No decision yet on sanctions for Fernandina port operator
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Close-up magnifying glass place on wooden table and search to edge of white documents
Companies controlled by Chris Ragucci have a history of not complying with document production orders.

There’s no decision yet on whether there will be sanctions for the company running the Port of Fernandina for failing to turn over documents related to alleged nefarious activities involving the takeover of the port.

ASM Capital secured the services of Chris Ragucci for a business venture involving the ports at St. Marys and Fernandina. But in the process, the firm’s lawyers said Ragucci misled it and essentially stole the Port of Fernandina for himself.

ASM Capital and Sanford Scott and Co. originally sued Chris Ragucci and Worldwide Group in December 2019 in New York, but Ragucci and his businesses have a history of ignoring or fighting compliance orders to turn over documents, and that pattern reoccurred here. ASM chose to sue in the 4th Judicial Circuit in order to compel Ragucci’s companies to turn over the records.

“For four years, Ragucci served as ASM’s consultant and trusted agent,” read the application filed in Nassau County. “The New York action arises out of Ragucci’s theft of ASM’s business opportunity — the acquisition of the operating rights to the Port of Fernandina located in Fernandina Beach, Florida. (Worldwide Terminals Fernandina) is the current operator of the Port of Fernandina.

“WWTF is hardly a typical arms-length nonparty to the New York action. Ragucci, a named defendant in the New York action, is WWTF’s chief executive officer. He has never disputed his control over WWTF. Further, WWTF is the entity that was formed to help facilitate the investment project that ASM created and was entitled to participate in.”

ASM filed a motion for contempt in December 2021 because of Worldwide Terminals’ foot-dragging. WWTF had more time following a February hearing, but didn’t turn over many of the documents requested until March 14 and 18.

“I’m not going to tell you what to do or what not to do, but it seems to me like you haven’t been able to go through all the documents,” Circuit Judge James H. Daniel said to attorney Michelle Fox, who represented ASM in the hearing. “Let me say I know why you haven’t — it’s a lot of documents, and it’s been a week or two (since they turned them over), so I don’t have a problem with that. But, it just seems like from an efficiency standpoint, you need to have a grasp on what you feel is out there and still missing, if anything.”

Fox said she didn’t want this hearing at all, but Austin Calhoun, the attorney representing Worldwide Terminals, wanted to go forward. Calhoun, in the compliance document filed with the court March 18, requested Daniel close the case, which the judge said he isn’t close to doing.

“I certainly concede, and am happy to report, that we got the equity purchase agreement,” Fox said. “There appear to be all of the closing documents. There’s certainly a volume of email that were produced between WWTF and Compass Bank and Four Wood (Capital Partners) — things that should’ve been produced a long time ago. It’s great that we have them now.

“I won’t address attorneys fees now, I’ll leave that. I know your honor doesn’t want to do it piecemeal. As I stated, these are things — just very basic things — that we’ve had to now obtain, essentially, two court orders to get. And there’s some things that we should’ve gotten a year ago.”

Daniel instructed Calhoun and Fox to discuss between them when they’d like their next hearing — expected within the next few weeks — and to inform the court of that choice.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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