Lawyer says Florida Bar dismissed ethics complaint linked to Naples property sale

Sam Saad's vote as a member of the Naples City Council in favor of a 7-Eleven development triggered two ethics complaints against him

Naples City Councilman Sam Saad (Credit: Tallahassee Democrat)
Naples City Councilman Sam Saad (Credit: Tallahassee Democrat)

Real estate attorney Sam Saad, a member of the Naples City Council, said the Florida Bar dismissed an allegation that he acted unethically by voting in favor of a development that involved one of his clients.

In May 2016, Saad voted in favor of a proposal to build a gas station and convenience store in River Park, a Naples neighborhood with a mostly African-American population.

Though many residents of River Park opposed the development, the Naples City Council approved it in a 4-3 vote.

Vincent Keyes, president of the NAACP chapter in Collier County, filed an ethics complaint against Saad with the Florida Bar.

Keyes alleged that Saad violated a Florida Bar rule that prohibits lawyers from acting in their own self-interest as public officials.

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The Naples Daily News has reported on Saad’s business relationships with New York-based Axonic Capital Group, which sold the River Park property to convenience-store chain 7-Eleven.

The Daily News reported that Saad did legal work for Axonic before and after the sale and had entered real estate development partnerships with Axonic manager Matt Pikus, who earned a $24,000 commission on the River Park property sale to 7-Eleven.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Bar told the newspaper on Saturday she was unable to confirm that the Bar dismissed the ethics complaint against Saad because details of the case weren’t immediately available.

A nine-member state ethics panel earlier dismissed a separate ethics complaint against Saad after determining he was unaware before his vote on the River Park property that the sale would generate a $24,000 commission for Pikus.

Naples City Councilwoman Linda Penniman filed the ethics complaint against Saad in March of last year. [Naples Daily News] – Mike Seemuth