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

Oscar Munoz
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.

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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