Commission Candidate Is A $282k Deadbeat






In his current campaign for Plantation City Commission, Francis “Rico” Petrocelli pledges to “make responsible decisions when it comes to the people’s money.”

But when it comes to his own finances, Petrocelli has problems – a string of bankruptcies which left him owing $281,682.76, including an unpaid bill of $4,558.96 to the city of Plantation for COBRA health insurance coverage.

His poor finances have been known for years, while he wandered through a succession of junior-level jobs.



Rico-Petrocelli-Headshot-thumbFrancis “Rico” Petrocelli

Although he has been unsuccessful in business, he has been a moderate success in politics mainly due to the willingness of Republicans (and voters, in one instance) to overlook his personal life.

Petrocelli was a Plantation commissioner 2005-2009, when he was defeated for re-election.

Shortly after his loss, Petrocelli was appointed in 2009 to the Broward County Housing Authority governing board by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, a post he continues to hold.

From late 2012 to early 2013, he served a short term as Broward Republican Chair. He was also the party’s executive director for a few months.

Through it all, Petrocelli has been dogged by debt. He spends more than he makes.

The latest controversy surfaced in November when Petrocelli asked for various public records from the city.

It is common practice in Plantation City Clerk Susan Slattery’s office to accept a deposit before handling a public records request. The balance of the fees are due upon delivery of the material.

In the letter dated Nov. 12 to Slattery, City Attorney Donald Lunny Jr. said her usual policy on records shouldn’t apply to Petrocelli because of his long-standing debt.

Lunny ordered that “all authorized fees and costs for responding to any public records request of Mr. Petrocelli must be paid in full before any work is commenced.” Lunny used italics to emphasize his point.

The attorney went on to explain that Petrocelli owed the city $4,558.96 plus interest which “remains due and payable and collectable, and has been turned over to the City’s collection agency…”

After his 2009 re-election defeat, “Mr. Petrocelli signed a document indicating that he would pay the health insurance premiums associated with COBRA coverage period. However, Mr. Petrocelli did not do so, and has refused to honor this contractual commitment to Planation, despite he and his dependents incurring very significant medical bills during the COBRA period which were presented to the City insurance program to pay, and which were processed and paid…,” Lunny wrote.

Lunny and federal court files indicate that Petrocelli has filed bankruptcy three times.

In his latest bankruptcy he reported $281,682.76 in debt, according to court files.

Among his creditors are $202,647 to the Regions Bank, $34,846 to the Bank of America, $2,824 to Westside Regional Medical Center and thousands more to various credit card and financial firms.

In an e-mail to, Petrocelli wrote:

 “Nobody’s perfect, Buddy.  Like many people in Plantation, across Broward, and across America, my family was hit hard during the Great Recession.  I was laid off at Baer’s Furniture after 10 years, lost the 2009 Election, and my wife got sick, and had surgery, and she hasn’t been able to return to work since. These 3 combined income sources amounted to a loss of approximately $90,000 per year.  I filed bankruptcy as a result of loss of income and outstanding bills.  My earlier bankruptcy was over 20+ years ago.  During my lifetime, I have filed twice (2) for bankruptcy.

“Going through these hard times has made me more empathetic to others’ financial woes.  Just as so many have been through it, so have I.  I can identify.

“Just as I did when I served on the council from 2005-2009, I will make responsible decisions when it comes to the people’s money….”

Petrocelli is one of five candidates running for an open Group 2 seat on the commission. The other candidates are Jeff Holness, Claudette Hammond, Louis Reinstein and Peter Tingom.

The election is March 10.


18 Responses to “Commission Candidate Is A $282k Deadbeat”

  1. Talks like a politician says:

    Buddy, you have just described the profile of many elected officials in Broward County. Unfortunately, the voters do not care about the qualifications of those on the ballot. I don’t know if many just close their eyes and point, if the vote for a name that sounds like their own ethnicity, vote for a candidate of their own gender, vote for a name they recognize, vote for someone who dresses well or has “good” hair, or vote for the smoothest talker.
    Mr. Petrocelli has no worries. The voters don’t have a high standard for candidates.

  2. John Henry says:

    These career politicians should take some basic level economics classes at BCC.

    Maybe just maybe they’ll start to comprehend the concept of having a budget and living within one’s means.

  3. SuperDuper says:

    Everything about this man seems suspect, starting with the nickname.

  4. just beachy says:

    PETER TINGOM IS THE VERY BEST CHOICE HERE! Professional and politically savvy, Pete will serve the people with the highest integrity and respect using remarkable administrative and personal skills acquired over his lifetime!
    He deserves your “good look ” and I for one, knowing how thorough you are my Buddy, look forward to your report on him! VOTE Peter Tingom, Vote for the Finest!

  5. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    I go to a Board certified Doctor for medical advice. And lots of other folks in my life (electrician, chiro, accountant) are all certified.

    So then, should we turn to Rico for expertise on being a financial dirtbag?

    If he can’t be trusted with his own money, why should we trust him with ours?

  6. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    “Just as I did when I served on the council from 2005-2009, I will make responsible decisions when it comes to the people’s money”

    Why should we believe him? If he’s so responsible, how come he’s gone BK. Not once, not twice, but thrice?

  7. buddy says:


    Chaz Stevens reminds me that other city commissioners have had problems with paying bills.

    Commissioner Lebarta “Chickie” Brandimarte of Dania Beach loaded up on credit card bills and filed bankruptcy in 2009.

    Stevens’ story on that one is linked here.

  8. RINO? says:

    Why is everyone picking on Rico. He is just like Chip LaMarca, who has also fallen behind on his bills. At least Rico was smart enough to file bankruptcy. Won’t Lamarca will likely be foreclosed on soon? Why should these fine republicans be expected to pay their debts? Aren’t they the definition of fiscal conservative?

  9. Sam Fields says:

    A man whose personal finances are in such disarray is seeking a job where he will being making discretionary decisions involving millions based on his personal choice.

    You gotta wonder.

  10. Right on says:

    Lucky for Chip he had his pal Moskowitz as the attorney for the bank. A foreclosure case only moves as fast as the bank attorney wants it to go. It is not as if the one being foreclosed on is going to rush the case to fruition.

  11. Many Have! says:

    If I’m correct 2 current commissioners in Sunrise have filed bankruptcy protection in the past. We are all not perfect many circumstances are out of our control for lost wages to medical bills from sickness I would not judge a persons credibility or worthiness because they did what thousands do every month in Broward. Do we criticize the President for signing legislation or campaigning against cigarettes when he was a smoker and quit so he says or signs legislation that gives money to law enforcement to stop cocaine trafficking when he has admitted to using the drug? Would we call Clinton a dirt bag for previously smoking a joint when law enforcement personnel have died in the line of duty trying to stop the inflow of the drug. We live in a imperfect world and many people are flawed but that does not mean they can not serve the public in a constructive manner.

  12. @many have says:

    You are right. Many people have fallen on hard times over the last several years. Many have lost income due to downsizing, family illness and other tragic occurrences. However, none of these apply to lamarca. He got a $95,000 raise, bought a jaguar and stopped paying his mortgage. His behavior is a slap in the face to people who pay their bills as well as to people who fell on hard times and actually couldn’t pay their bills.
    No wonder he is the one who hired Rico to be the executive director of BREC. Birds of a feather flock together.

  13. Nancy says:

    everyone falls on hard times and he does not own a jaguar! He has the cheap version of the 300. He did make wise decisions and unfortunately people in this world lose their job and sometimes lose everything! How about some compassion. Most of the people on the board now are filthy rich and don’t have a care in the world and boy would I love to see some of their perfect worlds crashing down on them. If you haven’t noticed just about everyone in Plantation is struggling. Its not the beautiful green city anymore. Foreclosures and abandoned homes are all over and even in Plantation Acres! Facts are he was a good councilman who actually cared about the people not like the selfish people who are worried about getting more money out of the hardworking people of Plantation. These people do not represent the people of Plantation. They know nothing of the struggles that the residents face and that is why im voting them all out!! and Buddy how about having some class. Nobody likes dirty politics and especially from a nobody like you. Your opinions only matter to the 12 hateful people that left comments on your unsuccessful blog! Have a great day and get ready for the change that is coming!!

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    I am always amazed how someone (aka Nancy), who has zero access to your dashboard and analytics, can determine if the Beat is a success or not.

    I can say this. When you post a link to MAOS, I get crazy traffic.


    Let’s put it this way: (1) I have had numerous proposals that would pay me to merge my site into others. (2) As a columnist for the major newspaper in this community for years I am very used to criticism and hate mail. Aka Nancy is a rank amateur. (3) Petrocelli filed for bankruptcy three times and owes the very city he wants to help run. That’s a story.

  15. Sorry Buddy says:

    When the title of your post is, “Commission Candidate Is A $282k Deadbeat” it sounds like a personal attack not reporting the news. It is not the first time you have written about Rico filing bankruptcy?

  16. Nancy says:

    Yea check out who Buddy is buddies with and you will see why he attacks Rico at every election. Buddy you seem very grimey with all these vicious personal attacks.

  17. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Now wait a minute! I disagree with Attorney Sam Fields but would never question is legal education, knowledge or expertise! I may disagree with Mr. Nevins on this or that, but it is an established fact he has been a professional, well regarded reporter for decades! And this “check out who Buddy is buddies with…:” is frankly, pointless. Reporters have to “hang out” with people to gather news. Who they “hang out with” is a news judgement, not a moral, ethical, or social judgement! Yes, it is a scandal people in politics are financially irresponsible or worse, and reporters should report it. Do you want to be like the Miami Herald that “hides” facts like the most recent announced candidate for a Miami Beach Commission seat has either run three businesses into the ground or bankruptcy? Why can’t I be specific? Because when each business went “bust” his wife, a sitting Miami Beach City Commissioner or her “minions” made sure the Miami Herald either did not get the details each time or buried the story. At least Mr. Nevins is getting us information unlike the useless Miami Herald coverage of Miami Beach.


    Just to make it perfectly clear, I don’t hang out with any Plantation office holder or politician.

  18. Nancy says:

    Yea Okay Buddy whatever you say……