An outspoken COVID-19 denier from Naples, Florida who recently sued to challenge the county’s mask mandate is facing a lawsuit himself over a former employee’s daily DraftKings account, The Naples Daily News reports.
Alfie Oakes is the owner of Oakes Farms and Seed to Table, a grocery store and eatery in North Naples. Recently, Oakes has been a tireless and controversial campaigner against Collier County’s measures to combat the coronavirus, which he has called a “hoax.”
But former employee Andrew Moste claims that Oakes Farms – and, in particular, its vice-president, Steven Veneziano – unjustly enriched itself via Moste’s DraftKings account, leaving him with nothing more than an enormous tax headache.
Veneziano moonlights as a poker player, most recently finishing fourth for $27,000 at the WSOP Circuit Super High Roller Event at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. He also appears to be pretty savvy when it comes to sports betting.
According to the lawsuit, Moste said he felt pressured by Veneziano into letting him use his account shortly after beginning work at Oakes Farms in 2008. Later, he learned Veneziano had been banned by DraftKings.
Moste was nervous about Veneziano’s use of the account, which was linked to his bank account. And with good reason, as Veneziano was betting large sums. When Moste asked him to stop, he continued, the suit alleges.
Veneziano was winning, but Moste was concerned that little thought was being paid to tax implications.
When activity on Moste’s bank account ceased, he thought his problems were over. But the complaint alleges Veneziano was still playing on Moste’s DraftKings account, although, at this time, he had switched to using the Oakes Farms bank account for deposits and withdrawals.
In fact, most of Veneziano’s winnings came after he had switched bank accounts, the lawsuit says. In all, Veneziano allegedly won $216,000, leaving Moste with a tax liability of $93,000.
Moste says Veneziano kept all the winnings and promised to compensate on taxes, but later refused to do so.
According to the lawsuit, when Moste complained, Veneziano offered him a box of losing lottery scratch-off tickets. Veneziano said Moste could use these to claim false gambling losses to offset the winnings on the account.
When Moste refused, Oakes came up with a plan, says the complaint. Oakes suggested to Moste that he should not declare the winnings to the IRS. Meanwhile, Oakes would write him a check every year for seven years to cover the liability. Again, Moste declined.
The suit names Oakes, Veneziano, and Oakes Farms. It seeks a jury trial and more than $181,000 in damages.
The defendants’ lawyer, Steve Bracci, said in court filings that his clients denies all allegations. Bracci claims Moste was never an employee of Oakes farms, just a “disgruntled former independent contractor” with an axe to grind.
“The plaintiff is choosing to name Oakes Farms and Alfie Oakes to cast them in a false light as a tactic to extract a settlement payout,” Bracci said. “Oakes Farms will not be coerced into settlements based on frivolous complaints made by desperate individuals.
“Plaintiff has also changed his story multiple times to manufacture a false monetary claim against the defendants that is, in fact, meritless,” the defendants claim.
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