Judge finds Fernandina Port operator in civil contempt
Image via Worldwide Terminals.

ASM Capital is to schedule a hearing with the judge to determine Worldwide Terminals Fernandina's fine.

The tendency of Worldwide Terminals CEO Chris Ragucci and his companies to delay and not turn over documents — even in face of court orders — resulted in a state circuit judge finding Worldwide Terminals Fernandina in indirect civil contempt.

The finding stemmed from the company not turning over documents related to Ragucci’s takeover of the Port of Fernandina. Worldwide wholly owns Worldwide Terminals Fernandina and Nassau Terminals, which runs the Port. Ragucci also serves as CEO of Worldwide Terminals Fernandina and Nassau Terminals.

ASM Capital secured the services of Ragucci for a business venture involving the ports at Fernandina and St. Marys, Georgia. 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. sued Ragucci and Worldwide Group in December 2019 in New York. They chose to sue in the 4th Judicial Circuit in order to compel Ragucci’s companies to turn over the records. ASM believes Ragucci essentially stole the Fernandina Port from under it while ostensibly working for ASM.

“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.”

Circuit Judge James H. Daniel found that Ragucci’s lawyers’ arguments didn’t hold up compared to previous statements and documents in hand.

“Where the court finds the delay becomes willful is in the Respondent’s insistence that these documents were not in its care, custody, or control because it was wholly owned by World Wide Terminals, LLC, and Petitioner had to look to that entity, rather than Respondent, to obtain those requested items,” Daniel wrote.

“This claim was asserted by Respondent for the first time during the February 22, 2022, hearing. Respondent never communicated any of this in any court filing or in any of the numerous correspondence or e-mails that went back-and-forth between counsel as Petitioner repeatedly attempted to get Respondent to comply with its subpoena. Despite Petitioner granting Respondent additional time beyond the court-imposed 30-day deadline in an effort to avoid further court involvement, Respondent still chose to remain silent about its belief that Petitioner had sent its subpoena to the wrong entity.”

Daniel wrote that the argument was made despite documentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission which stated it was Worldwide Terminals Fernandina LLC, not Worldwide Terminals LLC, that bought Nassau Terminals, and that Ragucci testified in another matter that Worldwide Terminals Fernandina was created for the specific purpose of acquiring Nassau Terminals.

“In light of Respondent’s own admissions, the claim that Petitioner subpoenaed the wrong entity is simply not a good faith argument to justify a further delay in responding to the subpoena request,” Daniel wrote.

The Judge left it up to ASM Capital to schedule a hearing to determine the specific amount for its compensatory fine from Worldwide Terminals Fernandina.

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: facebook.com/wes.wolfe


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