Cosentino fails to get Sheriff’s Office to charge Holderness with inappropriate contact on basis of original court order
Although no trial date has been set yet in a felony case pitting two Siesta Key residents against each other, the 12th Judicial Circuit Court has modified the terms of release for the defendant, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
On March 6, Michael Holderness appeared before Circuit Judge Stephen Walker as Holderness’ attorney, Varinia Van Ness of Sarasota, argued for the easing of Holderness’ terms of release, according to a court document.
In the meantime, Mike Cosentino has failed in efforts to get the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to press further charges against Holderness, with Cosentino arguing that Holderness violated the original terms of release, court documents show.
On Jan. 3, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office charged Holderness with one count of Robbery by Sudden Snatching without Firearm or Weapon and one count of Tampering with Evidence. The charges resulted from a Dec. 31, 2018 confrontation between Holderness and Cosentino, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
While Cosentino — with county permission — was trying to clear sand from part of the 373-foot segment of North Beach Road the County Commission vacated in May 2016, Holderness allegedly drove up in a truck, began yelling at Cosentino and told Cosentino to get off Holderness’ property.
Holderness allegedly snatched Cosentino’s iPhone after Cosentino began filming the incident.
When Sheriff’s Office personnel spoke with Holderness — after both men called the department — Cosentino’s video was found in the iPhone’s “Deleted” folder, the report said. “The video showed the events happening as Cosentino described,” the report pointed out.
The incident occurred at 47 Beach Road, the arrest report said. A court document later filed by Judge Walker says that Holderness manages the property at 47 Beach Road. A Sarasota News Leader check of county and state records found that Holderness handles rentals for the owner through Holderness’ business, Beachside Management.
On Feb. 8, Holderness entered a written “Not Guilty” plea in the case without appearing in court. Earlier, he had waived formal arraignment and demanded a jury trial.
A Jan. 3 court order regarding Holderness’ arraignment ordered him to refrain “from any direct or indirect contact” with the victim in the case “as a condition of pretrial release.”
It also ordered Holderness to refrain from having “physical or violent contact with the victim or the victim’s property”; to refrain from being within 500 feet of the victim’s residence; and to refrain from being “within 500 feet of the victim’s vehicle or place of employment.”
Cosentino is a self-employed carpenter, he has said during County Commission meetings.
The conditions for pre-trial release, the court form said, would be “enforceable for the duration of the pretrial release or until modified by the court.”
On March 7, Circuit Judge Walker granted the following modifications to Holderness’ pretrial terms of release:
- Holderness is permitted to be on the property of the Siesta Key Beach Resort, which he owns and which is located at 5311 Ocean Blvd., “regardless of Mr. Cosentino’s presence in the vicinity.”
- Holderness is permitted to be at his management office for Beachside Villas, located at 124 Columbus Blvd., at any time, “regardless of Mr. Cosentino’s presence in the vicinity.”
- Holderness “is permitted to be at 45, 47, 49, 53, 55 and 65 Beach Road, condominiums that he manages,” at any time, but not within 50 feet of the property Cosentino owns at 10 Beach Road, adjacent to Beach Access 2 and kitty-corner from 47 Beach Road.
- Holderness is permitted to attend any meeting of the Siesta Key Association, but he is “not to come within 50 feet of Mr. Cosentino at those meetings.”
Finally, the order says, “There is [to be] no direct or indirect contact with Mr. Cosentino.”
In a motion she filed on Feb. 25, Holderness’ attorney, Van Ness, had pointed out that Holderness works on Siesta Key and owns “numerous businesses” on the island, including the hotel in Siesta Village. Cosentino, she continued, “has made it a point to make it known he is attending all Siesta Key Business meetings dealing with tourism, to prevent [Holderness] from attending.”
Van Ness added, “These actions are negatively impacting [Holderness’] ability to function and go about his daily business on the Key.”
Allegations of violating the court order on contact
About three weeks after Holderness’ arrest and subsequent release on $15,000 bail, a deputy took a statement from Cosentino about Holderness allegedly violating the Jan. 3 court order regarding contact with Cosentino.
Just before 8 a.m. on Jan. 22, the report said, Cosentino arrived at the Circle K, located at 5041 Ocean Blvd. in Siesta Village, and parked his pickup truck near the southern end of the parking lot. “The pickup truck does not have any markings on it other than an ‘Open Beach Road’ bumper sticker and a ‘black dog’ in the truck,” the report continued.
Cosentino told the deputy that when he entered the store, he was wearing a gray hoodie with the hood up, covering his head.
Only a couple of minutes later, Cosentino added, Holderness also arrived at the Circle K and parked his golf cart near the front door, about four or five spaces north of Cosentino’s truck. Holderness then entered the store, selected an item and moved into the line at the counter, the report continued.
“Michael Cosentino does not wait in line, puts $2.00 on the counter to pay for his items, and walks out of the store,” the report said, attributing the information to Cosentino. “Michael Cosentino does this most mornings,” the report continued. “At some point Michael Cosentino notices Michael Holderness and waits for him to leave the store. Michael Cosentino waits near his truck and photographs Michael Holderness as he leaves the store. Michael Holderness exits the store and leaves the area. There were no words exchanged between either parties and the incident appeared to be incidental contact,” the deputy wrote.
The incident was captured on the store’s video surveillance, the report added, so a deputy viewed the video, the report noted, and another officer watched it, as well.
“Michael Cosentino felt as if Michael Holderness followed him into the store and was concerned for his safety due to past issues,” the report said. “Michael Cosentino wished to press charges and completed a written statement,” the report added.
However, the deputy concluded that the contact “did not appear [to be] intentional” and “determined that no crime occurred.”
The deputy did inform Sgt. Paul Cernansky, leader of the Siesta substation, about the incident, the report noted. “The purpose of this report is to document the incident pending further issues or disturbances,” the report concluded.
In correspondence Cosentino filed with the court on March 6, he included copies of handwritten notes he had left for State Attorney Ed Brodsky of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, as well as Assistant State Attorney Kaylin M. Humerickhouse. Each note was on the first page of a copy of a typed letter from Cosentino to Col. Kurt Hoffman, chief deputy and general counsel of the Sheriff’s Office. The letter to Hoffman was dated Feb. 13.
“Regrettably, neither of the two recent messages I’ve left you regarding my safety have been returned,” Cosentino began the typed letter. “I’m sure you are very busy and I understand. But my safety, as well as my constitutionally protected rights, are in my opinion being overlooked by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department.”
Cosentino then referenced the Dec. 31, 2018 incident on Beach Road and the Jan. 22 incident at Circle K.
Cosentino wrote that, “based on [his] limited understanding,” Holderness indeed had violated the court’s “no contact” order. Cosentino criticized the Sheriff’s Office for not taking appropriate action as a result of that.
Cosentino proceeded to describe another incident that allegedly occurred on Jan. 23. Cosentino wrote that Holderness approached him that day from the south, in a golf cart as Cosentino was traveling south through Siesta Village. When Cosentino turned immediately into the Blasé Café parking lot, he wrote, Holderness followed him, stopped in front of the restaurant and took Cosentino’s photo.
In the correspondence filed with the court on March 6, Cosentino included copies of sections of the Florida Constitution. He circled the title of Section 16, Rights of accused and of victims, and underlined parts of that chapter.
In concluding his letter to Hoffman, Cosentino wrote, “I appreciate your service to the community and thank you in advance for what I hope will be your prompt consideration of my concerns.”
The News Leader contacted the Sheriff’s Office this week to ask whether Hoffman wanted to provide any comment regarding the communication from Cosentino. No comment was offered.