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Longboat Key Friday, Jun. 29, 2018 1 year ago

Longboat Key settles forfeiture case

Longboat Key could recieve $30,000 as part of a settlement agreement with Wayne Natt, a Longboat resident who allegedly filmed people in his home without their permission.
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

The town of Longboat Key has settled its property forfeiture case against an accused video voyeur, accepting $30,000 in lieu of the actual condominium police said was instrumental to his criminal case.

Wayne Natt, who has pleaded no contest to 15 counts of video voyeurism, agreed to pay the town “in order to avoid further legal costs and expenses and the uncertainty of the outcome of the Forfeiture Proceeding and any potential related civil litigation,” according to an order accepted by the 12th Judicial Circuit Court on June 29.

Wayne Natt (left) and his attorney Michael Gelety

The condo at 623 Cedars Court is appraised at $170,850, according to the Manatee County Appraiser’s office.

Each of the parties agreed to pay their own legal fees in the case that was dismissed with prejudice, meaning this is the final judgment of the court and the lawsuit cannot be reopened.

Like all Longboat property owners, Natt is also barred from renting out any property on Longboat Key for less than 30 days and “will not use the Property for any illicit or illegal purpose, and he specifically will not film, record or photograph any third parties on the property, without their express consent,” according to the settlement.

Robin Radin, a Cedars East resident, said although the town settled the case, it leaves a precedent that could damage the Key’s reputation. 

“Whatever the financial gain, the precedent in terms of the town’s image and its disposition to pursue these cases of policing for profit would outweigh whatever financial gain and should be avoided at all costs in the future,” Radin said. 

The Longboat Key Police Department charged Natt with 15 counts of video voyeurism after it found cameras hidden inside his Cedars East home in September 2017. His sentencing for the criminal charges is scheduled for July 26.

In November, the Town Commission approved a lawsuit against the property Natt owned claiming it had been used as an instrument in the commission of a felony, permitting the Police Department, under the authority of civil asset forfeiture laws, to seize and forfeit his home.

This charge is not directed against the owner but the property itself. The owner must be charged with a felony and the property must be proven to have been used to commit the crime by a preponderance of the evidence. The validity of such a case is not dependent on a conviction.

Longboat Police have not exercised the right to seize property in the past decade, Police Chief Pete Cumming said months ago.

I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

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