC, Melbourne City Councilmen, John Thomas and Mark LaRusso.

June 26 – Scott Ellis files a lawsuit against Mitch Needelman, Brevard County Circuit Court, alleging that Needelman was refusing to provide him with public records related to the document-scanning contract.

June 29 – The final contract with BlueGem is signed and an additional $50,000 is wired to them from the Brevard Clerk of the Courts.

June 30 -Dave Berman of Florida Today, reports on the lawsuit filed by Scott Ellis in which he is requesting copies of invoices for monies already paid BlueWare, contracts with individuals such as Tallahassee attorneys and PR spokesman and the bids returned from companies on the imaging contract..
www.floridatoday.com/article/20120701/news05/307010042/ellis-Needelman-odds-over-contract

July 3 – Scott Ellis acknowledges receipt of a copy of the contract that notes a pricing schedule that extends payments form the Clerk’s office over the next five years for a total of $8,520,000.00:

May 2012:                                         $500,000 contract guaranty payment
June 29, 2012:                                 $50,000 contract signing payment
July 1 – Nov 1, 2012:                      $250,000 total (5 monthly payments of $40,000)
Dec 1, 2012 – Nov 1, 2013:          $1,440,000 total (12 monthly payments of $120,000)
Dec 1, 2013 – May 1, 2015:          $2,610,000 total (18 monthly payments of $145,000)
June 1, 2015 – May 1, 2017:       $3,720,000 total (24 monthly payments of $155,000)

http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2012/07/clerk-of-courts-digitizing-contract.html

July 9 – The Clerk’s office uploads months of BlueWare’s financial data.

July 21 – Another article by Dave Berman appears in Florida Today where he writes that Scott’s questioning of the BlueGem contract is nothing more than a spat between the two candidates.  An accompanying video has Mitch taking the Florida Today on tour of the Parkway Records Center (a dead file area) claiming that the facility is “full”, “we’re booked” to justify the BlueGem contract.

July 23 – The hearing of the court case brought by Scott Ellis vs. Mitch Needelman.  Scott Ellis is petitioning for access to a legal opinon letter from the law firm Krasny and Dettmer, P.A. regarding the contract between the Clerk’s Office and BlueGem LLC.  Judge Harris rules that the letter is exempt citing Florida State Statutes Section 447.605(23).   However the court does instruct the Clerk to continue to release other documents per state statute.  It should be noted that Mitch Needelman himself did not show for this court case.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/101128918/Ellis-v-Needelman-Order-120726

http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2012/07/needelman-wins-partial-victory-in-court.html

Aug 14 – Scott Ellis defeats Mitch Needelman in the Primary Election

Aug 30 – A former BlueWare employee files suit against BlueWare in Michigan court for breach of contract (non-payment of sales commission). He alleges “illegal, improper and/or illicit” business activities with a certain government official in the State of Florida and improper conduct engaged in by Defendant Harr in an attempt to procure a business contract and/or relationship with the county.  This official is identified as Brevard Clerk of Courts Mitch Needelman.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/105575323/Geaney-vs-Harr-BlueWare-Lawsuit

Sept 6 -   The Brevard Co. Clerk’s office review test images which are being done from a rental house located at Strawbridge & Oak.  It is reported that a very limited amount of work is being done.

Late September – Matt Dupree, is hired as VP for BlueWare.

??? QUESTIONS ???:
▪  Where is the Fl Today analysis of this entire bidding and award process?
▪  Why have the second and third bidders not been contacted for comment?
▪  Why has the Clerk not been asked to justify why BlueGem, at $5.6 million, is better than Fidelity,
another bidder which has actually done this type of work before?
▪  Why hasn’t anyone questioned Mitch on his claim that on May 24th no bidder had been selected while in fact a wire transfer had been sent the day before for $500,000 to BlueGem
▪  Why were electronic transfers, a total of $900,000 from March to June to BlueGem not uploaded into the Courts financial system until July 9th?
▪  Why hasn’t Florida Today written an editorial decrying the blatant disregard of the Clerk for the Florida Public Records Laws?
▪  Why did BlueGem get paid $500,000 on May 23 without a signed contract?  The Clerk’s attorney stated on the record in Court there was no contract signed on May 23rd, in spite of the fact a half million dollars was wired to BlueGem and the invoice and wire transfer receipt stated “Initial payment upon signing”?
▪  Why was Mitch Needelman in such a hurry to scan old, rarely used documents while ignoring his job responsibilities of scanning current documents?
▪  Why did he ignore using the much preferred RFP process (Request for Proposal) which would have received competitive bids from companies and go went straight to an Invitation to Negotiate?
▪ Referencing the ITN 2.2 Evaluation Criteria and Negotiating Process, it states:
–The vendor must be able to provide experienced consultants
Q: Who are the “experienced clerk Consultants” referred to in the ITN?
–The vendor must agree to provide a performance bond of $1,000,000.00
Q: Who insured BlueWare for Performance Bond?
–The vendor’s cost reply shall be for a milestone and deliverable-based fixed price solution.
Q: Why are there no state milestones in the contract?

For more details refer to:
http://government.brevardtimes.com/2012/07/contract-scandal-taints-florida.html

BLUEWARE – The Saga Continues Part 2

October -   In this time frame it is believed that companies were being pursued by Rose Harr to loan money to Brevard County.  Both IBM and Chase Bank refused but Hewlitt Packard started negotiations.  They too would have probably refused if they only knew the truth.  It was rumored that BlueWare was not only having trouble paying their payroll but they were late on paying expenses and owed almost every vendor they do business with from their landlord to their employment agency.

There is also reports of  numerous firings and people leaving BlueWare.  Someone who hired on as CFO lasted two days.  After looking at the financials on day one…they left on day two.

Oct 9 – Rose Harr is appointed to the Brevard Workforce Board of Directors.  Appointment approved by the Board of County Commissioners, Item III.C.3

October 17 – Kaitlin Welliver (Daughter of Rose Harr) issues a press release mainly stating that:
▪ The main deliverables described in the contract with the Brevard County Clerk of the Court stated that BlueGEM must provide improved accessibility of the community’s court records in an electronic environment and the ability to view the documents through a web-portal.
▪ The contract is set to 5 years and within the past 3 1/2 months, both teams (BlueGEM’s and Brevard County’s) have been working constantly in setting up the process.  The design phase is wrapping up and preparations for the production phase are underway.
▪ Before the end of the year, BlueGEM will have scanned 1.5 million documents of the county’s court records and have them accessible only.
▪ A permanent location is promised to be active in a matter of weeks and an open house is set for late November or early December.

This press release prompts an inquiry by the Brevard Times in which they ask the following questions:

1.  What is the current employment in BlueGem digitizing efforts and how/when will ramp-up occur?  Is it true that you are required to hire 192 workers within 24 months to receive Brevard EDC incentives?
2.  There was a claim that veterans would be hired.  How is that process going?  Is there specific system in place to connect your HR with veterans?  How many have been hired?
3.  There are claims that there has been a high turnover rate in your company as of late. Can you comment on the truth of these claims?
4.  Where is the new permanent site and what equipment purchases have been made for it?

Note:  The Clerk’s office replied that BlueWare would “respond in some capacity” by Nov 7.

Oct 23 – Hewlett Packard negotiates a deal with Brevard County in the amount of $6.1 million.  They send Joseph Caruso, the Clerk’s hired attorney, not a county staff attorney, the exact language needed for his opinion to bless this deal and the attorney collects $50,000 fee  for it.   A promissory note is signed and it indicates that the clerk’s offices will receive funds from HP for “essential” equipment.  There are some contradictory terms as the promissory note is called an “advance” and a “lease” while the payment direction letter calls it a “loan”.  However a loan would mean that Needelman unlawfully borrowed this $6.1 million from Hewlett Packard because it is stated in Florida Statutes that the clerk is not allowed to borrow money.   He then fronts Blueware $5.7 million for their five year contract.  Note that the price for digitizing these old records would be over 10% of the Clerk’s budget for five years.  ( We are still trying to confirm if the attorney got $30K or $50K).
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2013/01/former-clerks-digitizing-contract-under.html

Oct 24 – Mitch Needleman directs that the money be sent to three vendors each receiving a differing amount:
▪ BlueGem – $5,690,526
▪ Brunswick Companies – $209,474  (Still trying to find out what part did Brunswick play in this.)
▪ Hanover Insurance Company – $200,000.
The clerk is to pay $110,000 monthly to HP for the next five years at 3.55% interest.

Oct 27 – HP accepts the promissory note.

Oct 29-  An identical payment direction as listed on Oct 24 was signed by Needelman.

Oct 31 – Rumors indicate that no one is working at the rental house doing any scanning.  There are ads for scanning supervisors at $20K per year, a far cry from the $69K per year they promised.  Additionally their demonstrations for their latest software was canceled because the product is still not complete.

Nov 7 -  BlueWare misses clerk’s office deadline for response to the inquiries made by Brevard Times (see Oct 17).
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2012/11/blueware-misses-clerks-office-deadline.html

Nov 8 – Money from promissory note is dispersed with and money being sent directly to Blueware and by-passing the Clerk’s office.  (The exact amount is still trying to be confirmed.  Was it $5.7 million?, or 6.1 million?  Supposedly there was a million dollar discount given.)

Nov 12 -  Matt DuPree, VP of Blueware,  informs the Brevard Times that a building for $850,000 and equipment had been purchased.  The process would begin with documents being picked up in Titusville, delivered to Melbourne, checked and prepped and then scanned in and indexed by using the BlueWare software.  Remember, BlueWare was paid $500,000 back on May 23rd but up until this point, no work had proceeded.  He also states the scanning process will save the county money in other areas like free cloud storage.  The means that cloud (internet server) storage capacity for the scanned documents would include capacity for other County storage requirements).

Nov 16 – Brevard Workforce gives BlueWare $760,000 for job training.   Page 16 in the following:
http://brevardworkforce.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/3-Agenda-packet-111612.pdf

Nov 16 -  Brevard Times reports that no response was received regarding their questions of Oct 17.  A response from Katerina Hingis, a Public Records Research Clerk states that the the Clerk’s office may not compel contractors to respond to public records requests nor is the Clerk’s office the custodian of the what is requested.  Sounds like they were not only not compelled, but also not interested.
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2012/11/clerk-and-company-owner-mum-regarding.html

Dec 31 -   BlueWare was  required to hire 44 people by the end of the year then ramp over the next 12-24 months for a total of 192 employees.  Question, so just how many employees are there working for BlueWare?

??? QUESTIONS ???:  

▪  What is the status BlueWare’s special software that has been in development for over 3 years?  Why are the product demonstrations being moved out or canceled?
▪  Just where are BlueWare’s Corporate Offices?  They are as follows:
- Michigan:  A 1400 square foot house with 13 staff who work out of the living room
- Melbourne: A 600 sq. ft. rented office and a 1200 sq ft rented house that has a lease of 6 months
- UK a 220 sq ft office in an office park that has 67 other offices and where they have recently been evicted for back payment issues.  (See entry at beginning of Oct regarding this issue.)

 

BLUEWARE – The Saga Continues Into Year 2013

Jan. 1  – The million plus documents that BlueWare promised to have scanned by this time is only in the thousands.

Jan. 8 – Scott Ellis is sworn in as the new Brevard County Clerk of the Courts.  As Scott takes office, he finds that a lot of the office was scrubbed before he got there, even down to memory on copy and fax machines. In addition many documents were also shredded.  Why?

Jan. 10 – Scott Ellis & Bart Carmichael go to the offices of the EDC (Economic Development Commission) to get a copy of the BlueWare file.  This is so he could get an understanding on how the BlueWare deal evolved.  It is understood that some portions of the file may be confidential but the EDC locks down the entire file saying it was legal opinion that all was confidential for one year, sunsetting on 1/31/13,  and that Rose Harr could sign an extension for another year.

Jan 11 – The EDC receives faxed copies of the confidentially statements sent from England sent by Rose Harr.  One was dated Jan. 31, 2012  The second document was a letter from Harr requesting the extension for one year. After Scott Ellis’s visit did the EDC email these two agreements, one of which was backdated by a year, to Rose Harr?  Wouldn’t that then be wire or mail fraud?

Jan 17 – Bart Carmichael, from the Brevard Clerk of the Courts office, makes a formal email request to the EDC for the BlueWare file.

Jan 24 – Scott Ellis is given a legal opinion that those BlueWare files are confidential. Ellis produces email correspondence between Longacre, Mark Cook, BlueGem owner Rose Harr and BP of Finance Deena Brigham proving that they did indeed have knowledge of a contract prior to June 29th.  At the July 23rd hearing, Merrily Longacre denied any this information.
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2013/01/ellis-provides-emails-that-appear-to.html

Feb 1 – Knowing that the confidentiality clause would have sunsetted on Jan 31, Scott Ellis and Bart Carmichael return once again to the EDC.  They are given the two faxed copies that were received by the EDC from Rose Harr regarding the confidentiality of the deal.
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2013/02/ellis-and-weatherman-at-odds-over.html

Feb 25 – A letter is sent from Lynda Weatherman to Scott Ellis acknowledging that the EDC has been served a subpoena from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) regarding any of the BlueWare files and that they will be responding to them.
http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2013/02/space-coast-economic-development.html

Feb 27 – An invitation-only cocktail party “to get to know BlueWare/BlueGEM on a more personal note” was held.

Mar 14 – A public open house on Thursday March 14 from 10 am to Noon and from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Attendees will receive refreshments and a gift.  The public may RSVP to sales@blueware.net or call 321-953-5999.  BlueWare’s address is 202 West Drive, Melbourne, FL 32904

Even though I had made an appointment, I was asked if I was Pat Pasley of eyeonbrevard and after confirming that I was, I was then refused entry into the BlueWare open house.

Mar 20
– A letter is sent from the law office of Berger Singerman to Scott Ellis, Brevard Clerk of the Courts. They inform him that they are representing Hewlett Packard and demand that all amounts due which presently totals $332,328 be paid. They go on to say if payment is not received in 10 days, they have been authorized to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of HP.      http://www.scribd.com/doc/131966307/HP-Contract-Demand-Letter

Mar 29 -Scott Ellis files suit against BlueGem stating that on March 20, 2012 BlueGem sent an invoice to the former Clerk of the Courts, Mitch Needleman for services related to the evaluation of the Clerk of the Courts document scanning capabilities, its software and hardware needs, and personnel requirements. To the best of the Clerks knowledge, no contract was ever executed between the former clerk and BlueGem establishing a basis for payment of the invoice. The invoice from BlueGem also outlined several professional services that BlueGem was to perform including an oral report on all audits and activities.

May 3 – BlueGem files counter suit against the Brevard County Clerk of the Courts office for breach of contract requesting all costs, expenses and attorney’s fees and “amounts due and payable under the Scanning Contract and Amendment”.

May 15 – A letter is sent from Hewlett Packard Attorney, Charles Lichtman from the law offices of Berger Singerman stating, “Following your statement that software and scanning equipment underlying the promissory note was neither received nor being used by the Clerk’s office, we made further inquiries and learned that in fact, you had personally visited the site where the scanning equipment is loated and being fully utilized and that you and your staff continue to use the scanning equipment, despite your refusal to pay for it.” He further requests that Scott Ellis “advise us in writing” by May 24 whether or not Ellis would honor the promissory note.

May 3 – BlueGem files counter suit against the Brevard County Clerk of the Courts office for breach of contract requesting all costs, expenses and attorney’s fees and “amounts due and payable under the Scanning Contract and Amendment”.

July 23 – The law office of Berger Singerman, representing Hewlett Packard, files suit against the Brevard Clerk of the court for defaulting on payment under the conditions of the promissory note.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/156206546/HP-Lawsuit-Against-Clerk

Aug 15Mitch Needleman, former State Representative and former Brevard County Clerk of the Courts, arrested on bribery charges.

Also his former business partner, Matt Dupree, is arrested on charges of being a principal to bribery. A warrant is out for Rose Harr.

http://www.eyeonbrevard.org/2013/08/15/fdle-arrests-former-brevard-clerk-of-court-and-local-lobbyist/


Final Notes, thoughts and Questions:

- Quote from Scott Ellis: “The Clerk (outgoing clerk Needelman) unlawfully borrowed $6.1 million from Hewlett Packard and fronted BlueWare $5.7 million for their five year contract.  The $8.3 million for digitizing will be over, unfortunately with more than $1 million already gone down the drain.”

- The Clerk’s office also paid a performance bond for BlueWare to do the work and did so with a promissory note signed by the clerk.  It is unlawful for the clerk to borrow money.

- If BlueWare potentially received $4.3 million dollars from the State of Florida, Brevard County and city of Melbourne,  with various milestones that were to be met to get that money, why can’t the public see these transactions?  Even if it is withheld from the public, it still should be available to the clerk’s office who is administering the deal between this company and the office.   Shouldn’t the county commission, who voted to give them this money, be able to see the particulars of the deal?   The money has come down from the State of Florida and no information can be obtained either from the EDC or the State. If a company is awarded money from the state, county or city, all this should be public including their milestones.  Everything in the County Commission and in the Clerk of the Courts is public record unless it is involved with litigation in which case it becomes public after the litigation is over.

- Just because the clerk is independently elected it does not mean he has free reign to do whatever he chooses.  And although the County Commission fundamentally played no immediate part in all of this,  they may certainly ask how the taxpayers money is being spent.  Back in 2011, Scott Ellis asked the board to take a look at the money that they appropriated the clerk, practically 2 million dollars per year, and do a post spending audit, but that was never done.

- IBM and Chase Bank were the first two approached for the loan but each refused.  Finally Hewlitt Packard agreed.  After the Mitch lost the election, why were payments made on the contract before the payments were even due?   Would you pay your lawn service five years in advance with no agreement on the deliverables?

- BlueWare got a $5.7 million advance on the $7.5 million remaining.  The Clerk also picked up paying 3.55% interest on the note and the Clerk as customer paid for the Performance Bond for the vendor, Blueware ($200,000) plus the bizarre $200,000 payment to Brunswick.  (Still checking on what is Brunswick and what part did they play in this?)

- The budgets of the Clerks in Florida are heavily reviewed by the Clerk of Courts Operation Corporation before being sent to the Legislature for ratification.  Even then, the Legislature, not the CCOC, makes the final decision as to what county gets how much.

- At the November 2012 Brevard Workforce Board meeting, five people were approved as new Board members: “Motion to ratify the Executive Committee approval of Rose Harr of Blue Ware, Inc., Robert Bial of Professional Aircraft Inc., Mark Judge of Everest University, Amar Patel of Brevard Achievement Center, and Laura Canady of Economic Development for the City of Titusville as members”.  All of them except Rose Harr are now on the Board. Questions still remain about if she refused or did they drop her.

- Scott Ellis states that he refuses to pay HP for the loan because the whole transaction appears to be illegal and invalid.

To Sum This All Up:

It’s really not all that complex. This whole project had little or nothing to do with improving a process but rather it’s was all about money.  Now the county is out the money, HP is left holding the bag and those who came up with this scheme are laughing all the way to the bank.

Not that complicated……not that complicated at all.

COPIES OF DOCUMENTS
http://www.scribd.com/collections/3709463/Corruption-in-the-Clerk-s-Office-The-BlueGem-Saga

 

 

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17 Responses to “The Saga of BlueWare in Brevard County”

  1. Peter Fusscas says:

    Nice summation Pat. If FDLE does not lay down multiple indictments the floodgates of government corruption will be open to all in Brevard County.
    What is to discourage it?

  2. Wondering says:

    What precipitated the FDLE investigation? Why was the subpoena from the FDLE for the BlueGem EDC records made public to the Clerk’s office by the EDC? Does it have anything to do with the statement that any records in lawsuit are not public record? Since there have been so many different lawyers involved in all these transactions how can any one think that what has transpired is illegal? Prediction: FDLE investigation reveals all is within the law and the Clerk’s office owes HP back payments plus interest plus attorney’s fees. Big difference between ‘ethical’ and ‘illegal’.

    • scott ellis says:

      It is ILLEGAL for the Clerk’s Office to borrow money. Period. An $8.5 million contract was awarded for an at most $3 million job to a company which never before had done such work. Do that math.

  3. Richard McCoy says:

    On July 17, 2012 I submitted a letter to the Editor urging Florida Today that they had a huge story if they would just pursue it. The Florida Today has no one capable of truly doing an investigative report, and this investigation will snare bigger fish than just Needleman and Dupree if done correctly by FDLE. Great article and timeline it would behoove Florida Today to hire someone like you to who can actualy do an investigative story.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe these guy had the nerve to show up at the Florida Association of City Clerks convention looking for new victims.

  5. [...] of Brevard.  The whole thing is such a mess that The Eye on Brevard, a local blog, has dedicated a page to keeping up with the ongoing events and the “cast of [...]

  6. Anonymous says:

    Since June 1, 2013 – BlueWare hasn’t paid its laid off or regular employees in over a month. If their employees can’t make it in for longer than 3 days, they’re fired on the spot! Make matters worse, Harr, daughter, and Dupree headed off to Fiji from June 15-17, for Anthony Robbins Resort & Spa, (http://www.namalefiji.com/reservations.php)
    paid an upgrade to go to his house, and rubbed it in unpaid employees faces when she returned!

    • YOU are HARRTLESS says:

      What I cannot believe is that no one is investigating where the money came from to purchase the homes for Kaitlin and David Welliver, the children of Rose Harr.

      What about the trips that Debbie Caldwell and her husband took to London and Ireland for a month? Who paid for that? Tell us why was all those papers in your office being shredded none stop for hours at a time? Bags and bags being taken out to the trash of shredded documents?

  7. [...] of Brevard.  The whole thing is such a mess that The Eye on Brevard, a local blog, has dedicated a page to keeping up with the ongoing events and the “cast of [...]

  8. Ray Jamison says:

    BlueCompany defrauded J2 Systems in Boston, InterSystems, Boston and Qatalys, Inc. Dallas. Did not pay their bills and law suits in Michigan are pending.
    They cheat and absolutely don’t care about others money.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hewlett Packard is suing Brevard County.. Looks like Rose is Scott free.

    http://cpnews.brevardtimes.com/2013/07/hewlett-packard-sues-brevard-clerk-of.html

    Amazing!!

  10. Pat Pasley says:

    BREAKING NEWS
    FL TODAY:Mitch Needelman arrested on bribery, tampering charges

    Sanz said Needelman entered into a $8.53 million contract with the company with the agreement that a portion of that money would be funneled back into his reelection campaign.

  11. Pat Pasley says:

    breaking news: FDLE

    In addition to Needelman and Dupree, an arrest warrant has been issued for BlueWare CEO Rose Harr, 55, also on bid tampering and bribery charges.

  12. Michigander says:

    Wow …….what a mess!!

  13. Pat Pasley says:

    Lynne Bumpus-Hooper says:
    August 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    News Release

    August 15, 2013
    State Attorney Phil Archer Announces Arrest
    Of Former Clerk, State Representative, on Bribery Charges

    Former Brevard Clerk of Courts and State Representative Mitch Needelman was arrested this morning on charges of bribery, bid tampering, and official misconduct, State Attorney Phil Archer and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Director Cindy Sanz announced during a news conference at the Viera headquarters of the Brevard-Seminole State Attorney’s Office. Sanz is the director of the FDLE Office of Executive Investigations in Tallahassee.

    The charges stem from a year-long FDLE probe. Needelman, who was arrested by agents with the Office of Executive Investigations, faces an additional charge of conspiracy to commit bribery.

    State Attorney Archer said his office assisted FDLE throughout the probe by subpoenaing information relative to the case and providing statutory information as requested, a function the office provides for all law enforcement agencies.

    “This partnership allows professionals to do the job they are trained to do, free from any outside alliances or influences. It benefits both agencies by allowing prosecutors to concentrate their efforts in the courtroom while experienced law enforcement agents investigate and uncover the facts and evidence,” Archer said.

    Archer said he assigned his office’s Economics Crimes attorney, Assistant State Attorney Laura Moody, to the case along with Chief Trial Attorney Bill Respess. Chief of Operations Wayne Holmes assisted FDLE in analyzing material gathered by agents and recommending the appropriate corresponding charges and will be assisting in the prosecution.

    Additionally, a colleague and former business partner of Needelman’s, Matt Dupree, was arrested on charges of being a principal to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and principal to bid tampering. There is one warrant still outstanding in the case, Archer said. FDLE will be providing additional details in a later news release.
    Lynne Bumpus-Hooper

  14. GreedySin says:

    Excellent reporting! The detailed back story helped to weed through the mess of the situation. It’s disheartening and disgusting to know that unassuming employees jobs and livelihood have been affected by this culture of greed and unethical behavior. Hopefully, all that are guilty will receive more than a simple slap on the hand and some fines.

  15. Pat Pasley says:

    -NOTICE-
    I received a letter from the law Office of Mark L.Horwitz dated August 21, 2013. Mr. Horwitz, who represents Rose Harr, wrote that certain comments
    posted by someone posing as Rose Harr and referencing the Eye on Brevard
    article “Saga of Blueware in Brevard County” falsely attributed remarks to
    Rose Harr. Mr. Horwitz further stated that the remarks were not made by
    Rose Harr nor authorized by Rose Harr. Upon receiving this notification,
    the referenced blogger comments were immediately removed. Eye on Brevard
    sincerely regrets that false comments were posted by someone appearing to be
    Rose Harr.

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