The Real Deal Miami

State says United Airlines CEO moved sand from a public beach to his home

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection sent a warning letter to Oscar Munoz and his wife Catherine
April 08, 2018 09:00AM

Oscar Munoz

You might think Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, would steer clear of controversy, given the air carrier’s notoriety for dragging a passenger off an overbooked flight and, more recently, mishandling pets.

But according to a state agency, he and his wife Catherine Munoz arranged for the removal of sand from a public beach to build protective dunes for their beachfront home in Ponte Vedra, valued at $6.8 million.

A complaint prompted a March 21 inspection by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP.

In a warning letter to Catherine Munoz, the DEP said its inspection showed machinery was used to move sand from a public beach “to create a small frontal dune” at her and her husband’s Ponte Vedra residence.

The letter further stated that the taking sand from a public beach is a violation of state law that could lead to liability for damages and restoration as well as civil penalties.

The March 28 letter directed the Munozes to arrange a meeting with DEP officials in 15 days to discuss the matter.

First Coast News reported that a neighbor of the couple, Bill Hudson, spent about $28,000 for a commercial delivery of sand to build dunes along his beachfront house, a much more expensive approach than scraping sand off a public beach. Hudson said “playing by the rules” costs more.

The DEP told First Coast News that it issued warning letters to a total of four property owners in St. Johns County, alerting them to inspections that revealed so-called sand scraping activity at their properties. [First Coast News] – Mike Seemuth