HD 89 candidate Michael Caruso disputes past accusations of violence, financial delinquency – Florida Politics

HD 89 candidate Michael Caruso disputes past accusations of violence, financial delinquency

With just over two months before primary voters go to the polls in House District 89, a review of court and police records details troubling allegations against Republican candidate Michael Caruso.

Among those allegations are reports of domestic abuse, anger and financial issues. A source of several of the allegations (and a witness to others) is Caruso’s ex-wife Beverly.

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The most-detailed episode goes back to 2009, as Caruso and his ex-wife were leaving a concert in Jacksonville. The incident resulted in a restraining order petition filed by Beverly with the 15th Circuit Court in Palm Beach County.

Beverly alleges Caruso had been drinking at the concert and appeared drunk, slurring his speech and losing his balance. After the show ended, she says Caruso demanded to drive home from Jacksonville to Delray Beach.

“He got lost in a neighborhood off I-95 and became frustrated,” said Beverly in the report. She soon became more and more concerned for her safety. “He drove very fast on surface streets and went through two red lights. I began texting my girlfriend in Jacksonville about how frightened I was.”

She then says she asked Caruso to let her drive because “he had been drinking and was driving crazy.” Eventually, she tried to open the door to get out of the car, when she says Caruso “took off in the car and the car door slammed on my leg.”

Beverly alleges Caruso reached speeds up to 100 miles per while swerving. He then began screaming “I want a divorce” and “I want to make you suffer.” Eventually, she called the police, and together with a 911 operator was able to convince Caruso to pull over at a hotel.

In the subsequent restraining order petition, Beverly also checked a box indicating Caruso had “a history of mental health problems” and that he was “supposed to take medication for mental health problems.”

Those concerns were echoed when the couple filed for divorce in 2012. Beverly accused Caruso of having “severe emotional problems which consist of anger, rage and a history of physical and emotional abuse of one or more of the children.”

In fact, matters of child abuse date back to at least 2001, when Delray Beach police were called regarding reports of abuse from Child Protective Services. One of Caruso’s children was observed with welts on his “back, neck and face.”

However, as the police report notes, both the child and Beverly denied Caruso was abusive; ultimately, the case was declared “unfounded.”

Another 2013 report from Delray Beach police documents an altercation between Caruso and two of his then-adult children. A neighbor witnessed the three wrestling on the ground but did not know who started the fight.

Caruso’s son, John, said Caruso became aggressive when John expressed disapproval of Caruso’s then-girlfriend. Again, police did not find Caruso at fault and no charges were filed.

The couple’s divorce proceedings also contain accusations of Caruso’s financial delinquency. Those allegations did not come from his ex-wife, but rather from attorneys involved in the case.

Two separate court filings in 2013 and 2014 allege Caruso failed to pay attorneys’ fees adding up to more than $77,000 dollars. Caruso’s own campaign website touts his financial experience as a motivating factor for voters, highlighting his time working as a forensic CPA.

Florida Politics reached out to the Caruso campaign for comment on these incidents, but did not receive a reply before publication. The former Mrs. Caruso also did not yet respond to a request for comment. This article will be updated if any reply is received.

UPDATE: Caruso later gave an interview addressing these allegations. That interview can be found here.

Caruso is currently competing with Matt Spritz for the Republican nomination in HD 89.

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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